Are you looking for something fun to do this September? Look no further than our fair valley and spend the weekend at the American River Music Festival. The fun begins on Friday, September 12th with musical performances by groups like Laura Love, Baskery, and the Rebecca Loebe Trio.
Headlining this year, the big mack daddy himself, Greg Brown!
On Saturday, you’re going to begin your day with an awesome river trip on the South Fork of the American with us, your hosts, AO Rafting. Can’t say there will be much music on the boats unless you are a good singer, but you will actually float past the main stage at Henningson Lotus park on your way to take-out so that’s pretty cool; you’ll certainly be able to hear the music as you meander past. After your river trip is over you can take one of many free shuttles around the valley to catch your favorite act. Sunday it’s more of the same!
All-Inclusive Tickets for 3 days of Fun
Over 30 bands, free shuttles, camping, and rafting trip–and all for just $199, folks. Bring the kids! Youth tickets are $149. Ticket sales are online through the Festival website.
We partnered up to giveaway a fantastic prize to help us promote the great rafting season we are having this year: If you win, you get to bring a boatload of your friends on any river we run this season!
That includes the South and Middle Forks of the American River, the Tuolumne and even Cherry Creek (for those who are ready for it.)
Be sure to enter the contest (it’s easy) and share it with your friends to increase your chances. (If your friend wins, they just might bring you along.)
Jamie Low started guiding for All-Outdoors in 1990, falling in love with whitewater boating, rivers (and a local girl) in the Sierra Foothills of California; he now works as a Search Engine Marketing Consultant specializing in helping publishers and adventure-based travel clients find and connect with their larger audiences. Connect with Jamie on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn
Eight Years and Counting! Celebrating Music and Rivers
It’s back! The annual American River Music Festival is back for another awesome weekend of music, camping, and a festival river trip! We’re excited to be partnering with the festival again this year, and will be running a special Upper “Chili Bar” trip on the South Fork of the American River for festival goers.
Now That’s a What I Call a Good Deal
Get this people. A ticket is $199 and gets you: over 30 musical performances, camping, shuttles all around the valley to different venues, and a river trip with AO Rafting! And it’s for THREE DAYS. Ok, only one day of rafting, but three days of festival goodness. For $199. Only $149 for kids.
There are 9 venues at this year’s festival, including the campgrounds, so you will literally be surrounded by music all weekend long, whether you’re grabbing coffee at the Bakery, Pizza at Marco’s, or seeing the headliners on the main stage at Henningson Lotus Park.
Little kids and water–the perfect summer combo right? But there are minimum ages for whitewater rafting trips. What’s a tiny rafter to do? If you’re just knee-high to a grasshopper and kindergarten is your reality, not a distant memory, you’re not certainly headed to the Middle Fork, and even the South Fork’s class III rapids are out of reach.
Enter the Tom Sawyer Float Trip to save the summer! Running through the Coloma-Lotus Valley, this gentle introduction to rafting was developed for families with young kids–our minimum age guideline is 5 years old. This part of the South Fork is in between the Class III whitewater runs of the upper “Chili Bar” and the lower “Gorge” sections of the river. As it meanders through the valley, the river has only gentle Class II rapids. Splashy riffles give the wee ones a taste of excitement, and there are long stretches of lazy water . . . time for water fights, blackberry picking, joke-telling and paddling inflatable kayaks for the more adventurous among you. Lunch is served at our River Center under tall shady oaks, and all the cooking and clean-up is taken care of by our river guides–no work for mom and dad!
Yes, the South Fork American is a great day trip from the Bay Area and Sacramento, but what if you have extra time and want to fill up the whole weekend? Should you go to Napa instead? Or head to the coast? Not so fast, my pretties. I’m not saying I’d turn either one down– I totally would not, I am aware of the pastries at Bouchon Bakery and the Oysters at Hog Island–but what I am saying is that you can make quite a lovely weekend here in our sleepy Coloma-Lotus Valley. You don’t even have to go to Placerville or Apple Hill. You can stay right here and have a grand ol’ time the day after your river trip.
1) Sleep Somewhere Awesome.
First, wake up at Eden Vale Inn. Which is not actually in the Valley, but . . . it’s like 10 minutes from our office and that’s pretty close. Eden Vale is one of those places that you see the brochure and you think “that looks great. Too great. They must be stock photos so I’m heading to the Best Western where I know exactly what I’m gonna get.” But friends, I have been to Eden Vale and I wanted to stay forever. Like I wanted to move in. It’s as beautiful as you want it to be. If you are a purist and are offended I suggested you leave our fair valley please relax and visit the swanky Bella Vista B and B instead.
Take a virtual tour of the Fair Lady South Fork with us, your gallant hosts, AO Rafting! Harken to the thrill of class III rapids, take thee a gander at the riverbank where nodding blackberries doth ripen in the summer sun. Lo, there is the Lollipop Tree! But enough of these musings, friends, just watch the South Fork American rafting video!
The Middle Fork of the American is one of our favorite rivers. It’s close to our home base in Lotus, but once you get in the canyon you feel like you’re a million miles away. The steep canyon walls are home to mature native trees, wildlife a plenty, and create a beautiful backdrop for wild rapids and placid stretches of calm water that invite day dreams and flights of fancy. Our slideshow catches a whiff of the magic . . .
Adam Beasley is a singer-songwriter based in El Dorado county. “Summer Song,” featured here, was recorded by an older incarnation of Adam’s band called North of Fifty. You can find him and his current band Uncommon Ground online (and get dates for live shows) at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uncommon-Ground/52656469470
Here’s a more detailed description of each California river we’re rafting this summer:
South Fork American:
Family-friendly and fabulous, the South Fork is your go-to river for groups with first-timers and Nervous Nellies, but it’s certainly no float trip. Class III rapids abound and even experienced rafters will have a hoot on this, the most popular river in the state. Trips are running now and into the fall!
Middle Fork American:
Tunnel Chute rapid has to be one of the coolest rapids in California–it’s a heart-pounding ride down a chute literally carved out of solid rock that ends in a placid float through a small hill. What??? Yes, it’s true, and you gotta see it to believe it. Plus there’s another 17 miles of wilderness canyon with class III-IV rapids and calm stretches for day-dreaming and relaxing. Middle Fork river trips will run May-September.
Man, the Tuolumne is a keeper. It’s a beautiful and wild canyon with a heart of gold that refused to be put out by the 2013 Rim Fire. See the recovery process up-close and personal on a Tuolumne river trip this year–we’re already running trips and will be out there until September 1st, 2014.
Class V Cherry Creek is the most challenging commercial river trip in the United States. And the drought is actually doing it a huge favor–because there isn’t a big spring snowmelt, which has to subside before the river is low enough to run in typical seasons–Cherry Creek started much earlier this year and our season won’t end until September 1st.
*BONUS: Goodwin Canyon will be running in October!
The closest whitewater rafting trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, the Goodwin Canyon section of the Stanislaus River will be running for two weeks in October for a special release to coincide with the Salmon run. Exact dates have note yet been announced for the releases, but we expect to find out sometime in July. (It isn’t expected to run this summer, and space is limited on these exclusive dates, so if you’ve been meaning to check this river off of your bucket list, be sure to reserve your spot in advance!)
In 2014 we have a pretty amazing season lined up on both sections of the T. Which, for those of you in the know, should actually come as a surprise because we were hit with two disasters recently–the Rim Fire, which ended our 2013 Tuolumne and Cherry Creek seasons early, and the continuing California drought.
Thankfully the 2013 Rim Fire didn’t force the canyon’s complete closure, and we’re one of just a handful of outfitters with permits on this protected Wild and Scenic Canyon. Although you can see fire damage on the drive into the canyon as well as from the riverbank, our rafting trips are really largely unaffected by the fire. We’ve been quite impressed with how rapidly the canyon is regaining its beauty and vibrancy–and you will be too!
Taken this past weekend on a guide training trip down Cherry Creek. Photo: Danny Walker
The other thing that you would be forgiven for thinking would be The Ruiner for this year’s Tuolumne and Cherry Creek seasons is the drought! But no! There’s enough water stored upstream that we have totally normal flows on the Main Tuolumne all season long. And for Cherry Creek, the drought actually means the season opened in May this year. Usually because of the spring snow melt we have to wait for Cherry Creek to be low enough to run, which typically takes until June or even July. There’s nothing we’re celebrating about the drought, but it is giving us a much longer than usual season on Cherry Creek and hey, we’ll take it!