The All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting California River Blog

Read up on everything related to whitewater rafting on California rivers with All-Outdoors

Gizmodo Takes on Cherry Creek

July 17th, 2014 Jamie Low
Gizmodo: Rafting America's Most Difficult River

AOrafting on the Gizmodo homepage

Last weekend Gizmodo’s IndefintelyWild joined us on one of our Cherry Creek trips so they could see for themselves that even with the drought this year, California is a world-class destination for whitewater rafting.

Adventure travel writer Wes Siler and videographer Chris Brinlee Jr. documented their journey and produced a great piece that really does justice to what a Cherry Creek experience is all about.  If you’re considering making the leap to the Creek, this article (complete with video) is a must read.

Bonus: Enter To Win a Boatload!

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.)

Details and entry form can be found here:

Enter to Win a Whitewater Rafting Trip on Any River All-Outdoors Runs This Season


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

American River Music Festival September 2014: Raft and Rock Out!

July 16th, 2014 Malina

american-music-festival-banner-PFD (1)

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.

Music Galore

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.

You’re Hooked, So Book!

AO Rafting will be your hosts on the festival river trip, but all ticket sales are run through the festival website.  Learn more about the musical line-up, the camping options, and book your tickets before they sell out!

Family Fun: South Fork American Float Trips

July 8th, 2014 Malina

family-banner2Little 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!

(Above: South Fork American Float Trips are a delightful way to spend a day on the water as a family)

Top Five things to check out after a South Fork Rafting Trip

July 7th, 2014 Malina

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.

Eden Vale Resort

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.

Read more…

South Fork American Rafting Video

July 7th, 2014 Malina

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!


Slideshow: Middle Fork of the American River Two Day Rafting Trips

June 9th, 2014 Malina

  • Entering The Middle Fork of the American River CanyonPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Taking the boats to put-inPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • Forward Paddle!Photo: Mark Reiner
  • scouting tunnel chute rapidPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • guides and crews discuss the planPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • No way! This is so cool!Photo: Mark Reiner
  • surrounded by whitewaterPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • The Final DropPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • floating into the tunnelPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • Class IV Rapid: Thread The NeedlePhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Ready for lunch?Photo: Mark Reiner
  • pulling over for lunch and side hikePhoto: Luis Escobar
  • exploring slot canyons & waterfallsPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • hanging out with friendsPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • Waterfall in Dardanelle CanyonPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Reconnecting with friendsPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • back on the waterPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • Enjoying a calm stretchPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • unloading boats at campPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • playing riverside horseshoes Photo: Luis Escobar
  • fishing before dinnerPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • catching a momentPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Dinner's on the grillPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Camp at NightPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • Waking Up With CoffeePhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Morning in campPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • floating downstreamPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Paddling Inflatable KayaksPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Day Two Side Hike: Canyon CreekPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Waterfalls in Canyon CreekPhoto: Mark Reiner
  • time for familyPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Class IV Rapid: CleavagePhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Class IV Rapid: Parallel ParkingPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Class IV Rapid: CatapultPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Take Out at trip's endPhoto: Luis Escobar
  • Wishing it wasn't overPhoto: Luis Escobar

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 . . .

To learn more about the photographers featured here visit Luis Escobar online at

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:

2014 California Summer Rafting Season Update: Here’s Where We’re Rafting All Summer Long! [MAP]

June 9th, 2014 Jamie Low

California Summer Rafting Update [MAP]

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.

Cherry Creek:

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!)

Middle Fork American River Rafting Video

June 5th, 2014 Malina

Waffling between rivers?  Trying to decide on a one day or overnight trip?  Take a tour with us, why don’t you, and journey into the Middle Fork American River canyon…….

Tuolumne and Cherry Creek 2014 Rafting Season Update

May 13th, 2014 Malina

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!

Flat Rock Rapid, Cherry Creek

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!

Also: if you haven’t seen them yet, be sure to check out our new videos from videographer and AO guide Nate M. and Char: Tuolumne River: Two Days & Cherry Creek Rafting with AO

Return to The Tuolumne River Canyon: Images of Transformation

May 13th, 2014 Jamie Low

Last summer the Tuolumne River canyon was the epicenter of California’s third largest wildfire in recorded history, abruptly cutting short our rafting season and leaving a moonscape of destruction behind. In December we were able to drive into the canyon to see for ourselves the extent of the damage, but until recently we had not been able to access the river canyon by raft.

Fast forward through months of worry to late March, when we were finally given the chance to bring the boats down into the canyon.  Together with the US Forest Service, various water management agencies and representatives from each of the outfitters, we ventured to see it for ourselves. We were hopeful, but concerned. Nobody really knew what to expect.

And we certainly didn’t expect this: while the fire damage was remarkable, so were the emerging signs of life.  The scorched earth and incinerated trees were in stark contrast to the brilliant colors of spring, providing us with what felt like the most beautiful day we’ve ever seen on the Tuolumne.

We’ve assembled this slideshow using photos from both of these trips to help showcase the Tuolumne canyon’s road to recovery:

  • March 2014: Deep green colors cover the lower canyonPhoto: Scott Armstrong
  • December 2013: A First LookHard hats were required during our first visit into the canyon. Photo: Scott Armstrong
  • Dec 2013: Driving through devastated areas of the Canyon Photo: Scott Armstrong
  • December 2013: Jawbone RidgePhoto: Scott Armstrong
  • March 2014: Jawbone Ridge comes back to lifePhoto: Jamie Low
  • Looking down into the Tuolumne River canyon Photo: Jamie Low
  • December 2013: Driving Toward Put-InPhoto: Scott Armstrong
  • December 2013: Looking Upstream at Ram's Head RapidPhoto: Scott Armstrong
  • A word of warning from the National Forest ServicePhoto: Jamie Low
  • March 2014: Rigging the boats at Meral's Pool put-inPhoto: Jamie Low
  • Signs of life Photo: Jamie Low
  • a stark contrast in affected sides of the canyonPhoto: Jamie Low
  • Cal Fire crew prepares for hazard removalPhoto: Jamie Low
  • Inspecting downed tree to be removed from Ram's Head rapidPhoto: Jamie Low
  • Scott Armstrong rows past the downed tree in Ram's HeadPhoto: Jamie Low
  • Paddling towards Clavey CanyonPhoto: Jamie Low
  • California poppy flowers were in full bloomPhoto: Jamie Low
  • All-Outdoors' owner Scott Armstrong taking photosPhoto: Jamie Low
  • an oar covered by debris from the firePhoto: Jamie Low
  • Below Clavey Falls: The river is colored dark brown from debrisPhoto: Jamie Low
  • The shade trees at Indian Campground were sparedPhoto: Jamie Low
  • Indian Campground from downstreamPhoto: Scott Armstrong
  • A Bobcat walks past scorched tree trunks Photo: Jamie Low
  • A downed tree comes to rest along the riverbankPhoto: Jamie Low
  • Floating past grapevinePhoto: Jamie Low

The Tuolumne River and Cherry Creek seasons have already begun, and despite California’s drought conditions, we will thankfully be exploring these river canyons all summer long.  If you haven’t seen “The Mighty T” in awhile, we strongly recommend the return trip.

If you’re wondering what all of this means for your prospects of taking a trip here, know that the view from the canyon rim will give you the impression that nothing survived this fire.  It’s an impressive sight, and it will take many years for the canyon to heal.  But once at river level, the scenery reveals a rich and robust ecosystem, almost making you forget about the fire ravaged landscape above.  It’s a stunning contrast that really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated.


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, where he now helps his clients “optimize” their search marketing communications strategies. Connect with Jamie on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn