Good news for spring rafters! The strong snowpack from winter 2009, combined with this week’s warming trend, mean water levels are rising on springtime rafting trips. This might mean free-flowing rivers like the Merced will have slightly shorter seasons, but conditions are wonderful right now. It’s really an even trade in the end–especially if you’re looking for high water, big hydraulics, and powerful currents. Dam-controlled rivers have plenty of water for long, solid seasons.
Be sure to catch the North Fork of the Stanislaus while flows are up there. (After the melt is over, the North Folk will be too low for rafting trips.) Don’t forget the South Fork of the American either–the hills are still green, wildflowers are still out, and higher flows make the South Fork extra fun. Faster spring water also makes whole river trips–rafting all the way from Chili Bar to Salmon Falls–a fantastic day. If you usually raft the South Fork in the summer months, this time of year will give you a whole new perspective!