The 2023 California Whitewater Rafting Season UpdatePosted April 12, 2023 by Lenka Bostian
All-Outdoors operates professionally guided whitewater rafting trips on 10 California rivers. River trip options vary in a range of ways, including the level of difficulty, length of trip, minimum age requirements, driving distance, seasonality, and available itineraries. Consider what kind of experience you want for yourself and for your group before selecting a river and date.
Great Flows All Season Long!
We offer rafting trips in California from April until the end of October every year, and each river has its own season that ranges in duration depending on upstream reservoirs or the rate of snowmelt. 2023 is a great year for rafting: a deep Sierra snowpack and full reservoirs set us up for a long, full season of whitewater rafting fun that will go all the way through October. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly trip with the kids or a thrilling ride for your group of experienced rafters, you will have great options to choose from this season!
Late Summer and Fall Rafting in 2023 (September – October)
Summer rafting conditions continue even after Labor Day in this historic whitewater rafting season. Dam-controlled rivers with upstream reservoirs benefit from healthy flows released on a consistent, regular schedule:
- South Fork of the American (Class 3+ Beginner-Intermediate)
Now through September 30: FOUR days a week (Thu-Sun)
October 1 – October 30: FOUR days a week (Fri-Mon)
- Middle Fork of the American (Class 3-4 Intermediate)
Now through September 30: DAILY
- Goodwin Canyon (Class 4+ Intermediate-Advanced)
Double Runs scheduled on the following three weekends:
Sat-Sun October 14-15,
Sat-Sun October 21-22,
Sat-Sun October 28-29
If you want to dig into greater detail about the flows for each river, check our Real-Time Flow Reports for California Rivers.
Need any help planning your trip? Contact us by phone, email, Live Chat.
2023 California Rafting Season – River by River
The rafting season on this fan-favorite river opened in April and will run through October. After Labor Day, excellent rafting flows are guaranteed on four days of the week: Thursday – Sunday in September; and Friday – Monday in October. Take advantage of this quieter time on the river and join us for some classic Class 3 rafting or the Class 1-2 Tom Sawyer Float Trips on the easy section of the South Fork.
In 2023 the river was running too high for rafting all spring long. When there is too much water in the river, it starts to “wash out” and some rapids need to be portaged – for that reason we do not recommend trips during higher flows. The Middle Fork season opened in early July with daily departures that were originally planned until Labor Day, but have now been extended to last through the end of September.
The mighty Merced was a hoot this year with extra big roller coaster waves and lots of forward paddling. The rafting season was strong and long on this popular river (much like the waterfall season in the nearby Yosemite Valley), lasting through the end of July.
The Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River was a great rafting choice all summer long! The record-breaking snowpack in the High Sierra provided some magnificent flows in the spring and the first part of July. By late July the river returned to normal levels and the Tuolumne continued to offer very exciting Class 4+ rafting all the way through Labor Day, September 4.
The North Stan made a spectacular comeback in 2023 after taking a hiatus during the last few years. This season there was plenty of low-elevation snowpack to sustain a long fun-filled season lasting until early July.
This most difficult of the three forks of the American River had a healthy season this year. By late June the river flows dropped too low and the season here is done until 2024.
The southern Sierra received much snow this winter and as a result, the rafting season on the Kaweah River just outside of Sequoia National Park was long and extra thrilling! Typically we are done rafting by the end of June, but this year great rafting flows lasted through July.
In above-average snowpack years, this hidden Class 4+ stretch of the lower Stanislaus River provides raftable flows all season long. We have been busy rafting elsewhere in California for much of the season, so the best (and only) time to enjoy this rare rafting opportunity will be during our Goodwin Canyon Double Runs in October.
This northernmost river we run had an extended rafting season thanks to a surplus of snow. By late June the river flows dropped too low for Class V rafting and our season here is over.
The 2023 Cherry Creek rafting season was shorter than typical due to the large amount of snow in the Sierra. In lower to normal snowpack years, the season usually starts in June or early July, but in 2023 the ideal rafting flows started late – in early August. The upstream reservoirs were releasing flows for rafting until September 4 which was the last day of the Cherry Creek season.