The 2024 California Whitewater Rafting Season Update

Posted April 8, 2024 by Lenka Bostian
Last updated on October 2, 2023

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 on All Rivers in California!

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. 2024 is going to be a great year for rafting: a healthy Sierra snowpack and full reservoirs will provide us with a long, full season of whitewater rafting fun 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!

California Rafting Season Update

When Should You Go Rafting in 2024?

Go Rafting This Spring (April – mid-June)

Rafters will have many choices and can expect lots of whitewater action with a backdrop of lush spring scenery. Some rivers will only be available during the spring snowmelt months, including the North Fork of the Stanislaus, North Fork of the American, Merced & Kaweah Rivers. Reserve your space soon so you don’t miss out on these spring hits! If you are looking for an unusual springtime Class V experience, join us on our annual trip to the California Salmon River in Northern California on the weekend of April 27 – 28! Additionally, trips will also be available on the South Fork of the American River and the Tuolumne River from April, and on the Middle Fork of the American River starting in late May.

Go Rafting This Summer and Fall (Late June – October)

Summer and fall rafting in 2024 will be excellent! Upstream reservoirs will be releasing healthy flows for rafting on a consistent, regular schedule all summer and into fall. Summertime favorites include the South Fork of the American, Middle Fork of the American, and the Tuolumne River. Rafting season on Cherry Creek (Upper Tuolumne) will begin once the river flows get to normal levels in early July. Additionally, every October there is a special scheduled release on the Class IV+ Goodwin Canyon section of the Lower Stanislaus River near Knights Ferry.

2024 California Rafting Season – River by River

South Fork American

The rafting season on this fan-favorite river opens in April and will run through October. Excellent flows for rafting are guaranteed six days a week (no Wednesdays) through Labor Day, September 2, and four days a week later in September (Thursday-Sunday) and October (Friday-Monday). The best time for the Class I-II Tom Sawyer Float Trips on the easy section of the South Fork will be from late June through September.

Middle Fork American

Rafting on the Middle Fork is expected to begin on Memorial Day weekend with scheduled normal flows starting on Saturday, May 25. Rafters will benefit from reliable releases six days a week (no Mondays) through Labor Day, September 2. After that, river trips will be available every day except Monday and Thursday through the end of September. This year’s long season provides a great opportunity for our wonderful overnight river trips through Middle Fork’s wilderness canyon.

Merced River

With plenty of snow stored in Yosemite National Park’s high country, the mighty Merced will be a hoot this year with big roller coaster waves and lots of forward paddling. The river is expected to have a lively season starting in April and going through the end of June at least. Combine a rafting trip on the Merced River with a visit to the famous waterfalls in Yosemite Valley for the ultimate spring getaway.

Tuolumne River

The Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River will be a great rafting choice all season long! The river will enjoy a window of increased flows this spring thanks to the bountiful snowpack, so if you are looking for rafting with some extra spice, the best time to experience this will be in May and June. By early July these higher spring flows will decrease to normal levels and the Tuolumne will continue to offer very exciting Class IV+ rafting all the way through Labor Day, September 2.

North Fork of the Stanislaus River

The North Stan is back for its second season in a row. The healthy low-elevation snowpack of 2024 will sustain a short, fun-filled season. If you’ve been eyeing this elusive Class IV+ gem for some time, this is your year! The best time for this river will be April and early May.

North Fork of the American River

This most difficult of the three forks of the American River will have a great season this year. April and May will offer the best opportunity to raft through its narrow gorge, where you can enjoy challenging and technical rapids along with the emerald green water.

Kaweah River

Although the winter began dry, the April 1 snowpack readings in the southern Sierra reported 100% of historical average. As a result, the rafting season on the Kaweah River will likely run through mid-June this year. Our recommendation is to see this river during the month of May and combine the trip with a visit to the nearby Sequoia National Park.

Goodwin Canyon

Our Goodwin Canyon season will run for three weekends in October when water releases from the upstream dam are increased to help the spawning salmon. This hidden Class IV+ stretch of the lower Stanislaus River will be available during our Goodwin Canyon Double Runs on October 12-13, 19-20, and 26-27.

California Salmon

This northernmost river we run will have an excellent season this year. While the river flows will be good for rafting through at least June this year, the best time to join us on this outstanding Class V whitewater will be the last weekend of April when trips are already planned. (Other April – June dates may be available for larger groups.)

Cherry Creek / Upper Tuolumne

The rafting season on Cherry Creek will start once river flows decrease to normal levels, which is expected to happen in early July this year. The best time to plan a Cherry Creek trip will be between mid-July and September 2 which is the last day of planned water releases for rafting on this river.

If you want to dig into greater detail about the flows for each river, check our Real-Time Flow Reports for California Rivers.

We’d love to help you choose the best time and the best river for your rafting trip! Contact us by phone, email, Live Chat.


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