California River Rafting Flow Updates

Posted May 7, 2008 by Gregg Armstrong, Co-Founder

Our official 2008 flow prediction came out on April 10, almost a month ago. We predicted a good California rafting season due to a healthy snowpack left from winter (100% of normal). We also noted that once the snow started to melt the runoff would be good and rivers would flow well. What we did not know at the time is that the month of April would be cool and the snow in the high Sierra would remain relatively in tact and preserved for a later melt. This is good news for California rafting!

If April is warm, the snow can melt early and take some of the zest out of water flows in May and June. This was not the case in 2008. In fact we will have April flows in May and May flows in June! The rafting has been great since we inflated our first rafts in early April and shoved off from shore, and it looks like it is about to get better. As of this week temperatures are beginning to raise both during the day and at night, so the snow melt is picking up speed and so are the rivers.

Free flowing rivers without man made dams like the Merced, North Fork of the American, Kaweah, North Stanislaus and Cal Salmon will have slightly longer seasons than anticipated but higher flows. Dam controlled rivers like the South and Middle Forks of the American, and the Tuolumne will have higher flows in May and early June and then shift into a consistent pattern for the duration of summer and into fall.

If you are looking for higher water flows and more exciting rafting, try to schedule your trip for May and the first half of June because every river will be running at it’s highest flow of the year. If you want hot summer days, no wet suit requirement, and good dependable flows, go in late June, July, August, or September…there is plenty of water to last all season!


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