RVs the New Rafts on the American River

Posted January 14, 2006 by Robyn Suddeth

During the peak hours of heavy rain and flooding last week, the South Fork American River was raging at around forty times it’s usual flow. I was having a tough time imagining where all that water could go, so I called friends in Coloma to get some stories and a better visual on the day.

Mother Lode Kitchen Under Water
Scott [Armstrong] informed me that the river was in some places twenty feet above its usual height, and had managed to grab a few RVs and motor homes from some of the parks upstream on its way down to Folsom. One of the RVs hit a roadblock along the way in the form of Highway 49, closing off traffic on the bridge for a while. Other sights included propane tanks and trees.

The next day the water had returned back to a boatable, but still high, flow. Scott, Danny and a few others headed out to raft the Lower South Fork and take a look at the damage. They said that RV parts and propane tanks could be seen hanging out in trees way above the river!

I, of course, wanted to know all about the whitewater; what happened to all our beloved rapids?? Well apparently much of the rocks and technical maneuvers were covered up, replaced instead by large waves.
Cronin Ranch Lunch Site, American River at really high water
This sounds like a lot of fun, but Scott warned that the dangerous part of being on a flooding river is that it becomes very difficult to reach the sides. The water hits its walls with such force that it all gets pushed and swirled right back out to the center of the river. But don’t worry- everyone just made sure they stayed in the boat that day.

Thanks to Scott Armstrong for some excellent field reporting!


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