South Fork American River Releasing Consistent Flows

Posted February 15, 2006 by Robyn Suddeth

south-fork-american-riverI seem to find excuses to drive away from the city and up to the foothills with increasing frequency as the year rolls on toward spring. The last few times up there I’ve noticed a lot more cars parked at put-in locations, as well as a lot of water rushing beneath me as I drove over the Highway 49 bridge. Aside from jealousy toward the owners of those cars who were probably out on the river, these observations sparked my curiosity. What’s the South Fork been running at these days? Following is today’s flow graph taken from California’s Department of Water Resources website:

Graph of flows on the South Fork of the American River at Chili Bar

Although only portraying today’s flows, this graph is fairly indicative of the entire month, as well as of normal winter levels for this time of year. Flows have hovered consistently between 1500 and 4000 cfs, often higher up toward 3000 for most of the day. That means really fun waves down in the gorge and in Meatgrinder and Troublemaker on the upper run– time for guides to pull those boats out of the garage and spend one of these sunny February days on the river!
One word of advice though- be absolutely sure which boat is which before you are left stranded at put-in with both vehicles on a shuttle run, nothing but a hand-pump and an eighteen foot bucket boat for two people. (The last time we went rafting in February, my freind Tessa and I somehow managed to mistake an age-old bucket boat for a sporty ten-foot hyside.) We spent much of the day empathizing with the contents of a taco, while our friends in their tiny kayaks got a good laugh.


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