The South Fork of the American River is a great all-around stretch for private boaters of all levels. Novices will find the 3-mile, Class II “Coloma to Lotus” stretch to be an ideal introduction to whitewater. As your novice skill improve explore a little further on downstream on the C-G section (Coloma to Greenwood a 5.5-mile stretch).  Intermediate boaters enjoy the increased challenge of the Class III “Chili Bar” and “Gorge” runs, and expert kayakers spend hours perfecting their rodeo moves in the world-famous Chili Bar Hole, Maya, First Threat, Barking Dog, and other play spots.

Looking for fellow paddlers? Check out our links page for kayaking clubs and links to other paddling-related web sites, or post in the forum to find like-minded paddlers.

The resources pages have lots of logistical information, including maps and directions, shuttle notes, local food, and lodging.

There are several schools offering instruction on the South Fork. Some offer roll sessions and kayak polo in heated pools for comfortable entertainment and practice during the spring and winter months. Explore the options to find a program that suits your needs.

Kayak Schools & Instruction

  • Current Adventures
    Current Adventure Kayak School & Trips
    Over 25 years guiding and adventures in California and beyond! Professional, local instructors, small classes of 3:1 ratio. Whitewater and lake outings. Kids & Adults camps. 530-333-9115
  • California Watersport Collective
    World class kayak instruction on the American River and surrounding regions. We offer single and multi-day trips and classes in whitewater kayaking and standup paddleboarding for ALL ages and skill levels. 530-426-2820
  • Coloma Shuttle
    The Coloma Shuttle is a private boater shuttle service on the South Fork of the American River funded by a grant from the El Dorado County Air Quality Management District. Our low cost shuttle fee $10.00 per boater picks up you and your gear. 530-303-2404
  • The River Store
    The River Store
    Kayaking-Rafting-Camping. Sales, rentals & World Class Kayak Instruction. Clothing, snacks, drinks, sundries and outdoor accessories. Visitor’s info, local experts, maps & books. Over 32 years in Lotus! 530-626-3435