Middle Fork American River: Tunnel Chute
- Historic and active gold mining country
- Exhilarating legendary rapids
- Run Tunnel Chute Rapid (Class IV), a world famous rapid featured in Hollywood movies
- Gorgeous scenery
- True wilderness experience
- Back to back Class IV Rapids at the start, a calm section in the middle for lunch, and more continuous Class IV after
- Perfect Intermediate / Advanced Whitewater adventure
On this page:
About the Trip Full Day Class 4 Excitement
Easily accessed from North Lake Tahoe, Auburn, Sacramento, San Franciso and the Bay Area, rafting the Middle Fork of the American River is a true classic in the whitewater world. This Full Day Class IV+ experience will be remembered by all that attend due to its steep wilderness canyon walls and world famous whitewater rapids. If looking for an epic trip look no further.
Tahoe Whitewater river guides are committed to showing the our guests the wildest ride available on the Middle Fork of the American River. So be ready to get wet! This High Adventure Trips require a team effort; guests will be expected to exert high physical energy. If you are afraid to get wet, this is not the adventure for you.
After booking, check your confirmation email which has comprehensive trip information.
- We will see you at our meeting location: 13384 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA 95603 at 9:00am
- Park, check in, fill out any outstanding waivers, use the restroom, etc. Leave valuables at home and and personal items in your vehicles. Car keys can be left with our office staff or in your seat on our shuttle bus while you’re on the river.
- Hop on our Tahoe Whitewater Shuttle Bus for a 45 minute drive to the river.
- Gear Up & Safety Talk! You’ll be issued a Personal Flotation Device, Paddle, Helmet, Fleece, and Splash Jackets. Everyone will participate in our Safety Talk to discuss river hazards and safety protocols.
- Meet your guide! Your guide will chat about paddling and give instructions as you hop in your raft and start the tour.
- Enjoy the river! You'll be on the river for about 4.5 hours. We provide a gourmet, riverside lunch in the epic North Fork gorge.
- We'll shuttle you back to the meeting / parking location.
Ages 13+ and previous rafting experience is recommended but not necessary. This Class IV section requires a team effort - everyone will be exerting effort and paddling. If you're not comfortable with exhilarating rapids, or getting wet in big drops and waves, this is not the trip for you.
Do I need to know how to swim?
It is recommended but not mandatory. We provide a helmet and a Type V, US Coast Guard approved personal flotation device, designed to float you on your back, high in the water.
What do I need to wear?
We have packing lists for you to review for each of our different trips. It can be significantly colder during March-May so we encourage our guests to always be prepared.
It’s my first time rafting, do I need experience?
We encourage previous experience for our more difficult, Class IV Whitewater Rafting Trips. Feel free to call us with any concerns or questions about appropriate trips for your group.
Monday - Friday @ 9:00 AM
Some Weekend Dates
April 20 - September, flow depending
- Helmet, Paddle, Personal Flotation Device (aka PFD or lifejacket)
- Professional River Guide in each raft
- Gourmet, riverside lunch
- Shuttle to and from our meeting/parking location
Our guides are the best in the business, prioritizing safety and guest experience. They love what they do and it shows through their passion for the area's history, geology and ecology. With experience on rivers around the globe, we know you'll enjoy your guide as much as we do.
Tahoe Whitewater's owner, Mike Miltner, pioneered commercial whitewater rafting on the Truckee River in the 1980's and 90's when government ordinances prohibited whitewater rafting on the Truckee. Mike fell in love with the Truckee River and began battling local, state, and federal opposition. Successful in his mission to share the Truckee, Mike paved the way for people to experience the beauty and adventure the Truckee River has to offer. And over 30 years now, Tahoe Whitewater has been sharing our love, experience, and knowledge of the area with guests.
On the North Fork of the American River our rafts can take up to 6 guests + a guide.
We use 13' and 14' rafts.
We meet at a public parking lot directly behind Raley's Supermarket in Auburn, CA.
You’ll leave your vehicles for the day and hop into our Tahoe Whitewater shuttle bus with Yellow River Rafts on the roof. This location has public restrooms to use prior to a short drive down to the river. We’ve never had an issue in the parking lots, but we recommend leaving valuables at home. You may leave small personal items in your seat in our shuttle bus for the duration of your rafting tour. After booking, you’ll receive a confirmation email with a “Trip Details” PDF attachment with all important info, packing lists, etc.
Mile 0.0 Colfax-Iowa Hill Bridge Put-In
Mile 0.2 Beginner's Luck Class III
Mile 0.4 Flake Rock
Mile 0.4 - 0.8 Slaughter's Sluice (Class IV)
Mile 0.8 Chamberlain Falls (Class IV+)
Mile 1.1 Tongue and Groove (Class IV)
Mile 1.9 Zig-Zag (Class IV)
Mile 2.0 Fern Hill
Mile 2.2 Achilles Heel (Class IV)
Mile 2.5 Bogus Thunder or Snowball (Class IV)
Mile 2.6 Grand Slalom (Class III)
Mile 3.1 Staircase (Class IV)
Mile 3.3 Nose Stand Class III
Mile 3.5 Indian Creek (on left)
Mile 4.8 Yankee Jim's Bridge/ Shirttail Canyon (on left)
Mile 5.4 Bunch Canyon (side hike)
Mile 7.0 Sore Finger Point
Mile 9.3 Ponderosa Way Bridge Take-Out
What to Expect From Booking to Rafting the Middle Fork American
After Making a Reservation
After your booking is complete, a confirmation email will be sent including a summary of your group size, date, river section, meeting time and location.
Online Waivers will be provided in your confirmation email. ALL participants must fill out waivers prior to the trip. Please fill these out before arriving.
A “Trip Details” PDF will be attached to your confirmation email containing:
- driving directions
- pack list
- other helpful info
On the River
This Intermediate/ Advanced whitewater river rafting trip is suitable for adventure seekers looking for a classic California Whitewater trip. We begin the river trip portion just below the Oxbow dam and powerhouse. This dam allows consistent summer flows all summer long. From here we set out for an incredible day on the river as this wilderness 17 mile run offers some of the best summer long advanced whitewater in the state. Rapids start out from the get go with a fast splashy rapid called “Good Morning”. Rapids continue as the boats soar over the beautifully lined river bed filled with white quartz veins slicing through grey granite and dark limestone. Within the first mile and a half of the trip you’ll run one of the biggest rapids of the day, the legendary Class IV+ “Tunnel Chute”. In 1889 gold miners blasted out this chute and tunnel in order to mine the pre-existing river bed. By changing the river, the miners created a wild whitewater rush for boaters to enjoy over a century later. This man made rapid makes this advanced run a trip you’ll never forget. Halfway through the trip, the river slows down creating perfect opportunities to swim, play games, and absorb the warm summer sun as well beautiful beaches for your guides to fix a gourmet lunch. If time permits, lush creeks and side canyons offer a perfect side hike, transforming your surroundings into a cool lush Eden. The trip ends with more high adventure rapids as the river gradient steepens for an exciting finish. Steep drops await, technical boat maneuvering is a must, as you and your crew jet through the rapids. This high adventure trip is catered to guests looking for a little more action. Due to the nature of the trip, children must be 13 years old and strong swimmers to participate. Don’t hesitate to come on this classic California whitewater adventure. You’ll be glad you did.