'Epic' California whitewater rafting conditions expected for 2nd straight year

J.R. Stone Image
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
'Epic' CA whitewater rafting conditions expected for 2nd year
"Epic" whitewater rafting conditions are expected for a second straight year in California.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With the summer months moving in, California's snowpack is once again melting into high water supply.

You may remember the snow levels after those historic storms last season. The state finished the rainy season at 237% of average.

While this year is definitely a drop-off from last, it's still at 113% of average, meaning there is plenty of water for things like whitewater rafting.

"Oh yeah! Oh lovely, waaaa whoo!" can be heard in a video from someone on a raft going down the American River.

There's something special knowing that not only is whitewater rafting happening right now in the Sierra - it's thriving, again.

"So this is the first time we've had back-to-back really strong snow years in, I don't know how long, in like 20 years or 20 plus years," said Deric Rothe of Sierra Whitewater Inc.

MORE: Lake Tahoe expected to fill up this spring due to snow melt and wet weather, officials say

Rothe says the late season storms have and will make a huge difference.

"So let's say it snows a lot in November and December and gets warm, you lose all that before the summer months. Here, where we had the big snowfall, was like April and into May so it's right there, right now coming down now," says Rothe.

Pauly Miltner of Tahoe Whitewater Tours says the start to this year's whitewater rafting has been "epic." The California snowpack was not as high as last year but it was still average to strong and that is night and day better than a drought.

Miltner took video earlier this season on the North Fork section of the American River. A section where rafting can be limited in dry years.

As to the best time to go whitewater rafting this year:

"We collectively think that June is by far the best month to go rafting. The water is still up from kind of the tail end of the snow melt, yet the air temperature and the air temperature is extremely nice," says Miltner.

MORE: California reports first increase in groundwater supplies in 4 years

If you can't get here by then, both Miltner and Rothe say their companies will have rafting through September due to the late season storm systems.

"We rely on, most of the rivers we run, by reservoirs, as well as kind of lakes and things like that so when those are nice and high it lasts," said Miltner.

"It's a lot of fun and you know people don't really realize we got this recreational paradise right in our backyard and I'd encourage them to check it out, even if you're not that strong of a swimmer. Everybody has a lifejacket on, we have a helmet on, you can float down through swimmer's rapids, jump off a rock, really a great time," said Rothe.

For more information on whitewater rafting trips, we've listed web sites from the two companies that we talked with.

For Sierra Whitewater, click here.

For Tahoe Whitewater Tours, click here.

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