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August 10th, 2023

Find Your Adventure on the American River

For the first time in years, many of California’s most beautiful rivers are once again flush with fresh flow, inviting us to enjoy world-class outdoor activities. Regarded as the the most popular whitewater-rafting river in the West, the American River is a 30-mile long waterway that runs from the Sierra Nevada mountain range to its confluence with the Sacramento River in downtown Sacramento, not far from Cyrene at Meadowlands.

American River Rafting OARS near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

Along the way, you’ll discover the American’s three main forks – the South, Middle, and North – which provide power, irrigation for northern California, and exceptional recreation. Whatever suits your fancy – from rafting to hiking, biking, camping, bird watching, and even a sudsy Brew Boat tour – you’ll find your adventure on the American River.

Rafting - Raft Rentals near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

River Rafting in Sacramento

Spend a lazy day rafting down the American River from historic Folsom to Sacramento, stopping at the riverbank beaches or islands on the way. You can also launch a boat on the Sacramento River and explore the waterway, passing under Tower Bridge and the century-old I Street Bridge along Old Sacramento.

River Rafting the South Fork American River - OARS near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

River Rafting the South Fork American River

The South Fork of the American is the people’s river. Rafting this waterway is ideal for first-timers, yet still fun for repeaters. The Class II–III rating accurately indicates that participants are surely in for a thrill or two in certain sections—like the infamous Troublemaker rapid—but there’s little chance of bouncing out of your raft. The quintessentially Californian adventure even includes a Golden State history lesson: The river runs right past the spot where the 1849 Gold Rush began, at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma.

American River Rafting Troublemaker - OARS near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

OARS 2863 Highway 49, Angels Camp, CA 95222

Less than an hour from Sacramento, OARS provides epic rafting excursions that will exhilarate paddlers of all experience levels. Navigate the scenic American River with elite guides, unplug for a bit, and experience the area’s natural beauty. OARS was founded in 1969 by river pioneer George Wendt. By 1974 the company found its permanent home in Angels Camp, California, where George and his wife Pam turned a fledgling rafting company into what is now one of the most respected outfitting companies in the world. Other rafting companies to check out are H2O Adventures and Raft Rentals.

American River Parkway Trail near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

American River Parkway

The American River Parkway runs along the American River from Folsom Dam to the confluence with the Sacramento River in Sacramento County. The parkway consists of many smaller parks, bike trails, and boat launching points. The parkway can be accessed by various exits off Highway 50. The Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail runs the entire length of the parkway and provides access for hiking, horseback riding, cycling, inline skating, and strolling.

Biking - Visit Sacramento near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

Bicycling Along the American River Parkway

More than 32 miles of paved bike trails along the scenic American River Parkway in Sacramento highlight the city’s cycling amenities. Hop on the trail at many different points and ride along the American River, or rent a bike in Old Sacramento and take it for an urban spin. Sacramento has added multiple bike lanes in the past few years, including green-painted bicycling zones on Capitol Mall.

Discovery Park - Sacramento Magaaine near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

Discovery Park Garden Highway & Discovery Park Dr. Sacramento, CA 95827

Discovery Park, a portion of the American River Parkway, is a 275-acre park located at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers off Interstate 5 at the Richards Boulevard or Garden Highway exits. Activity areas include boating, fishing, group picnics, multi-use field areas, archery range, and a variety of trails for horses, biking and hiking. Also available are covered group picnic shelters, horseshoes, playground equipment, and volleyball.

Bird Watching - Sacramento Audubon Society near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

Bird Watching in the Sacramento Region

At the confluence of the Sacramento, American and Cosumnes rivers and gateway to 1,200 miles of California Delta waterways, Sacramento welcomes millions of migratory birds each fall and winter. A major player on the Pacific Flyway, winged visitors make their way to flooded rice fields, nature preserves, parks, and refuges. Breathtaking fly-ins of ducks, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, snow geese, and tundra swans are the showstoppers, but wildlife viewing is a year-round attraction in the Sacramento Valley.

 Sac Brew Boat - Visit Sacramento near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

Sac Brew Boat 

This 90-minute tour along the Sacramento River includes seating for up to 16 passengers, a captain and deckhand to ensure a safe and fun time, along with a short stop at The Virgin Sturgeon. Be sure to bring your own drinks and snacks! Sac Brew Boat is owned by husband and wife team Chris and Sarah Ferren-Cirino who met during their time together on the UC Davis Track and Cross Country Teams. Sharing a love of both exercise and tasty beer, they fell in love with the concept of this giant pedal-powered cycleboat. Part boat, part bike, and all party, it makes for a fun, interactive experience.

Cabin - American River Resort near Cyrene at Meadowlands in Lincoln, California

American River Resort 6019 New River Rd, Coloma, CA 95613

The American River Resort is a camping, RV and vacation rentals site nestled in a natural oak forest along the South Fork American River on Hwy. 49 in Coloma, El Dorado County. Situated on 30 wooded river-front acres, you’ll enjoy a classic camping atmosphere for family and group camping. Amenities include play areas, free hot showers, fire pits, and picnic tables in every site. Don’t feel like roughing it? The River Cabins are a comfortable alternative to camping for those who want to enjoy their time by the river with all the comforts of home. Cabins include comfortable beds, private bathroom with tub and shower, kitchenette, dining nook, and deck with propane BBQ grill, chairs and a table.

Photo Credits:

Photo #1: OARS

Photo #2: H2O Adventures

Photo #3: Raft Rentals

Photo #4: OARS

Photo #5: OARS

Photo #6: American River Parkway Trail 

Photo #7: Visit Sacramento

Photo #8: Discovery Park / Sacramento Magazine

Photo #9: Sacramento Audubon Society

Photo #10: Visit Sacramento

Photo #11: American River Resort





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