Chili Bar Rafting Trip
The Chili Bar section of the South Fork American River is an excellent Class 3 run with over 10 major rapids. The 8 mile guided trip includes calm sections of the river interspersed with wonderfully fun rapids. Its course will take you through the small mining town of Coloma, CA, where James Marshall first discovered gold at Sutter's Mill and changed the course of California history. The excitement comes to a head towards the end of this run with a popular rapid known as "Troublemaker" where you can pose for the videographers!
This river is an excellent option for both the veteran and novice rafter. The flows on the South Fork American River are the most dependable in the state, with guaranteed recreational releases for the next 50 years.
If you are looking to try your first rafting trip or if you are a rafting pro, then you can't go wrong with the Upper Chili Bar to Lotus section of the South Fork American!
At the end of your trip, a chili dog lunch will be served at River Park Resort in Lotus, CA. Enjoy a cold beverage and view your exciting Go Pro trip videos at our River Store.
This trip meets at 9:00AM and you can plan to be back at your car by 1:00PM.
Trip meets at River Park resort at 9:00AM
9:00AM - Trip check in begins. Please have your river attire on when you arrive as there are no dressing rooms at our meeting area.
9:25 AM - After all participants have checked in, we will board the shuttle vehicle for a 30 minute ride upstream to Chili Bar Put in.
10:00AM - Our trip leader will give a river orientation and safety talk. Paddling techniques and helpful rafting tips are the topics of discussion. When everyone is up to speed on trip safety, you'll board the rafts and head downstream with your guide. The action starts right away on the Upper section of the South Fork. Within 1 mile, we'll be running a long, technical rapid known as "Meatgrinder". After this, the rapids come in quick succession with "Racehorse Bend" and "Triple Threat" providing the thrills. The last Big Rapid of the trip is the grand daddy of them all... "Troublemaker". Regarded by many as the highlight of the trip, "Troublemaker" is your chance for excitement, so make sure you are smiling through this rapid for some great photo opportunities!
12:00PM - We arrive back at River Park Resort where a BBQ chili dog lunch will be served. At the resort, you may view and purchase your fun rafting videos. Cold beer, wine and other beverages are available for purchase in our river store and outdoor patio bar. Enjoy the setting, relax and share your stories about your excellent rafting trip!
1:30PM - have a safe drive home!
This trip meets and checks in at the Chili Bar Put In located at:
Beyond Limits Camp at River Park Resort
7321 River Park Drive
Lotus, CA 95651
Directions from Highway 49
Take the River Park drive south off highway 49 in Lotus, CA. In 200 yards the road will turn to gravel and you will see our large brown sign between two palm trees. Drive into our parking lot under the brown sign and check in at our river store.
- When is the best time of the year to raft the South Fork American River?
California has rafting nearly year round, but the most popular time to go is April through July for high water and maximum excitement. The early season, April-May, has great whitewater, while July-October still has plenty of action due to dam-released water.
- What is the minimum age for this trip?
The minimum age for the Chili Bar Rafting trip is 7 years old.
- Do I have to know how to swim well?
Swimming ability is desirable but not required.
- Will I need a wetsuit?
If you raft during high water, April-May, then you will need to wear a wetsuit on your trip. You can bring your own wetsuit or rent one from us. Summer rafting on the South Fork American River does not require a wetsuit.
What should I bring?
For your rafting trip, you will need to wear shorts, swim suit, t-shirt, foot protection (old tennis shoes, booties or sport sandals), and bring a dry set of clothes for your ride home. Everything that you wear on the raft will get wet, so please plan accordingly. Please do not bring valuable items (i.e. expensive clothes or shoes, jewelry, non-waterproof cameras or other items) with you on the raft as they may get wet or lost.
During the high water season, under your wetsuit you should wear swimwear or insulated synthetic winter underwear (No COTTON) on cold spring days. On cold days, wear rental wetsuit booties for extra warmth.
- What if I am a vegetarian?
Feel free to bring along any dietary items you require for lunch.
- How many people go with each trip?
During weekdays, we have smaller sized groups, and the rivers are generally less crowded, making the solitude of the trip much better than on weekends. On weekends, we generally sell out and run the maximum group size listed on the calendar. Sundays are usually less crowded than Saturdays.
- What if the weather is bad?
We will run rafting trips in any condition of weather or we may give everyone the option to take a rain-check credit if the weather is extremely unpleasant at the check-in point. After April, the weather is usually perfect for rafting.
- Can we request a guide?
Yes! If we have at least 2 weeks’ notice before your trip date, then we will make every effort possible to schedule a guide that you enjoyed in the past.
- Is it appropriate to tip our guide after the trip?
Although a tip is not expected, if you feel your guide has done an exceptional job or gone that extra step to make your trip more enjoyable and memorable, then a tip is a very nice way to show your appreciation.
What to Bring
What to bring:
For your river trip, we recommend the following items:
- Tennis shoes, sports sandals or wetsuit booties
- T-shirts or rash-guard shirts
- Dry clothes for your ride home (you can leave these dry items in your car)
- Cash if you would like to tip your guide
Please do not bring pets or valuable items.
Lock your valuables in your car and check your keys in with our store clerk before your depart on the raft,
Camping & Lodging
Your trip meets in Placerville, CA, located about 1.5 hours south of South Lake Tahoe and 1 hour north of Sacramento.
Places to stay: Motels
- Best Western - Placerville - 530-622-9100
- Super 8 - Cameron Park - 530-677-7177
- Days Inn - Placerville - 530-622-9100
- Residence Inn - Folsom - 916- 983-7289
- National 9 - 530-622-3124
- Courtyard by Marriott - Folsom
- Hilton Garden Inn - Folsom
Places to stay: Inns
- Sierra Nevada House - Coloma - 530-626-8096
- Albert Shafsky House - Placerville - 530-642-2776
- Glen Morey Country House - Placerville - 530-306-3481
- Blair Sugar Pine B&B - Placerville - 530-626-9006
Places to stay: Lake Tahoe
- Lake Tahoe Visitor's Authority - General Information 1-800-AT-TAHOE
- Lake Tahoe Accommodations - Vacation rentals 1-800-250-8013
- Lake Tahoe vacation Guide - Tahoe Keys Resort
Things to do:
Trip DetailsChili Bar
Chili Dog lunch is included.