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...we got skunked on permits this year, and one idea we are toying with is taking a trip to California to chain together some of the more popular day runs and / or overnight raft runs.

I'm not very familiar with the geography or rivers of California, and was wondering what a feasible itinerary would look like. We are mostly looking for class III/IV runs, and also wondering what a good time of year to shoot for would be?

Runs that have caught my eye so far are North Fork of the Yuba, MF American, Merced and Tuolumne.

What would be your top 5 recommended Cali, bucket list rivers?

Any observations on how hard it is to find camping, logistics and proximity of the various runs, and thoughts on how easy it is to hook up with other groups of private rafters would be much appreciated too.

TIA,

Pine
 

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I only really know the far northern CA rivers but you could put together a great trip up there. Go late may when the spring runs should be going off. The Cal Salmon is one of my favorite rivers anywhere. Has a couple of different day runs with nice camping around. Then in that general vicinity you have the Upper and Lower Klamath, Scott, Smith. All super fun and pretty!
 

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Most of my guiding career was in Cal. (almost 30 yrs ago):eek:

Lots of drainages up and down the state. Alot are run commercially but alot aren't as well. Depending on the time of year, runoff vs late summer your options will change. Also, Snowpack in the Sierras will effect the runs available.

RUNOFF
Cal Salmon
Yuba
NF american
Merced
Upper Kern
Kings?
Kaweah? (not sure on the last two)

DAM CONTROLLED
Lower Klamath
Hell's corner (Klamath)
Burnt Ranch gorge (trinity)
MF American
SF American
Tuolmne
Lower Kern

As I said, lots more than these.
California Whitewater by Cassidy and Calhoun (book), has lots of info but may not be up to date.

Website: https://www.whitewaterguidebook.com/california/

HAVE FUN! Lots of options....
 

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Tuolumne is my personal favorite, typically a two day trip with world class scenery and the rapids are plentiful but fun IMO. The Merced for day runs and I wouldn't discount the South Fork of the American mid week, you'd be surprised how few people there are non weekend. The Klamath has many sections and good camping along the river. Every river I gave you except the Merced is dam controlled with reliable flows in the summer, keep in mind CA is experiencing an extreme drought this winter....again.
 

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RUNOFF
Cal Salmon
Yuba
NF american
Merced
Upper Kern
Kings
Kaweah

DAM CONTROLLED
Lower Klamath
Hell's corner (Klamath)
Burnt Ranch gorge (trinity)
MF American
SF American
Tuolmne
Lower Kern

If you’re looking for the runoff rivers I’d probably plan for late May. As things look now it’s well below avg water content. The Kaweah may be up & done in a couple weeks. The dam release stretches should go through at least June. Depending on your availability hitting a Merced/Tuolumne and then Klamath could make for an interesting trip. If the Kaweah happens to be running while you’re here, it’s worth it.
 
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