3 Epic Whitewater Adventures in California’s Far North

Brought to you by Discover Siskiyou

Siskiyou County is known to many as California’s hub of outdoor adventure. There are dozens of waterfalls, endless hikes and pristine lakes ready for exploring surrounding the mighty Mount Shasta. If you’re looking for some adrenaline-pumping action in Siskiyou, your best bet might be a whitewater adventure.

If you want to find some epic whitewater in Siskiyou, you have three great choices that offers all types of rapids, including Class I all the way up to Class V rapids. Let’s break down the best options for a whitewater adventure in Siskiyou County:

Klamath River

Photo: Indigo Creek Outfitters

When discussing whitewater in Siskiyou, most people will immediately point to the Klamath River. In fact, it may be the favorite river for rafting enthusiasts on the entire West Coast.

The Wild and Scenic Klamath River is the second largest river in California and features more than 180 miles of premier whitewater rafting. To see all of the rapids, you’ll have to endure a 2 to 3 day trip, camping along the way. The trip includes over 30 rapids ranging from Class III to IV+, including two rapids each over a football field long.

The Klamath River begins in Southern Oregon and moves down into NorCal through the rugged Siskiyou Mountains. The upper section begins near Ashland, Oregon and ends all the way down into California at Copco Lake. The lower section begins in Happy Camp and is one of the most well-loved trips for families with small children. The remote stretch of the “Lower K” is full of wildlife and even includes a side hike to Ukonom Falls. Watch out for Bigfoot, since this is where legends place his origins.

Here’s a quick glimpse at one of the football-field-sized rapids of the Klamath:

Learn more about whitewater rafting on the Klamath River

Upper Sacramento River

Photo: Raft California

The Sacramento River is one of the staple tributaries of Northern California, bursting out of the ground at the base of Mount Shasta and running all the way down into the San Francisco Bay. While most of the river is calm, the upper stretches prove to be one of the great rafting spots in NorCal.

The water on the Upper Sac is perfect in the early summer and springtime, giving rafters continuous Class III rapids as they make their way through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, with views of Mount Shasta and Castle Crags. You’re also guaranteed to see some spectacular wildlife as well as some big fish while you’re floating on one of California’s best fisheries.

Here’s a quick glimpse into the trip:

Learn more about the rafting trip on the Upper Sacramento River

Cal Salmon

Photo: Whitewater Guidebook

The California Salmon River, otherwise known as the Cal Salmon, is no doubt one of Northern California’s best kept secrets. Located in a remote wilderness area just south of the Marble Mountains, the Cal Salmon runs through deep canyon walls creating legendary Class IV and V rapids throughout three forks of the river. The river is free flowing and is usually best rafted in the spring, but you can also do it in the winter.

The Cal Salmon isn’t close to anything, almost guaranteeing you’ll have the entire place to yourself throughout the day. It is a prime destination for expert kayakers, including the world-famous Rush Sturges, who grew up in nearby Forks of Salmon.

While the rapids are enough to make this run entirely worth the long haul into the NorCal wilderness, the scenery is no doubt the icing on the cake. Frequent wildlife sightings of black bear, deer, and many species of birds, found amidst a dense, lush forest, and snow covered mountains.

See the run for yourself:

Learn more about rafting on the Cal Salmon

Have fun on your whitewater adventure in Siskiyou County!

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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