Angels Camp, CA…O.A.R.S., the worldwide leader in whitewater rafting with river trips throughout the West, is gearing up for a solid rafting season on California and Oregon’s most popular whitewater rivers despite below average snowpack conditions throughout the region.
The positive 2014 California rafting outlook is the result of smart water management decisions by local utilities, and in some cases, essential agreements that guarantee reliable flows for recreational uses on dam-controlled rivers such as the Klamath and the American.
On the South Fork of the American River, water releases for recreational use are assured based on licensing agreements with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). Reliable flows for boating are expected three days per week (Saturday through Monday) in April and May, followed by five days per week (Thursday through Monday) beginning Memorial Day weekend and lasting through Labor Day. Currently, boatable flows are also expected throughout the summer on the Middle Fork of the American River, which has ample water in upstream reservoirs for rafting the majority of days between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The Hetch Hetchy Water and Power (HHWP) recreational flows update from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission suggests that the Tuolumne River watershed has a significantly higher percentage of normal water levels than the rest of the state and that outfitters should have good rafting conditions on the Tuolumne River at least through June 15th of this year. Earlier in the year, HHWP indicated the Tuolumne River would see releases of 1100 cubic feet per second seven days per week, excluding every other Wednesday, from June through August—ideal flows for rafting. However, with multiple agencies vying for precious water supplies, an agreement for summer flows is still pending, with final word expected on May 1st. At this point, O.A.R.S. remains optimistic the Tuolumne will have good summer flows this year.
In the northern part of the state, the Klamath River, which is also dam-controlled, will rely on relatively healthy upstream reservoir levels this year and is expected to have a normal rafting season for the duration of the summer.
Similarly, rafting on southern Oregon’s Rogue River will be unaffected by below average snowpack this year due to reservoir levels in Lost Creek Lake and Applegate Lake, which are listed at or near normal levels. Outfitters on the Rogue are counting on exceptionally good rafting conditions this season as a result of plentiful rain.
In 2013—another dry year in terms of snowpack averages—O.A.R.S. saw record-setting numbers on many of these dam-controlled rivers mainly due to the reliability of scheduled releases. This year, rafters can again count on good water as they begin to nail down their summer vacation plans.
Brief Window Available for Rafting on California’s Free-Flowing Rivers
Meanwhile, rafting on California’s free-flowing rivers is not out of the question. Whitewater trips on the Kern, Merced and North Fork American Rivers, which are dependent on seasonal runoff, will be available to rafters for a brief window of opportunity this spring despite snowpack averages across the Sierra Nevada that are well below normal.
In southern California, seasonal flows for rafting on the Upper Kern and Forks of the Kern are anticipated through early June, while the Lower Kern season is expected to go through early July. Outside of Yosemite National Park, the Merced River currently has boatable flows, which are expected to persist at least through the later part of May. The North Fork of the American River near Sacramento and Lake Tahoe is also running as of this week with a potential rafting window through April 27th.
Individuals or groups interested in rafting the Kern, Merced or North Fork American Rivers should look to schedule a trip soon to take advantage of the best whitewater.
Some 500,000 guests later, O.A.R.S. has been providing whitewater rafting vacations since 1969. Over the decades the company has set the standard in first-class rafting, sea kayaking and multi-sport adventure, with destinations and unparalleled experiences on over 35 rivers and coastlines around the world. O.A.R.S. caters to active travelers of all ages and abilities with more than 75 unique itineraries, including one-day and weekend escapes. In 2013, for the seventh consecutive year, Condé Nast Traveler recognized Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservation Manager and International Adventure Travel Consultant, as Condé Nast Traveler’s standalone Top Travel Specialist in the River Rafting category. In 2013 Outside, America’s leading multimedia active-lifestyle brand, named O.A.R.S. one of the top two outfitters in the world in its annual Active Travel Awards recognition program.
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