Current River Flows
Flows are measured in cubic feet per second (CFS). For rafting it is good to have at least 600cfs. Inflatable kayaks around 400cfs. Summer flows on the South Fork are usually about 1200 to 1800cfs. The Middle Fork is 1100cfs. As the flow increases so does the speed of the current. Waves and other river features get bigger (more fun or scarier depending on your point of view).
North Fork American
This river is not dam controlled so it is totally dependent on snow melt or rain storms. We have a dry year so it's down early this year.
Middle Fork American
The Middle Fork is dam controlled so summer time rafting is dependent on the hydro release. This usually reaches full flow around 9:00AM but sometimes doesn't start till 10:00AM. That flow takes five hours to reach the class 2 section at Drivers Flat Rd so starting this run before 2:00PM is not good unless you like getting stuck on rocks. Look at the flow link in the morning and you can target your start launch time.
Middle Fork American link
South Fork American
The South Fork is also dam controlled in the summer and also in spring depending on snowpack. Power plant releases start around 8:00AM at Chilli Bar Dam and arrive at Coloma about 11:00AM. Generally they release water on the weekends mainly for recreation and start ramping down at noon or sometimes 1:00PM. So, if you are launching at Coloma you should be on the water by 2:00PM to get the full flow.
South Fork American link
Other River Links
www.friendsoftheriver.org Statewide river conservation org
www.parc-auburn.org/index.html Protect American River Canyons