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Rocky Mountains, American River, Chili Bar Hole

Playspot: USA, California, Rocky Mountains, American River, Chili Bar Hole

What's it like

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The South Fork of the American River starts at Echo summit near Lake Tahoe and flows west, down to the Folsom reservoir in Sacramento. Along this stretch there are approximately 60 miles of navigable river, offering some spectacular whitewater from class II-V.  Chili bar has reliable flow, great play spots, and is easy to get to.

At the put in for the Chili Bar to Coloma run is Chili Bar hole - a great play spot at flows above 1500 cfs. The spot consists of a breaking wave and a hole, with eddies on both sides of the river, which make getting to them a snap.

In flows of 600 cfs it is real fun and the highlight of the river. In flows of 900 cfs it is small on river left but still fun. In flows of 1800 cfs and up it is as wide as the river and again, fun.

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The best times of the year are from Spring through Fall with a flow of 2500-3500 cfs. Caution: Flows fluctuate depending on rainfall, temperature and release from the dam upstream and the gauges may not always be accurate. Refer to the daily flows to see the pattern, but don't make your final boating decision until you've looked at the water.

How to get there

From Sacramento California take U.S. Highway 50 East to Plaserville. Make a left turn onto Highway 49, bear right on Highway 193 and descend 3 miles to the bridge over the Amercian river. The put in is below the bridge on the right bank ($2.00 fee).

More info

Flow phone +1 916 653 9647.


Many rafts, playboaters and spectators during the hot summer weekends.


Chili Bar Whitewater Rodeo (normally in September).

Info sources

[mail address protected from spambots with javascript] %3e">Steve

Sierra Kayak



Palm Orbit Rand Shock
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