River rafting should only be attempted with a helmet, a paddle, and a stick of gum that turns you into Man vs. Wild host Bear Grylls when chewed. Conquer nature with this Groupon.
Choose from Four Options
- $55 for a one-day South Fork American River trip with barbecue picnic lunch (up to a $110 value)<p>
Participants cut through 10.5 miles of rapids on the fork’s upper Chili Bar stretch, navigating Class III rapids such as Meatgrinder and Troublemaker, before coursing into calmer Class II stretches in the last five miles. At the end of the tour, groups gather around a picnic lunch on the grass at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park or return to the riverside camp for a barbecue.<p>
- $67 for a one-day Middle Fork American River trip, redeemable Monday—Friday (up to a $135 value)<p>
Participants soar down 18 miles of river, surrounded at points by water-carved canyon walls reaching up to 1,000 feet and dappled with verdant plant life. Whereas the river trip covers Class II and IV rapids, boats also plunge down the Class V Tunnel Chute—a churning funnel created when gold miners blasted the rock. During the excursion, guides break for a riverside lunch.<p>
- $139 for a two-day South Fork American River trip (up to a $280 value)<p>
Guides take rafters plunging down the eight-mile stretch of the Gorge, which concludes with more intense rapids. Groups then return to camp for a dinner precluded by hors d’oeuvres and a tasting of various El Dorado wines on Saturday nights. As weekend guests dine, local musicians provide relaxing music. On the second day, guests rise to navigate churning waters on the Chili Bar stretch. The excursion includes four meals over the two days, with the second-day trip concluding with a barbecue lunch.<p>
- $189 for a two-day rafting and winery tour trip (up to a $380 value)<p>
Guests gather at the riverside camp before drivers escort them across rolling landscapes to up to four or five area wineries. Staffers provide snack trays at the start of each wine tasting, which can include tours and last as long as the group desires. Upon returning to camp, guests unwind with hors d’oeuvres and wine tastings—with a special staff wine presentation on weekend trips—before gathering around a barbecue dinner. On the second day, participants rise early and river raft down the South Fork’s Chili Bar stretch.<p>
Mariah Wilderness Expeditions’ rates fluctuate throughout the week and vary depending on age.<p>
Mariah Wilderness Expeditions
Donna Hunter started whitewater rafting as a hobby, but after spending 15 years as a social worker in San Diego, she was drawn back to the river as a career. With a few friends for support and a goal to start a rafting-adventure company, she went to night school and honed her business skills. Today, with some of her staff boasting more than 20 years experience leading tours, Donna orchestrates trips down various forks of the American, Merced, Kings, and Tuolumne Rivers to pit participants against rapids as high as Class V. Certified guides lead these tours in Hyside self-bailing rafts and inflatable kayaks, with some rafts holding up to eight people.
Wilderness guides also connect their guests with civilization, often combining rafting excursions with wine tastings and trips to local vineyards. On these overnight trips and other multi-day rafting excursions such as family gold-panning trips, they build relationships with their guests, garnering a clear idea of their paddling skills and the amount of time they've spent practicing in their washing machine.
The company’s camp boasts tent cabins—with names like Eagle's Nest and Falcon's Nest—which populate riverside clearings between picnic tables, swimming holes, and volleyball courts. A camp shop prepares guests with river gear, and hot-water showers let them wash off river water. When not seeking action on the river, staffers organize camp entertainment, such as live music, games, and visits from a local gold panner who demonstrates his craft.