Despite the drought that plagued Southern California last winter, river rafters can still get their paddles wet: Parts of Northern California and other Western states got the rain and snow that missed SoCal.
California's Kings, Kern, Kaweah, Merced and Tuolumne rivers have shortened or nonexistent rafting seasons this year, thanks to the drought, but many rivers in the West have plenty of water for rafting, kayaking and tubing.
Here's a sampling of outfitters that are running rafting trips on rivers in Northern California and the West as well as on other rivers predicted to have good flows through August and maybe even September.
Some companies also offer trips by kayak, inner tube or cataraft, a two-pontoon high-performance craft that's a cross between a kayak and a raft.
W.E.T. River Trips, California
Trips on the South and Middle forks of the American River will run on schedule with one- to three-day options. For more adventurous paddlers, some Middle Fork trips include the Middle Fork American Tunnel Shoot Run, in which rafters first shoot through North America's only Class IV (advanced) man-made rapids and then through a tunnel. For the less adventurous, its Class II-III trips on the Klamath River are more scenic than white water.
Sacramento, (888) 723-8938, http://www.raftwet.com. One-day South Fork trip from $119.
Russian River Adventures, California
Sixty miles north of San Francisco, the Russian River is fed by Lakes Sonoma and Mendocino so the summer flow is fairly consistent. This company offers lazy, child- and dog-friendly, self-guided floats past redwoods and vineyards. No rapids here.
Healdsburg, (800) 280-7627, http://www.russianriveradventures.com. Half-day trips from $42.50.
Hualapai River Runners, Arizona
Instead of running casinos, the Hualapai tribe runs rivers — specifically the Colorado River in the western section of the Grand Canyon. Its one-day trips offer a gentler river experience than the traditional Grand Canyon screamin'-rapids ride. The trip ends with a helicopter ride to the top of Grand Canyon West where, for $54, visitors can walk on the U-shaped Skywalk — a glass walkway cantilevered 75 feet out and 4,000 feet above the river.
Peach Springs, (888) 868-9378, http://www.grandcanyonwest.com. Tour from $269 plus $79 transportation fee.
Red River Adventures, Utah
This Moab, Utah-based company will run all its one- to six-day trips on the Colorado, Green and Salmon rivers in Utah and Idaho "until people quit coming because it's too cold," said owner Carl Dec. Its Dolores River trips are canceled this year because of low water.
Moab, (877) 259-4046, http://www.redriveradventures.com. Family-friendly Fishwater full-day trip, $75 per adult and $65 per child.
Canyonlands Field Institute, Utah
A nonprofit aimed primarily at getting schoolchildren and teens into the wilderness to learn about geology, biology and archaeology, CFI also runs adult, family and customized science-oriented raft and canoe trips on the Colorado, Green and San Juan rivers. Guides are trained naturalists. Its motto: "Not an adrenaline rush, but a mind and heart hush."
Moab, (800) 860-5262, http://www.cfimoab.org. Custom three-day/three-night Colorado River trip, $200 per day per adult.
Mountain Whitewater Descents, Colorado