The Float on the American River


How to spend a lazy (or crazy) weekend day drifting down the lower American River with a group of people who float your boat.

STARTING POINT: Sunrise Boulevard river access point

END POINT: River Bend Park (aka Goethe Park)

FLOAT TIME: 3–4 hours


•  30–45 minutes in, you’ll hit the San Juan “rapids”: the liveliest part of the float, but still totally tame.

•  Effie Yeaw Nature Center will be on your right-hand side less than 3 miles down from your starting point, followed by Ancil Hoffman Park, which is a great place to picnic.

•  Gilligan’s Island sandbar near Ancil Hoffman Park is a great place for a pit stop (and some partying). It’s notorious for getting pretty rowdy on busy weekends, so revel at your own risk!


•  Pack your cell phone and car keys in a floating, water-tight storage bag or container.

•  Arrange for a pickup at River Bend Park, or drop off a car there before heading to Sunrise.

•  If you rent rafts from River Rat, continue floating to the pickup location in Carmichael at the Harrington access point. They offer $5 shuttle rides back every 30 minutes from 1 to 5 p.m. on weekends.

•  Remember: No alcohol is allowed (on or off the water) from Watt Avenue to Hazel Avenue on the Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day weekends. And no glass containers are ever allowed.

•  Tie your group’s floatation devices together to keep your crew cohesive.

•  Items you’ll be glad you have: water-appropriate footwear, disinfectant wipes, cooler, sunscreen, a T-shirt and hat. Keep extra towels in your car, too.

•  Pack a lunch to munch on. Beach Hut Deli (2095 Golden Centre Lane, Gold River) is close to the put-in point.

•  Beware of groups brandishing water weapons! (Large tourist groups are sure to be packing.) If you want to bring your own artillery, opt for long-range water guns and cannons to soak unassuming floaters from afar.

•  A handful of public bathrooms are located along the river at Jim Jones Bridge, Sacramento Bar, Rossmoor Bar, Ancil Hoffman Park, Hagan Park and River Bend Park.

Where to rent rafts

AMERICAN RIVER RAFT RENTALS 11257 S. Bridge St., Rancho Cordova; (888) 338-7238; 

RIVER RAT RAFT & BIKE 4053 Pennsylvania Ave., Fair Oaks; (916) 966-6777;