Idaho’s Salmon River, known as the “River of No Return”, is a remote journey into one of the lower 48’s great wilderness areas. Colorado and Utah’s Green River and its history of early exploration will forever be associated with General John Wesley Powell. Then there’s the grand-daddy of them all, the Colorado, flowing through the Grand Canyon. Rapids here are so huge they are measured by a completely different yardstick.
In California, there’s the Merced; a fresh, snowmelt fed series of swift, sparkling, narrow, bouncing sets of waves that flow only in the spring and early summer. Farther north, the Main Tuolumne, affectionately known as the “T”, is the State’s premier multi-day Wild & Scenic Sierra rafting experience. Class IV-V rapids, like Clavey Falls, Ram’s Head, and Gray’s Grindstone, provide plenty of challenges and inspiration for great stories around a river campfire in this scenic, roadless canyon.
Then there is Cherry Creek. This famously wild 9-mile section is young by comparison. First pioneered for rafting in the late 1970’s by Sierra Mac River Trips, Cherry Creek quickly became a legend, gaining a widely respected reputation as the new standard for class V rafting in California. Paddlers from every walk of life have come here to test their mettle, to be reawakened to life’s possibilities, and to feel the excitement and unadulterated fun that comes with rafting a Class V river.
This section of river more than lives up to its reputation. Trips here are truly like no other. Each begins with a Class V Training Seminar. Then, starting on Cherry Creek and then merging with the Upper Tuolumne, “The Creek” moves quickly down a steep canyon with a succession of intense back to back rapids and little room between, demanding a high level of attention and focus to navigate.
When Sierra Mac began leading trips here in 1982, only a few of our guests chose this level of adventure. After all, it’s not for everybody. Participants need to be in good physical condition, and be willing to work as a team to negotiate complex hydraulics. In the intervening years, more and more visitors have come to seek exactly that kind of recreational challenge and exhilaration. Rafting technology has developed to accommodate the more technical demands of navigating class V whitewater. Highly refined oar-paddle combination, self-bailing rafts, stronger lighter oars, and most importantly, a unique breed of experienced class V guides who bring kayaking instincts and a sixth sense of how rafts interact with moving water. This has all led to an exemplary safety record and growing numbers of guests who come to enjoy our Cherry Creek-Upper Tuolumne trips.
If you are considering a trip on Cherry Creek, this will be a great year to join us. Projected flows are expected to be ideal, between 1500 and 1800 CFS , considered the sweet spot for running this very unique stretch of river. Better yet, extend your adventure: Enjoy dinner and spend the night at our riverside camp and then continue for another 18 miles (1 or 2 days) of rapids and beach camping on the Main Tuolumne for California’s absolute best river trip. If you have questions about rafting Cherry Creek, call Marty or Tom at 209-591-8027.