There is whitewater to ride on California's American River, and it flows through the mountain scenery of the Sierra Nevada and some of the state's historic Gold Rush country.
Perk up your travel appetite by browsing American River a load of information on rafting the river's three forks and on finding outfitters and guides. If you'd rather not shoot the rapids, look under "More Recreation" for ample information on pursuing wild trout, hiking and biking the extensive trails in this section of the Sierra Nevada, or letting a horse do the hiking for you.
The scenery will knock you out. Look under "Resources" for an extensive gallery of shots by photographers who live and work in the area. That section also has maps, and directories of places to stay, river organizations and equipment rental companies.
As with all things outdoors, GORP has a guide with information on access points along the three forks, regulations, camping and even a designated "quiet zone" on the South Fork. The editors also point out that this is "Scenic beauty with hidden dangers. ... The North and Middle Forks are not for beginners ..."
Check out the photos of raft trips under "Rafting Blog" at one of the river tour companies, Mother Lode River Center which advertises trips on all three forks of the American, including family excursions. Outfits such as All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting offer rafting on the American as well as other California rivers; look for their map to see if any of these other streams fit your travel plans. And if you're taking the kids, Family Vacations & Family Adventures specializes in giving everyone a good time.
The American's North and Middle forks fall out of the mountains in Placer County which shows off its scenery in an extensive photo gallery at the bottom of the page, next to the detailed map. Check out "About Placer County" on the top menu bar; this is historic gold mining country and you can follow the miners' old wagon trails, visit museums and try your own hand at panning for gold. And since we got here by following the American River, you might want to look under "Things to Do" for "Outdoor Recreation," and then "Water Activities" for a link to a guide to outfitters that have permits to run river trips.
The South Fork flows through El Dorado County where you'll find places to stay, wineries, and farms and ranches you and the kids can visit. Browse through "What To Do ..." for gold panning on the south Fork and the Gold Bug Mine in Placerville. El Dorado County is part of the High Sierra Visitors Council whose counties offer a little bit of everything from the mountain crests to the western shore of Lake Tahoe.
Remember those references to gold? Placer County's regional visitors' association is Gold Country home of the California Gold Rush. Follow the links to Tuolumne County, home of Yosemite National Park or Calaveras County, the subject of Mark Twain's "Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."
Follow the American River down stream and you can take an urban respite in Sacramento the seat of state government and things to see and do including casinos, amusement parks and nightlife.