Take me to the river: Rafting season in Tahoe City opens | SierraSun.com

Take me to the river: Rafting season in Tahoe City opens

After having a brief window of operations earlier in the spring, Tahoe City's two rafting outfits — Truckee River Rafting and Truckee River Raft Co. — returned to the water last Thursday, signifying the start to summer rafting season on the Truckee River.

The two companies were able to open briefly during Memorial Day weekend after a release of water by Federal Water Master Chad Blanchard, due to inflows into the lake, but were sidelined afterward until last Thursday.

With Floriston rates, or rate of flow on the Truckee River at Floriston, meeting the required mean flow of 500 cubic feet per second, and Lake Tahoe's elevation below the maximum of 6,229.10 feet, the Lake Tahoe Dam remained closed until last week, which forced the two companies off the water.

Lake Tahoe's elevation was measured at 6,228.95 on June 26, according to the Water Master's daily report, with the flow rate at Farad measured at 591 cubic feet per second.

For roughly a half decade, Tahoe City's rafting companies have had irregular operating schedules due to drought or having too much water coming down the river, but according to Truckee River Rafting owner Richard Courcier, this summer should provide ample opportunity for rafters to get on the water.

"It's going to be a full summer," said Courcier. "We should stay at this level and if not higher until labor day weekend. All the creeks are drying up [down river] and they need to use Tahoe water now."

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Courcier said Truckee River Rafting was able to operate for roughly 40 days last year, and if they're able to remain open until Labor Day, it will be the most day's of operating on the river in several years.

Next door, Truckee River Rafting Co. is also open for the summer season. The company's few days of operation during Memorial Day weekend left owner Aaron Rudnick in a situation where he said he had to find work for his staff or risk losing his summer crew to other local businesses.

And so Rudnick said he unofficially joined the Tahoe City Clean-Up Day effort on June 2, sending roughly a dozen employees down river to clean up trash.

"We got to pitch in and clean up our part," said Rudnick.

The crew used an inflatable raft with an air tank and air lines known as a SNUBA to dive to the deeper spots of the river where they removed decades old trash.

"They were finding old beer cans with the pull tabs from the 70s," said Rudnick. "There were some relics in there."

Earlier this year and last year, the Water Master released enough water to push flow rates to more than 2,000 cubic feet per second, which are the highest Rudnick said he's seen on his 20 years on the river. The result of the rush of water kicked out buried refuse, but also twice destroyed the company's landing dock near the River Ranch Lodge & Restaurant. Rudnick said he hopes this season, which he projected to be the best since 2012, will help offset costs of repairing the dock the past two years, while also allowing the company to tackle projects they've been eyeing since the drought began.

This year, Truckee River Rafting Co. has set up a fundraising event for next week's Tahoe City Fourth of July fireworks show. The company will donate a large portion of its revenue earned on June 29 to the cause.

Further downstream, Truckee's three rafting outfits are open. Irie Rafting features full day and half day river trips on the Truckee, and also trips down the North Fork American River. Irie's full day trips take rafters from Boca Reservoir to Crystal Peak Park in Verdi. For more information visit RaftIrie.com.

Tributary Whitewater Tours also offers half day rafting trips on the Truckee River. The company said it expects all of its Truckee River trips to be on the Class 2 to 3+ Boca Run. For more information visit WhiteWaterTours.com.

Tahoe Whitewater Tours offers trips around Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Auburn. The company will have trips down the Boca Run, the Verdi Run, and also runs down the Carson River. For more information visit GoWhiteWater.com.

To book a reservation with Truckee River Rafting call (530) 583-1111 or visit TruckeeRiverRafting.com.

For reservations with Truckee River Rafting Co., visit with TahoeRaft.com or call (530) 583-0123.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com.