Get yourself an innertube, grab an old lawnchair, or better yet get your group hooked up with Granlibakken’s Sales Department and float the Truckee in style…
The Truckee River has been a harbinger of good things ever since people started liking lots of snow. When flowing high it proves that we recently had a great winter. All that runoff from mighty Lake Tahoe has to flow through Tahoe City’s ‘Fanny Bridge’ and the dam right above it. So that means that the water from the Jewell of the Sierra is carried solely by the Truckee River. Though ‘The Truckee’ has some exciting rapids as it parallels Rte. 80 through the canyon just before Reno, the portion of the river up our way is much more mellow. The main rafting excitement comes from being unprepared – mentally and/or gear-wise – for the low-grade rapids between Tahoe City and Alpine Meadows.
“Oh my gosh, honey – I’m in a tree!” It was my mother-in-law laughing and screaming at me as I lazily sipped on a deliciously cold Budweiser in the rear our raft. I was the guy in charge of steering this blue marshmallow and was asleep at the wheel. We slowly spun and scraped along some willow bushes before heading backwards down the rapids. You see, that’s what happens on the Truckee. You enter a state of mind wished for in those Corona ads; a state of mind which you usually have to fly halfway across the globe, or at least out of the US, to find. Only problem I had on this particular day was the m-i-l who was getting tenderized and letting me know about it! In classic Truckee fashion, the raft corrected itself from the bushes (and her butt) and we safely made it down the bumpy little rapids.
The river snakes its way five miles through an absolutely gorgeous valley with huge ridges all along both sides. Fields of cattails lead to wide areas of marsh grass. Other sections have sandy-beach islands with cut-throughs where you can try to make your way down the side less-travelled. Deep pools make your raft a diving board and other spots can transform it into a slip’n’slide if you flip it over. Tahoe’s famous clarity makes the river an awesome place to spot rainbow trout which are also closely watched by osprey and bald eagles high above (mergansers get a good look at them, too, as they dive for edibles below the surface). Along the banks you’ll also find conveniences like port-o-potties and trash cans, sometimes there’s an ice cream cart, and at the end is the well-known River Ranch with delicious grill food, punch and anything else you could want.
I’ve seen people float the river on non-buoyant lawn chairs. I’ve seen people in full wetsuits in November. I’ve even seen paddleboarders out there – going upstream. But the easiest way to ‘do’ the river is sign up with the Truckee River Raft Co. (530-583-0123) or with Mountain Air Sports (530-583-RAFT).
If you book it for your group with Granlibakken you’ll be on board one of Truckee River Rafting’s boats and have a catered lunch for you right on the riverbank if you like. Nobody else can offer this – Granlibakken’s property runs almost to the river itself so you get hooked up! Just ask your group sales contact or call the front desk in advance.
And don’t forget, Granlibakken has a room special going for Labor Day, Veteran’s Day (Nov.11), and Thanksgiving: Stay Two Nights and Get the Third Free!
Also, for Labor Day there is a free concert on Tahoe City’s Commons Beach with Marcia Ball and the Blues Monsters. Granlibakken will provide Picnic Box lunches for guests who sign up to go.
© 2009 Alex West (incl. all photos)