The outlet from Lake Tahoe at Tahoe City feeds the Truckee River. The water runs under the world famous Fanny Bridge, and heads on down past Truckee.
In good water years, the rafting companies are able to start booking raft trips in June. Their season would then run through to September.
At times, the river is simply awash with rafts, taking their time to float down to River Ranch. Along the way the scenery is simply gorgeous. There are lava outcroppings, a few places to beach the rafts and enjoy the floating circus that occurs when the river is full of rafts, pools to splash about in, and in general, a wonderful stretch of river shoreline, all the way to River Ranch.
River Ranch is the take out point. They serve a great meal, and rafters take full advantage of the good eats there. It's also a good place to dry off, as nobody makes the trip without getting wet.
The shuttle buses of the rafting companies then pick up the families, friends, tourists, and locals who have enjoyed the float down the river, and back to Tahoe City they go.
In Tahoe City, there are plenty of places to eat, a really nice art co-op that features local artists, stores of kinds, and of course, Lake Tahoe.
All in all, it is a great way to spend the day.
In low water years, everything is shortened, sometimes pretty dramatically. This is one of those years. Having to stop the raft trips in late July is a major blow to the local economy, a huge disappointment to tourists who may have booked their stay in Tahoe to coincide with the rafting season, and to all the young people who work the many jobs associated with the rafting business.
The river has to have enough water running in it to carry the rafts down the river. While the rafts don't actually need a lot of water under them, there are sand bars, tree roots, branches, rocks and other assorted river obstacles that they need to go over.
When the flow from Tahoe is curtailed, there isn't enough depth or enough of flow for the rafts to make the trip. While there is still a long list of things to do around Tahoe City, rafting will have to wait till next year. Sad, but true.