This photo needs editing.
Difficulty III-IV+
Length 4.3 Miles
Flow Range 600 - 5000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 226 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 04/07/2014 6:17 pm

River Description

Getting There: The take out is at Knights Ferry's Recreation Area, approximately 30 miles northeast of Modesto, CA. From this public park, drive about 2-3 miles east along Highway 120/108 to Tullock Road (a left turn). Drive another 1.6 miles to the put-in. GPS Coordinates at Google Maps. If you can see the Goodwin Dam, you've gone too far.

There is limited parking along both sides of the road. From here it is a short walk to the river.

Scouting Mr. Toad's: After turning onto Tullock Road, there is a dirt road 1.3 miles down on the left hand side. From here you can scout Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Park on the dirt road and its a short hike to the overlook. From this spot it is only another 0.3 miles to the put in.

Local Clubs:
For more information on this and other local paddling areas, please feel free to contact these local clubs:  Gold Country Paddlers.

You can get more information from California's Whitewater Community at is a website that has a lot of useful information about the river and area. They have a river map that you can print out and take with you.

There is also a write up on California Creeks.


Goodwin Dam is 80 feet high and was completed in 1913.  It is jointly owned by two irrigation districts: the South San Joaquin ID and the Oakdale ID.  Two canals lead from the dam, one on each side of the river.  SSJID supplies water to 70,000 acres of farmland in the Manteca, Escalon, Ripon area.  Oakdale ID supplies water to about 20,000 acres of farmland on either side of the Stanislaus river in the Oakdale, Riverbank area.  Both districts also supply domestic water.  They also produce electricity at their various dam projects and recently from solar projects.

Rapid Descriptions

Goodwin Dam

Class - I Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Laundry Chute

Class - III Mile - 0.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Surf City

Class - III Mile - 0.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Class - IV+ Mile - 0.6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
GPS Coordinates at Google Maps.
This is the first Class IV rapid, and it comes up fast! This rapid is a possible portage and hazard. However, if you run it correctly you'll have a ton of fun! The rock wall on river right is under cut, and the far left side of the rapid has some dangerous rocks.

This is the horizon line right before the rapid begins. Notice the rock wall on the right.

Best to start on river right in the last eddy against the larger rock. Begin this run by sliding down the tongue that is just to the left of the rock, and paddle toward the left. You will encounter two diagonal waves that you'll want to be paddling into, because they will be trying to flip you and force you into the rock wall on river right.

At the bottom, is a small hole that will also try to flip you and pull you into the right wall.

Willow Rapid

Class - III Mile - 0.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.9
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Hazardous Rapid, Portaged at most flows!
This is the only Class V-VI rapid, and its portaged at most flows. If portaged on river left, you'll have a great view of the rapid, but have to seal launch to get back in. River right would be easier to portage if you have a raft. But we'll let you decide...

Upper Pinball

Class - III+ Mile - 1.9
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Lower Pinball

Class - III+ Mile - 2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Haunted House

Class - IV+ Mile - 2.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Haunted House was tricky, it drops into a hole, and then has a very strong flow that pushes you into "The Wall of Pain."

This is "The Wall of Pain," a rock slab that everything was getting washed into. Its a tight rock crevice with strong boils and surging water levels, that made it extremely difficult to paddle out of. Only one of us was able to paddle out after putting up a strong fight.

Paul Martzen writes, “This reminds me of the time that I flipped a raft in Haunted House rapid. I came up underneath the raft and I had a moment or two of thinking I should get out from under there, until the current sucked me deep and the raft was no longer a concern. I remember being stable for a while and swimming up towards the surface, but not making any progress. It was very puzzling. I was not being tumbled or anything. I was suspended vertically. I could not see the surface, but I knew it was up. I was not swimming hard, but taking long strokes. Nothing seemed to be happening. So I thought that maybe, I should conserve oxygen and not swim at all. Worrying about oxygen always sort of detracts from these experiences. I try not to, but it seems hard to help. Any rate, swimming definitely was not helping so I stopped and just hung there, trying to think deep Zen, hibernation sorts of thoughts. I can't remember exactly what I felt as far as the current, but it seemed like I was shuffling sideways. After a little while I was shuffled sideways far enough and I felt myself rising and saw the water getting brighter. Then I allowed myself a stroke again and I surfaced without any more delays. I assume that I was floating down in the room of doom area. The current drops over a wide ledge into narrow channel between the ledge and a wall. There is no room for the current to resurface so it goes deep then moves sideways out to the main channel. I was probably floating above the main sideways flowing current at a level where my lifejacket and neoprene buoyancy were just equal to the downward flowing current. It was an interesting sensation, though I suppose, I should not recommend repeating it.”

The Narrows

Class - II Mile - 2.9
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Air Mattress

Class - III+ Mile - 3.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
The last significant rapid on the Goodwin Canyon Run.

The Shallows

Class - II+ Mile - 3.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Knights Ferry Covered Bridge

Class - Mile - 3.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
GPS Coordinates at Google Maps.

Knights Ferry Public Park

Class - Mile - 4.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
GPS Coordinates at Google Maps.
A public park that has an easy takeout on river right. There is free parking, port-a-potties, hiking trails, boat launching areas, and picnic tables. The Army Corp of Engineers also maintains a free visitor center at Knights Ferry, (209) 881-3517.


Gage Descriptions

Daily Flows Realtime Flows Dreamflows Home
Show 30 Days
Show 3 Years

There are several sources of flow information included in this section.

The graph above is from a gauge at Orange Blossom Bridge, located 7 miles below the takeout at Knights Ferry.


The highlighted numerical reading  is from a USGS gauge located 30 miles to the west of Ripon, CA. The flow is going to be about 200 cfs higher than what would be found in the Goodwin Canyon. Flows in the canyon are less than the AW-USGS gauge reading due to small seasonal side streams and irrigation run-off between the take-out and the gauges at Ripon, CA and the Orange Blossom Bridge.

Due to flow release restrictions on the Goodwin Dam just upstream, flows are seldom above 1500 cfs and are often at less than recommended flows in late summer depending on snow pack and water storage needs.


The actual release from Goodwin Dam is reported by CDEC as a daily number at GDW.



Directions Description


Date Flow Result Factor  
2002-06-30 Low Fatality One Boat Trip Read More
1998-07-25 n/a Injury Other Read More




Matt Muir


Paul Martzen


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190094 03/19/08 n/a n/a
1203242 04/07/14 Paul Martzen Goodwin Dam info