Goodwin Canyon, the section of river between Goodwin Dam and Knights Ferry, is a class IV-V stretch of river that covers 4 miles of the Stanislaus River. Popular among EXPERIENCED river rafters, this section is unsafe for the amateur water enthusiast because of the intense rapids that dot this beautiful section of river. While the section has water year round, flows below 600cfs are unsafe for all rafters, and thus trips on this section of the river are most common (and often safest) during the heavy spring flows.
The put-in for this section of river is located about half-mile below Goodwin (Tulloch) Dam, and can be reached by Tulloch Road off of Highway 120. Right off the bat there are a pair of class III rapids to get your blood pumping, and only ½ mile into the trip Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride rapid roars through the canyon. This class IV+ rapid is for advanced rafters only, and those unfamiliar with the canyon or rapid are recommended to portage to the right of the rapid. About half a mile below that is Matterhorn, a monstrous rapid that should be portaged by all rafters who raft Goodwin Canyon. This class V-VI rapid is dangerous set of whitewater rapids (and mini-waterfalls) that are potentially fatal to all but the most experienced of rafters. Portage of this rapid is highly recommended!
Goodwin Canyon continues down through a series of class II-III rapids as well as another class IV+ rapid (Haunted House) over the next 3 miles. Again, a capable crew, proper safety equipment, and a skilled guide are necessary to run this section of water. Four miles from the put-in is the take out at Knights Ferry, a historical community that is perfect for unwinding after an intense afternoon of rafting!
A map of Goodwin Canyon can be found here and although commercial trips are run, almost all of them are done so in the early spring. An additional, and in-depth, point-of-view of running these rapids can be found at http://www.awetstate.com/StanGC.html.