Rafting the Lower Klamath River

Difficulty: Class III (one IV)
Length: 37.5 miles
Flows: 1500 cfs – 15,000 cfs
Gradient: 17 ft/mi
Put-in: Happy Camp
Take-out: Green Riffle
Season: Year Around

The Lower Klamath flows freely from the Iron Gate Dam all the way to the ocean and is entirely runnable except for the Class VI rapid Ishi Pishi Falls. The most commonly rafted section begins in the town of Happy Camp and ends at Green Riffle just above Ishi Pishi Falls. The Lower Klamath is a dependable beginner run for overnight trips that is followed fairly closely by California State Highway 96. The Highway is hardly noticeable which provides the comfort of civilization with the feeling of wilderness.

There are many river access points above Happy Camp and along the length of this run, so a rafting trip down the Klamath River could take anywhere from one to six days. The section of river from Happy Camp to Green Riffle makes a wonderful three day Class III run with great rapids and some good side hikes.

Most trips on the Klamath should start with a hearty breakfast at one of the local cafes in Happy Camp. There are some especially interesting characters in town and you’ll be especially lucky if you run into the local tow truck driver (and chainsaw repairman) Wayne. The Happy Camp put-in is always a social place to hang out with a cup of joe in one hand and a raft pump in the other.

Exploring the nearby areas too brings lot of fun.  While you indulge in this fun, you can still do online trading of digital currencies, if you opt for automated option in trading software.  Read more about this option to understand how it works and what benefits it brings you. Back to rafting,On the river past Happy Camp you’ll float past Elk Creek on the left and soon enjoy some quality Class II and III rapids starting with Rattlesnake. This is a big Class III rapid that is typically scouted on the left. Below Rattlesnake are the Class III rapids Devil’s Toenail, Mixmaster, Funnel, and Trench Rapids.

Below these fun rapids are about ten miles of straightforward Class II and III drops with many creeks entering the river. One of the most beautiful is Clear Creek which enters the Klamath from river right. In the spring, Clear Creek makes a great Class III raft run through a beautiful gorge. The land below here is sacred to the Karok Indians and should not be used for scouting or hiking.

Four miles past Clear Creek is a bridge across the river and below it is Independence Creek which enters on the left. Below the bridge, the road is high above the river and there are some great campsites.

The highlight of a Klamath trip usually comes on the second day with the Class IV- rapid Dragon’s Tooth. This is a constricted rapid with large boulders (one of them is the famous tooth) and several options. There are many ways to wrap or flip a boat if you aren’t up for the challenge so take this one seriously. Most boaters will scout the rapid from the right side of the river.

A couple miles past Dragon’s Tooth, Ukonom Creek enters the mighty Klamath on the left side. There is a trail that leads up the creek to a beautiful waterfall (Ukonom Falls) and swimming spot that should be a mandatory stop for every trip.

Below here are several beautiful miles of river with fun rapids including the Class II+ Blue Swillup Rapid. River access and campsites become more common as the canyon opens up. Most of the rapids are of the Class II flavor formed by gravel bars.

The last possible take-out before the Class VI drop Ishi Pishi Falls is at Green Riffle river access. Ishi Pishi Falls is a long and complex rapid that has been successfully run at lower flows. Portaging would be an arduous endeavor so most trips end at Green Riffle or begin just below Ishi Pishi Falls.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out Creekin’s Lower Klamath below Happy Camp description.

Directions

To the hamlet of Happy Camp (put-in): Getting yourself to the Klamath is fairly straightforward. If you’re coming from California hop on Interstate 5 and head north to Yreka. About eight miles north of Yreka hang a left (west) on Highway 96. Getting on Highway 96 can sometimes be confusing, so fill up your gas tank in Yreka and ask where Highway 96 is just to be safe. You’ll follow Highway 96 along the Klamath for an hour or so before you reach the hamlet of Happy Camp. The normal put-in is just past town on the left. There is an alternate put-in at Curley Jack campground that can be reached by crossing a bridge across the Klamath in town and looking to your right.

Pay attention to gas since there is no gas available at Happy Camp unless you purchase it with a credit card at an automated pump. The closest service station is at Seiad Valley to the east and Orleans to the west. There is no gas at Somes Bar.

To a take-out on the Klamath: Basically get yourself back on Highway 96 and head down the river (west). There are many places that you can choose to take-out which will vary the length of your trip. Green Riffle is the last one before the gnarly Class VI rapid Ishi Pishi Falls.

Outfitters

All Outdoors

ARTA Whitewater Rafting

O.A.R.S., Inc.

Outdoor Adventures, UC Davis

Redwoods & Rivers

Rogue Klamath River Adventures

River Dancers

Tributary Whitewater Tours

Trinity River Rafting

Turtle River

WET River Trips

Whitewater Voyages

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Forks of the Kern

Difficulty: Class IV+ – V
Length: 14.5 miles
Flows: 1000 cfs – 3000 cfs
Gradient: 65 ft/mi
Put-in: Little Kern Confluence (Forks)
Take-out: Johnsondale Bridge
Season: Spring Runoff

The Forks of the Kern is without a doubt the best overnight rafting trip in the state of California due to its combination of great rapids and excellent scenery. A “Forks” trip begins in the Golden Trout Wilderness and travels along the beautiful Dome Land Wilderness. This is a unique trip due to the high sierra granite scenery and lush pine forests. Unfortunately, most rafters avoid this amazing run due to the two mile hike required to reach put in, undependable flows, and the necessary river permit.

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River permits are required for all trips on the Forks of the Kern and limit trip size to 15. Permits for the busy season (May 15 to September 15) are offered through a lottery system. Complete information can be found on the Forest Service Forks of the Kern River Permit page.

You’ll put in on the North Fork of the Kern just past its confluence with the Little Kern. This is referred to as “the Forks.” Most trips will hire pack mules to carry their equipment down to the river. Contact Golden Trout Wilderness Pack Trains at (209) 539-2744 or (209) 542-2816 for mules and a wrangler.

Once on the river you’ll find countless unnamed Class IV rapids scattered in between the larger Class IV+ and V drops. The first big Class IV+ rapids are Upper Freeman Creek Falls, Lower Freeman Creek Falls, Wrapid, Needlerock Falls, and Slalom which occur during the first half of the trip.

Below here is a short break from the action with several good campsites and the Class IV+ rapids Little Bean and Big Bean. You’ll also pass by Durrwood Lodge which makes a nice stop. Please be sure to ask permission from the caretaker before poking around. Below here is Peppermint Falls which should be a mandatory stop for a side hike to a breath taking waterfall. The last good campground is on the right in between the rapids Little Bean and Big Bean.

Your first big test of the trip is Vortex, a Class V rapid that should be portaged below 1300 cfs when there is no good clear line. The center slot of the rapid is a big drop into a “flat reversal” that is usually avoided. Immediately following Vortex is the Gauntlet, a long, continuous rapid. The next few miles bring the Class IV+ rapids Four Mile, Rincon, Metamorphosis, and Basalt as well as the long Class V rapid Westwall.

About half of a mile past Westwall, look for Dry Meadow Creek cascading in on the right. This is a great place to stop for some lunch and recreation. If you’re adventurous you’ll want to try the water slide that ends by throwing your body into the air and eventually the river. Hikers and kayakers will want to make their way up granite slabs to check out the famous teacups. These are seven distinct runnable (and photogenic) waterfalls that end in granite bowls. The eighth is a sixty foot drop onto rocks.

After Dry Meadow Creek you’ll enjoy the Class IV+ rapid Respect followed by the Class V rapid Carson Falls which is the biggest rapid on the river. Carson falls is an eight foot vertical drop into an interesting hole. There are some dangerous sieves and rocks here so be careful.

After Carson Falls, it’s a quick float to the Johnsondale Bridge where you get to carry your boats up a hill and enjoy a cold celebration beverage. If you’re not too keen on carrying boats uphill you can float down two more miles of Class IV rapids to an easier take out at Fairview Dam.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out Creekin’s Forks of the Kern description.

Directions

To reach Johnsondale Bridge (take-out): Get yourself to the lovely town of Bakersfield on Highway 99 in the Central Valley. In Bakersfield look for Highway 178 and take that up the Lower Kern River canyon to the town of Lake Isabella. From Lake Isabella you want to get yourself to Kernville by taking California 155 to Wofford Heights and hanging a right onto Burlando Road. Drive through the beautiful town of Kernville (stopping at “the Hut” is a favorite pastime) and take a left on Sierra Way (Mountain Road 99). You’ll follow this along the Upper Kern to Johnsondale Bridge.

To reach the “the Forks” (put-in): From the Johnsondale Bridge head north on Mountain Road 99 to the town of Johnsondale where you should hang right on a paved road headed towards Lloyds Meadow. After about 15 miles hang a right on a dirt road with a sign that reads “Forks of the Kern 4.” You’ll drive two miles on this road to a parking lot where you should put on your hiking boots. It’s a pleasant two mile hike down to the river on a well maintained trail.

Outfitters

Kern River Outfitters

Kern River Tours

Outdoor Adventures

Sequoia Outdoor Center

Whitewater Voyage

 

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Rafting the American River

The American River is a magical place for people that enjoy rivers and rafting in California. Most new rafters learn to boat on the Class III rapids of the South Fork of the American and eventually learn the necessary skills to boat either the Class IV Middle Fork American or Class IV+ North Fork American. The proximity of the American River to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area make it a local meeting place for boaters of the region. An alternate rafting area comparable to American River rafting are the rivers near Yosemite.

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Featured Outfitter

W.E.T. River Trips runs California rafting with family, corporate, teen, and spring break trips on the American River all spring and summer since 1978.

Rafting the South Fork Class 3 – 3+

The South Fork of the American River begins near the South Shore of Lake Tahoe and flows along Highway 50. After the beautiful granite wall, Lover’s Leap, it enters a steep gorge that is an experts only Class V kayak run. Once it passes the lovely town of Kyburz, expert rafters have been known to enjoy fourteen miles of Class IV and V rapids as the river follows Highway 50.

The river breaks away from the Highway and enters what is know as the “Golden Gate” run of the South Fork American. This is an incredibly difficult Class V+ run that has been traveled only a few times in rafts by expert teams of river guides. The end of the “Golden Gate” run is at the Slab Creek Reservoir which diverts water from the river.

During high periods of rain or heavy snow melt, Slab Creek Reservoir spills and the “Slab Creek” run of the South Fork makes for some steep Class V. This run ends at White Rock Powerhouse just above Chili Bar.

Below Chili bar is the 21 mile section of the South Fork that is known and loved by all California River Rafters. This section is normally Class III to III+ and at high water it is Class III to IV-.

Rafting the Middle Fork Class 3 – 4+

The Middle Fork American River drains the west side of Lake Tahoe as both the Middle Fork of the American and the Rubicon River. These upper reaches of the Middle Fork are too steep and inaccessible for rafting.

The most commonly rafted section of the river occurs below Oxbow Reservoir on the section of the Middle Fork American that includes the famous Tunnel Chute rapid. Most rafters that do this section take-out below Ruck-A-Chucky, the Class VI portage, at Driver’s Flat Road. This section of river has Class II to IV+ rapids.

Below Driver’s Flat are some Class II and III rapids as well as the Class V Murderer’s Bar Rapid. The Middle Fork meets the North Fork at Highway 49 near Auburn.

Rafting the North Fork Class 4 – 4+

The North Fork of the American River is considered by many as the most beautiful river in the world. The North Fork begins near Squaw Valley Ski Resort and flows through the majestic Royal Gorge which has been paddled by only a handful of expert kayakers.

The take-out for for the upper section called Giant Gap is at Iowa Hill Bridge, the put-in for the wildly popular Chamberlain Falls . Winter rains and spring snow melt bring the river up to runnable levels and allow advanced rafters to enjoy this run. This popular section of river is Class IV to IV+.

Five miles below Iowa Hills Bridge is Yankee Jims, which is an access for rafters looking for a Class III experience.

Below Royal Gorge, a few rafters have made the journey down the famous Generation Gap, a 12 mile Class V wilderness run. This run is rarely done by rafters due to the strenuous three mile hike to put-in. More rafters have made the two mile hike into the Giant Gap run which is just below Generation Gap. Giant Gap is an amazing 15 mile Class V run through a deep gorge.

The North Fork of the American flows freely all the way to Lake Clementine which is the only dam on the river. A few miles past Lake Clementine, the Middle Fork of the American joins the North Fork before its final plunge past the Auburn Dam site to Folsom Lake.

Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Rafting the Scott River

Difficulty: Class V
Length: 10.2 miles
Flows: 1000 cfs – 3000 cfs
Gradient: 58 ft/mi
Put-in: Indian Scotty Campground
Take-out: Above Scott Bar Bridge
Season: March – June

The Scott River is a nice Class V run that is usually done by experts in conjunction with the Cal Salmon. The Scott begins in the spectacular Marble Mountains and flows through the Scott Valley before dropping into a forested canyon full of rapids.

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Below Canyon Creek Rapid, the river has fairly continuous Class IV action with the occasional Class V rapid. The biggest rapid on the Scott River is the Class V White House which comes just past Middle Creek. Other Class V rapids are Tompkins Creek Rapid andSchuler Gulch.

Take-out is on river right above the Scott Bar Bridge. Some trips put-in here to enjoy three miles of Class II and III rapids down to confluence between the Scott and Klamath Rivers.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out Creekin’s Scott River description.

Directions

To Scott Bar Bridge (take-out): If you’re coming from Sacramento take Interstate 5 north and exit in Yreka. While you’re filling up your gas tank, ask the gas attendant how to get yourself onto Highway 96. You’ll drive eight miles north of Yreka and head west on Highway 96. Then you’ll drive about 35 miles along the Klamath River before you cross the Scott River. Hang a left on Scott River Road and drive up the canyon to the Scott Bar Bridge.

To reach Indian Scotty Campground: Keep driving up Scott River Road until you see Indian Scotty Campground. If you find yourself in the Scott Valley, you’ve gone too far.

Outfitters

Redwoods & Rivers

River Dancers

Rogue Klamath River Adventures

Tributary Whitewater Tours

Turtle River

WET River Trips

Wilderness Adventures

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Kayaking Information

There are many great kayaking web sites that provide information about rivers and equipment, chat boards for discussion, and a plethora of pictures. Most of the information on this site, as far as run descriptions and trip logistics are concerned, is also applicable to kayakers. But if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, check out some websites targeted specifically at kayakers.

Kayaker on the South Fork of the Tuolumne in CaliforniaThe best kayaking sites in California are Boof and California CAcreeks. The Boof site specializes in the rivers of the Sierra Nevada and has a well-used chat board, tons of pictures, and links for gear. While you are going through the information about kayaking in various websites, you can also take a look at online trading of virtual currencies. More info about the workings of the automated trading software and it is reviews can be learnt in websites.  Now getting back to the kayaking adventure, California CAcreeks has mile by mile descriptions of over 150 different whitewater runs in the state. The sheer number and quality of pictures makes this an invaluable resource for boaters.

There are numerous smaller groups of kayakers that keep up-to-date web sites with information about their trips. Kev’s Mom is a wacky site that has some good information about kayaking including pictures, stories, and a discussion board. Another classic site with a similar feel is CA-Chunk.

There are several great web sites with information about the sport of kayaking in general. Among the best is Wetdawg Kayaking which has a great chat board as well as many pictures and stories. The greatest part about Wetdawg is the up to date kayaking news and gear reviews. The other classic site is Boater Talk which has an amazing following of paddlers that discuss the sport of kayaking.

Both beginning and advanced kayakers that need kayak instruction should check out Current Adventures which offers beginning classes on the American River as well as advanced classes around the world. River Dancers also runs great kayak instruction courses on several rivers in California.

In addition, many kayakers have posted great kayaking information on the web. Among the best of these pages are Craig’s Wildwater Pages which includes a variety of information about rivers and geology.

If you are a woman looking to learn how to kayak, check out Anna Levesque’s, Girls at Play, a great program run by women, taught by women, for women. She also makes excellent instructional kayaking videos. Anna’s Kayaking trips are run through Esprit Rafting Worldwide, a company based in Canada that runs trips all over the world.

Sea Kayaking

Since 1993, Sea Kayak Adventures has operated sea kayak tours to the premier whale watching destinations, sea kayaking in Baja, Mexico during the winter and kayaking British Columbia, Canada during the summer months. Their camping and lodge-based sea kayaking trips feature close encounters with wildlife, extraordinary wilderness areas and incredible cuisine. No prior experience is necessary and they provide all the equipment needed.

UCLA Outdoor offers guided trips to the Channel Islands and along the Pacific Coast near Malibu and Newport as well as sea kayaking lessons at the Marina Aquatics Center to UCLA students and the surrounding community.

Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Wilderness First Responder and Swift Water Rescue

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Many people choose to raft with a commercial outfitter because they require their guides to have at least basic first aid, CPR, and Swift Water Rescue certifications. Some river guides even have EMT, Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certifications.

Raft wrapped at Blossom Bar on the RogueOften on the river, even with satellite phones available, hospitals and ambulances are several hours away. That is why one of the most important things on a river trip is having at least one person who is knowledgeable and experienced in Swift Water Rescue and Wilderness First Aid. There are a number of organizations that offer these courses, and if you are planning to do any private boating, it is highly recommended that you get certified first.

Wilderness First Aid Courses

Wilderness First Responder TrainingWilderness First Aid (WAFA) and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) are 40 and 80 hour courses, respectively, that teach you how to handle emergency situations in remote wilderness settings. They cover everything from hypothermia to making stretchers and splits out of whatever equipment you have available. These courses combine classroom lectures with hands-on scenario experience to make them very fun and extremely educational. They also include a 2 year CPR Certification.

Adventure Risk Management

Wilderness Medical

Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS

Wilderness Medicine Outfitters

Wilderness Outings

Swift Water Rescue Courses

Swift Water Rescue (SWRT) courses vary in their focus depending on whether they are designed for firefighters or river professionals. In additional to general swift water rescue skills, the courses for firefighters teach how to rescue people out of drainage systems in flood conditions, while river professional courses teach how to unwrap boats and deal with boat flips, “carnage,” and z-rigs.

American Canoe Association

Expediciones Chile USA

Raven Rescue

Rescue 3 International

Wilderness Outings

Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Yosemite Rafting

Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular destinations in the world for active travelers, and many groups attempt to include a whitewater rafting trip along with their visit to the park. Both the Tuolumne River and the Merced River originate within the park on the highest peak in Yosemite, Mount Lyell. They are both easily accessible to Yosemite visitors since the meeting places for the respective rafting trips are along the major roads that lead into Yosemite National Park: Highway 120 and Highway 140.

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The Mighty Merced River

The Merced River tumbles off the slopes of Mount Lyell down Nevada and Vernal Falls before meandering through Yosemite Valley. Rafting the flat water section of the Merced River through the valley is not permitted. After leaving the valley floor, the Merced River drops over a series of un runnable Class VI rapids before crossing the park boundary and entering a typical Sierra Nevada river canyon.

Corner Pocket Rapid on the Merced RiverThe whitewater stretch of the Merced begins just past El Portal and runs almost 30 miles to Lake McClure. Along they way are many fun Class III rapids as well as six classic Class IV rapids. Rafting trips on the Merced River can vary from Class II to Class IV depending on the section of river that you choose and the current flow of the river.

There are no dams above this section of river that impede the flow so the river flows naturally. This means that the water in the river comes from immediate rain and snow melt. During a typical California spring the Merced can be run from mid-April to mid-June. This changes each year depending on snow pack and weather. In bad water years the Merced will at least have dependable flows in May. In good years the Merced River has been known to flow through July.

The Merced River can be accessed by California Highway 140 on your way into or out of Yosemite National Park. Highway 140 follows Merced River so there are many different places to access the river.

The Mighty Tuolumne River

The Tuolumne River originates from the Lyell Glacier on the north side of Mount Lyell. It flows peacefully through Tuolumne Meadows before entering the steep Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. After flowing through the Grand Canyon, the river is impounded by O’Shaugnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Below Hetch Hetchy, the river flows through a steep walled gorge before it’s confluence with Cherry Creek and the beginning of runnable whitewater.

The Cherry Creek run of the Main Tuolumne is for active people looking to push the envelopes of Class V paddling. This is definitely the most difficult section of commercially run whitewater in the United States and is among the most difficult in the world. This section of river is for people that have rafted several times before and enjoy rafting big drops and Class V.

Clavey Falls on the Tuolumne RiverBelow the Cherry Creek run is the famous Main Tuolumne which begins at Merals Pool. This rafting trip is a two or three day adventure through a deep canyon full of fun Class IV rapids. This section of river is famous for its classic rapids and amazing side hikes up the free flowing Clavey River and the North Fork of the Tuolumne. This trip ends on Don Pedro Reservoir.

Since the Tuolumne River has dams that control the flow of the river, it can typically be run from April to early September. The best time to run the river is April through June when the water is big, the canyon is green, and the wildflowers are abundant. Once the snow melt ends, the water for the river comes from scheduled powerhouse releases. There is typically no water released on sundays, so plan your trip accordingly.

All commercial trips and most private trips meet at the La Casa Loma River Store on Highway 120 six miles east of Groveland. Only 52 commercial passengers in two groups are allowed each day so the river is never crowded. It is not uncommon to run the entire river for two days and not see another rafting group.

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Rafting the Upper Kern River

Difficulty: Class III
Length: 2 miles
Flows: 600 cfs – 6000 cfs
Gradient: 30 ft/mi
Put-in: below Kern Powerhouse
Take-out: Riverside Park
Season: April to July

The North fork of the Kern, referred to as the “upper,” consists of an irrigated river bed broken up by a series of dams and powerhouses. Rafters break the river into six distinct sections for a total of 19 miles of varied whitewater.

Of these six sections, the most commonly run is the Class III Powerhouse Run above Kernville. Its popularity is due to its long season, easy shuttle, and fun rapids. Many commercial companies raft this stretch of whitewater several times each day. Additionally, Los Angeles boaters often frequent this section of river in the spring and early summer for a change of pace from the Lower Kern River.

The Powerhouse Run consists of fun Class II rapids as well as the Class III rapids Big Daddy and Ewing’s. The take out is just below the Highway 155 bridge at Riverside Park. The riverbed has been changed at Riverside Park to create some fun river features for paddlers to enjoy. Intrepid paddlers can continue down river from here all the way to Lake Isabella to add some brushy Class II river action to their trip.

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Riverside Park is the home of the annual Kern River Festival held in April. Events typically include a kayak rodeo, raft race, and kayak race. This is one of the first whitewater festivals of the river season and is usually well attended!

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out cacreeks’s Upper Kern at Kernville description.

Directions

To Riverside Park (take-out): Get yourself to Bakersfield on Highway 99. Look for Highway 178 in Bakersfield and head east up the Kern River Canyon. When you reach Lake Isabella take a right (north) on Highway 155 and head to Kernville. As you drive into Kernville, take your first right into Riverside Park.

To Powerhouse #3 (put-in): Get back onto Highway 155 and head through Kernville. After crossing a bridge over the Kern, hang a left on Sierra Way at the first stop sign. You’ll drive a mile and a half before taking a left turn to the powerhouse where you can park.

Outfitters

Kern River Outfitters

Kern River Tours

Mountain and River Adventures

Whitewater Voyages

Add an Outfitter Link

 

Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Tuolumne River Rafting

Difficulty: Class IV – V
Length: 18.6 miles
Flows: 1000 cfs – 8000 cfs
Gradient: 35 ft/mi
Put-in: Merals Pool
Take-out: Don Pedro Reservoir

The Tuolumne river is one of the best overnight rafting runs in California if not the world. It is best known for its numerous and exciting Class IV rapids in an amazing “Wild and Scenic” river canyon.

Every Tuolumne trip starts with a burly six mile drive down Lumsden Road where you will enjoy views of the canyon along the descent. Most trips start at Meral’s Pool at a Forest Service River access. By driving two miles up the road you can put in at Lumsden Bridge and add two miles of Class IV rapids to your trip. You’ll also get to check out Lumsden Falls, a true Class VI rapid.

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Featured Outfitter

Sierra Mac is a pioneer on the Tuolumne River for over 35 years.

Just below Merals Pool is Rock Garden Rapid which is a very technical challenge at low water (1000 cfs), a fun jaunt down the right at medium water (2000 – 6000 cfs), and a maelstrom of big frothy waves and holes at high water (6000+ cfs).

Camping on the Tuolumne River in CaliforniaBelow Rock Garden are the Class IV rapids Nemesis, Sunderland’s Chute, Hackamack Hole, Ram’s Head, India, and Phil’s Folly. These rapids are followed by several great lunch spots and a break from the action. The action picks up again with Zach’s Falls, Stern, Evangelist, and Airborne before the real test of the trip: Clavey Falls. Many trips will camp at one of the two campsites above the falls so that they can enjoy swimming in the famous Clavey River.

There are several excellent campsites below Clavey Falls across from Grapevine and Indian Creeks. If you are a private boater, don’t let the commercial guides talk you out of the great camp across from Grapevine Creek. Two miles past Clavey Falls is the best rapid on the trip: Grey’s Grindstone. This rapid is almost a mile long and is truly an amazing rapid at all water levels. Be careful on the right side at high water because there is a big hole. Flipping a boat here at high water usually results in a long swim.

The trip ends with Surf City, Steamboat, Cabin, and Hell’s Kitchen. If you have time, take a 45 minute hike up the North Fork of the Tuolumne to Devil’s Gate. This swimming hole has a natural waterside, jumping rocks, and great places to lay out and work on your tan.

Your wilderness adventure will end on Don Pedro Reservoir where you will hopefully be towed across the lake and experience culture shock at the Ward’s Ferry Bridge.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out cacreeks’s Tuolumne River description.

For more information about boating the “T,” go to allaboutrivers directory.

Directions

Get yourself on to Highway 99 and head towards Manteca. In Manteca go East on Highway 120 through Oakdale. Highway 120 takes some unusual turns on its course, so pay close attention.

If you’re leaving a car a take-out, you should take a left on Ward’s Ferry Road in Big Oak Flat and follow it down to the take-out at Ward’s Ferry Bridge.

To get to put in, get yourself back to Highway 120 and go six miles past the town of Groveland to the La Casa Loma River store on the left across from a large meadow. Take a left on Ferretti Road and visit the La Casa Loma River store for a Latte and last minute river gear.

When you’re ready to go, get back on Ferretti Road and drive about two miles until you see a “Tuolumne River” sign on the right. Take a right down the unpaved road for six miles until you’re at the river. This is Meral’s Pool. You can drive two miles up the road and put in at Lumsden Bridge if you want to add some extra river miles (and rapids) to your trip.

If you are a private boater, you should call Tuolumne River shuttles at (209) 962-4662 for a shuttle to make your experience more enjoyable.

Outfitters

All-Outdoors

ARTA River Trips

OARS

Sierra Mac

Zephyr Whitewater

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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Rafting Trips on Cache Creek

Cache Creek is perfect for novices that don’t want supervision or people that want to learn how to guide. There are two main sections of Cache Creek and both are Class II and fun. There are several outfits that will rent you a raft, life vests, and do your shuttle which makes a day trip easy.

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Difficulty: Class II+ (one III+)
Length:
Flows: 500 cfs – 3000cfs
Gradient: 25 ft/mi
Put-in: Confluence with Bear Creek
Take-out: Green Riffle
Season: Year Around

Lower Cache Creek: Most people run Cache Creek below it’s confluence with Bear Creek along Highway 16.There is a nice turnout just below the Bear Creek confluence.

This run has many fun Class II rapids and you’ll run some great ones right away. The geology of the area is interesting and numerous campsites on river left add to the entertainment value in the summer months. You’ll definitely want to keep on your toes because there is a low water bridge that is a mandatory portage 2.7 miles below the confluenc of Cache Creek and Bear Creek. Just beyond the portage is a tricky rapid “Widowmaker” followed by several miles of fun Class II.

The biggest challenge of the trip comes just below a Highway 16 bridge, the class III+ Mother. This challenging rapid deserves a scout by all but the bravest boaters. You can scout on the left. After Rowboat, there are several miles of Class II before you make it to take out.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out cacreeks’s Cache Creek description.

Outfitters

Whitewater Adventures

Cache Canyon Whitewater River Trips

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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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