Updated: March 24, 2006
Rafting the Kaweah River
The mighty Kaweah River begins among the 13,000 foot peaks of Kings and Sequoia National Parks. Immediately after the main river leaves Sequoia National Park it enters the beautiful Kaweah Valley with continuous Class IV whitewater. This run has many challenging boulder gardens that make it the most continuous Class IV rafting run in California. Spectacular snow-capped peaks are visible from the river in the spring.
The trick with this section of the Kaweah is putting your boats in the river and parking. The original put-in at the Gateway Bridge is now closed for parking and river access. Rafting companies own patches of land that they use to put-in, but the private boater will have to use her or his negotiation and logistics skills to find a suitable spot.
The six miles from the confluence with the east fork to the town of Three Rivers is the most challenging section. The nearly continuous rapids include the major Class III to IV+ drops Willows, Bumper, Powerhouse, Cyanotic, Screaming Right Hand Turn, Elowin, Dinley, Stony Broke, Dislocation, Suicide Falls, The Chair, Upper Slicky, and Lower Slicky. At higher flows, Lower Slicky is considered a Class V rapid due to a keeper hole at the bottom. From Three Rivers to the reservoir the river is Class II with the occasional Class III.
If you're interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out cacreeks's Kaweah River description. A group of local Kaweah paddlers also keep an up to date Kaweah River Page with great information and pictures.
To reach Terminus Reservoir (take-out): Get yourself to the lovely central valley metropolis of Visalia on Highway 99. In Visalia get on Highway 198 and drive east past Lake Kaweah. You can leave your car where the Kaweah River reaches the reservoir. You can take-out at many other places along Highway 198 in order to shorten the run. Many paddlers will take-out in the town of Three Rivers which shortens the run to six miles and saves them from paddling four miles of Class II and III.
To reach a spot to put your raft in the river (put-in): Drive up Highway 198 to any place that seems suitable to put-in. It's always a hassle to find a good put-in, but most folks will find river access near the confluence of the East Fork Kaweah with the Main Kaweah.
Kaweah White Water Adventures
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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