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Sierra Nevada Whitewater Rafting

Sierra Nevada Whitewater Rafting Overview

High Sierra

The California High Sierras have several whitewater rafting rivers and plenty of professional guide services to make your experience memorable. From the class V+ Cherry Creek, which is considered one of the most technical stretches of river rafting in the country, to the Merced that pours down from Yosemite's high country, California has a whitewater rafting tour for any skill level. Navigate glacial-carved granite canyons or high sierra passages and it all depends on which waterway you choose. Some portions of High Sierra rivers can even be navigated by canoe.

Sierra Nevada

Truckee whitewater rafting is a short stretch of river located in North Lake Tahoe. Five+ miles of class 2 and 3 river rafting and finishes off with a mile of class 3+ whitewater rapids. This is a short stretch that can be accomplished in half a day. The Truckee can be crowded with tourists from Tahoe. Raft rentals are also available for a separate 3-mile, mellow stretch of the Truckee.

CLASS: Class II-III+
DISTANCE: 10 miles
SEASON: June - September
LOCATION: North of Lake Tahoe in Truckee

OUTFITTERS:
Truckee River Rafting
Truckee River Raft Company
Tahoe Whitewater Tours
Tributary Whitewater Tours

Map  |   Hotel  |   Other Ideas


Carson whitewater rafting has an active, fast moving flow that's fun for families and inexperienced runners. The upper portions of the Carson offer class 3 whitewater rapids and mellow slightly to class 2 in the lower 20-miles. Grover Hot Springs State Park is nearby and offers large pools of warm, natural spring water. Camping options are abundant in this lesser-traveled portion of the state - Not for lack of beauty, that's for sure.

CLASS: Class II-III
DISTANCE: 30 miles
SEASON: April - July
LOCATION: South of Lake Tahoe in Sorensens

OUTFITTERS:
Tahoe Whitewater Tours
Tributary Whitewater Tours
American River Recreation

Map  |   Hotel  |   Other Ideas


Tuolumne whitewater rafting offers class 4 and 5 rapids for the experience river runners only. A start from Lumsden Bridge awards 2-miles of class 4 whitewater rapids and a nice waterfall before the class 5's start at Meral's Pool. After that you'll encounter boulder dodging, big waves, holes and more waterfalls. There are plenty of camping and picnicking options along the way. A short hike from Devil's Gate rewards a natural water slide and swimming hole with cliff diving.

CLASS: Class IV-V
DISTANCE: 20 miles
SEASON: April - June
LOCATION: East of Modesto

OUTFITTERS:
Adventure Connection
Arta River Trips
Oars
Whitewater Voyages
Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions
Mariah Wilderness Expeditions
All Outdoors
Sierra Mac

Map  |   Hotel  |   Other Ideas


Cherry Creek whitewater rafting is possibly the most technical stretch of water in the entire U.S. The creek runs into the Upper Tuolumne at a higher elevation than the typical start of Tuolumne river rafting. Water released from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir supplies the Bay Area with drinking water and river runners with a challenging test that only the best can overcome. A plethora of class 5 whitewater rapids combine with drops up to 10-feet. The rapids have fitting names like Corkscrew, Blind Faith, Coffin and Lewis's Leap. The take-out is at Meral's Pool where most commercial rafting companies put-in.

CLASS: Class V+
DISTANCE: 10 miles
SEASON: April - June
LOCATION: East of Modesto

OUTFITTERS:
Whitewater Voyages
Mariah Wilderness Expeditions
All Outdoors
Sierra Mac

Map  |   Hotel  |   Other Ideas


Merced whitewater rafting flows from the high altitude mountains in Yosemite National Park providing solid class 4 river rafting in the Merced below. Toward the end of season, Briceburg replaces Red Bud as a put-in. One of the best whitewater rapids on the Merced follows Briceburg. There are plenty of camping options along the way as well as at the large, McClure Reservoir finale.

CLASS: Class III-IV
DISTANCE: 30 miles
SEASON: April - June
LOCATION: Northeast of Merced

OUTFITTERS:
Oars
American River Recreation
Arta River Trips
Whitewater Voyages
Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions
Mariah Wilderness Expeditions
All Outdoors
Whitewater Excitement

Map  |   Hotel  |   Other Ideas


Kings whitewater rafting flows down big and easy from some of California's highest elevations. Kings runs through Kings Canyon National Park with solid class 3 river rafting for beginners and the experienced alike. Plenty of campgrounds, access points, shuttles and high sierra beauty make this a favorite for many.

CLASS: Class III
DISTANCE: 10 miles
SEASON: April - July
LOCATION: East of Fresno

OUTFITTERS:
Whitewater Voyages
Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions
Mariah Wilderness Expeditions
Kings River Expeditions

Map  |   Hotel  |   Other Ideas


Kaweah whitewater rafting flows down from some of California's highest elevations. The Kaweah runs through Sequoia National Park with solid class 4 boulder dodging for the more experienced in the first few miles. After the merge with the East Fork Kaweah, several drops and a keeper hole are located in a long stretch of whitewater rapids. The final few miles mellow to class 2 and 3 fun. Access and parking is limited.

CLASS: Class II-IV+
DISTANCE: 10 miles
SEASON: April - June
LOCATION: East of Visalia

OUTFITTERS:
Adventure Connection
Tributary Whitewater Tours
Whitewater Voyages
American River Recreation
Beyond Limits Adventures
All Outdoors

Map  |   Hotel  |   Other Ideas


Justin with Mountain River Adventures on the Kern River

Kern whitewater rafting is broken into several sections and offers the largest variety of rafting scenery in the state. This is the closest river rafting to the Los Angeles basin so crowds can be an issue.

  • Forks of the Kern whitewater rafting begins high in the Sierras offering a plethora of class 4 to 5 whitewater rapids for the experienced only. There are several drops, holes, sieves and rocks along this stretch. Picturesque waterfalls, granite domes and campgrounds are plentiful.

  • Upper Kern river rafting begins 20-miles north of Lake Isabella. This portion is separated in 6 different whitewater sections by several dams and powerhouses. This is the most popular portion of the Kern that offers class 2 and 3 whitewater rapids but gets a little thick with brush towards the end. Along the way is Riverside Park where the river bottom is manipulated to add some challenge for kayakers. Camping is available around the lake.

  • Lower Kern whitewater rafting begins just below Lake Isabella and is a 12-mile stretch of class 4 whitewater rapids for rafters and kayakers. Campgrounds and natural hot springs are nearby. An additional 6-miles beyond that offers class V+ rapids that are just for experts.


CLASS: Class II-V+
DISTANCE: 35 miles
SEASON: April - June
LOCATION: Northeast of Bakersfield

OUTFITTERS:
Whitewater Voyages
Kern River Tours
Kern River Outfitters
Sierra South
Mountain & River Adventures

Map  |   Hotel  |   Other Ideas

Whitewater Rafting by River

Whitewater Rafting by Region

Smith RiverUpper Klammath RiverLower Klammath RiverScott RiverSalmon RiverTrinity RiverSacramento RiverEel RiverCache CreekFeather RiverYuba RiverTruckee RiverAmerican RiverCarson RiverStanislaus RiverTuolumne RiverCherry CreekMerced RiverKings RiverKaweah RiverKern River
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