Forks of the Kern Rafting
Mile for mile, no stretch of whitewater in North America compares to the Forks of the Kern. This 22 mile rafting trip features huge Class V drops and continuous Class IV whitewater framed by some of the most spectacular canyon scenery in the west. Space is limited and trips fill early. We expect to run Forks of the Kern trips in May this year.
Trip Length: 2 or 3 day.
Minimum Age: 16 years old.
Trip Packet: Click here to download the Forks of the Kern trip packet.
Schedule and Rates: Starts at $749.
Reservations: Please call us for reservations, 1-760-376-3370.
The Forks of the Kern originates near Mt. Whitney in the Golden Trout Wilderness. It is much more strenuous than other river trips and guests should be in good shape. We require that all guests have good stamina and take an evaluation swim. The canyon is steep and remote. We utilize horses and mules to carry our rafts to the river. Guides and guests hike the 2.5 miles to put-in carrying their own gear.
Kern River Outfitters has established the standard in running this incredible Class V river. Our Forks of the Kern trips have been featured in numerous publications, including Outside Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, and National Geographic Traveler.
Trips are limited to 15 guests. A full trip typically has two paddle rafts and four oar/paddle set-ups. Although most of our trips are 3 days long, charter groups of eight or more can arrange two-day trips. Our trip fares includes the use of wetsuits, paddling jackets and waterproof bags for personal gear. Most of our Forks guests spend the evening before their trip in the Kern Valley at one of the many motels in the area. Our office will be happy to assist with your pre and/or post trip lodging plans.
One aspect that makes the Forks so special, is it begins at the Golden Trout Wilderness. This area, designated by Congress in 1978, puts in place important restrictions to keep this 303,000 acre area pristine. Our small group sizes, and few launches ensure that each trip has a genuine sense of solitude, and seclusion.
Three-day trips are the favorite of guests and guides alike. The Forks of the Kern has some of the world’s most famous whitewater – but the trip is more than just rapids. The canyon that we travel through offers beautiful side-hikes to towering waterfalls, amazing views of the “Needles”, and spectacular camping spots along the bank of the river. If you have the time, the three-day trip is certainly the best way to experience the Forks of the Kern. Although most of our trips are 3 days long, charter groups consisting of eight or more can arrange two-day trips.
Please call before making reservations, due to the nature of the trip, all guests are phone screened prior to bookings being accepted.
In the Background: The day before your trip
Guides hike their personal bags, throw bags, oars and other loose ends down the trail.
Meanwhile, back in Kernville, CA
Day 1: First day of the trip
Day 2: Deep in the canyon
Day 3: Final day, and Carson Falls
What kind of shape do I need to be in to be considered for this trip?
You need to be in good shape. Prior to the trip, the guides will conduct a run and swim test to evaluate the ability of our guests to deal with conditions we might encounter. Guests will be asked to take our “Class V Paddler’s Evaluation”. This test will include basic swimming and safety exercises with a focus on stamina.
What’s the minimum age for this trip?
The minimum age is 16 years old.
Do you have lodging or camping recommendations for before or after our trip?
Can I bring a GoPro or other camera on this trip?
Yes! Take a look at our blogpost with some camera tips.
What is your cancellation policy?
If you must cancel your reservation, you may be eligible for a partial refund. Our cancellation policy is firm. We operate under stringent federal regulations which restrict the number of guests per trip and the number of trips per season. We incur substantial expenses before each trip departs. In the event of late cancellations, Kern River Outfitters cannot recover costs, nor can we make refunds. Written cancellation notice received more than 30 days prior to departure will result in a refund of trip fees less $250 per person. Cancellations within 30 days of a trip are nonrefundable. If you must cancel at the last minute, and do not have trip insurance, try to find a friend to take your place.
Who do you recommend for trip insurance?
We recommend you supplement personal insurance with travel insurance. Cancellation initiated by you may result in substantial loss of fees paid. Available insurance protects against the loss of deposits/full fare in the event you must cancel because of unforeseen circumstances. If you don’t have a preferred travel insurance company, some options are BHTP and Travel Guard.
Below is a summary map of the Forks of the Kern. All trips begin at The Island and takeout at Willow Point.