Two Day Lower Kern Rafting Trips

Season: Late May – August

Our two-day Lower Kern rafting trip is the premier overnight rafting trip in California. Both days feature plenty of fun and Class III-IV rapids. Even if you’ve never been river camping or on an overnight rafting trip before, you’ll have a great time spending an evening at our spacious, riverside camp. It’s warm on the Kern River and no special gear is necessary.


Trip Meeting Time: 9:30AM

Minimum Age: 12 years old.

Trip Meeting Place: Kern River Outfitters Rafting Center. Google Map.

Trip Packet: Click here to download the Two-Day Lower Kern trip packet.

Rates: Starts at $350.

Reservations: Book online here.

Our Two-Day Lower Kern rafting season will kick off in late May. These rafting trips cover about 20 miles of fun whitewater, and feature exciting Class II, III and IV rapids. Our guides prepare all meals, and our camp is already set-up when you arrive. With the terrific weather, exhilarating rapids, and the Kern being the closest rafting to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego, our two day Lower Kern river trip is considered the best overnight rafting trip in all of Southern California.

press-writeupsOur Kern trips get talked about a lot. Highlights include National Geographic awarding us as “One of the Best Adventure Companies on Earth” and Men’s Journal naming us a “Top  Guide in the Country“.

The Two-Day Lower Kern trip is hands down the best overnight rafting trip in Southern California: 1) Exciting and fun Class II, III and IV whitewater. Perfect for experienced rafters and families. 2) The closest rafting to Southern California, by a long shot. The Kern River is the closest two day river trip to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego by not only hours but also hundreds of miles. 3) A private campground used by only our company, and reserved for just your rafting trip, located conveniently halfway down the run.

At our riverside camp we have private sleeping decks around the site and provide every guest with a comfortable, thick mattress. Summer weather on the Kern is warm and you won’t need any special camping gear. If you don’t have a sleeping bag, bring some sheets and a light blanket or rent a freshly laundered sleeping bag from us.

“…and the camping was the best ever. We woke up with an amazing view overlooking the river and hot coffee waiting for us. The food was amazing and we wouldn’t have traded that weekend for anything…”

TripAdvisor review.

We’ve made trip planning incredibly easy for you: First, find and book an available trip using our sophisticated yet simple online reservation system. Then, use this Google Map link to find directions to our Rafting Center and appropriately plan your drive to arrive on time at 9:30AM for the start of the trip. Next, review our Guest Trip Packet, and finally, sign and submit our Electronic Waiver Form. Additionally, for those planning on staying before or after the trip, we have lodging and camping recommendations.

“My family and I (8 total) just did the 2-day Lower Kern river trip and had an amazing time!…Guides were fun, educational, and really nice. I have already recommended this to 4 friends and colleagues and I haven’t even been off the river 24 hours! Highly recommended!”

Yelp review.

Day 1: Arrive at our Rafting Center

Guests punctually arrive at our Rafting Center at 9:30AM and meet the guides. The guides fit everyone into lifejackets, and if necessary, wetsuits. Concluding the Lead Guide’s “Orientation and Safety Talk,” we load onto the waiting bus.

Trip Launch

After a short drive we arrive at the launch point for the Lower Kern. Guests meet their river guide and the guide then gives a Paddle Talk. Immediately following the Paddle Talk, the trip gets underway and each raft practices their paddling technique making sure their boat is ready for the whitewater. We start off with some introductory and fun class III rapids such as Miracle, and Hobo, which eases us into our first class IV rapid: White Maiden’s. Following White Maiden’s we quickly see our next class-IV rapid, Sundown Falls.

Dropping in on Sundown Falls

Dropping in on Sundown Falls

Following Sundown (or maybe earlier, depending on our speed) we break for a delicious, riverside lunch. Our Day-1 lunch spread is deli style with enough options to satisfy any picky youngster. After lunch we hit more class III rapids and then tackle Buffalo Run, another Class-IV. More fun whitewater leads us into our final big Class-IV of the day, Powerful Possum.

powerful possum lower kern

Getting absolutely buried in Powerful Possum.

Immediately below Powerful Possum, our private campground is located on the left bank. Here the guides will show you where your overnight bags are located (they were shuttled to the campground while you were rafting) and the location of the various sleeping platforms that we have. Camp is practically already set-up, and anything else that needs to get done, the guides will take care of.

lower kern camping

We make camping easy, and comfortable. Family of four with their sleeping bags laid out on our platforms. (Notice our extra-thick sleeping pads too.)

Later that evening, appetizers will be served and then a delicious dinner. If you brought beer or wine, they will be chilled by the time you have arrived at our camp, and you are more than welcome to them at any point once we are off the river. Finally, under a sky full of more stars than you can count, you will fall restfully asleep.

The night sky views from the common area of our campground.

The night sky views from the common area of our campground.

Day 2: Back to the whitewater

Waking up refreshed, join the guides for coffee and then shortly after, our big breakfast. After breakfast, guests pack up their bags to be shuttled back to our Rafting Center, and once camp is ready, climb back into their rafts for another day of whitewater.

A quick group shot before tackling more rapids.

A quick group shot before tackling more rapids.

And today, the whitewater is quite a bit bigger than yesterday. Shortly after pushing off, the guides will navigate the boats through False Flush rapid, and then we stop to do a quick and straightforward portage around Royal Flush, a Class V+ rapid. Once back in the water, we have many Class III and IV rapids that are broken up only by another appetizing lunch. The Classic Class-IVs, otherwise known as “The Big Five” include Surprise, Hari Kari, Horseshoe, Sidewinder, and finally, Pinball.

class 4 lower kern

Day two features back to back, fun class IV whitewater

After successfully running Pinball, we lazily float for half a mile to Democrat Beach, which is the takeout. At takeout we load up on the bus, and drive back to the Rafting Center.

Do you offer group discounts?

Yes. We offer group discounts as well as school, scout and non-profit discounts. Click here to learn more about our discounts available.

Which meals are included in the Two-Day Lower Kern trip?

We take care of meals starting with lunch on day-1, and end with lunch on day-2. Our guides prepare all meals including day-1 lunch, appetizers and dinner, day-2 breakfast and day-2 lunch. We highly recommend you eat breakfast before your trip launch on day-1 as rafting is a physically demanding activity.

How many people are in each raft?

Depending on group size and which boats we use, we fit between 4 and 6 guests in each raft. As often as we can, we try to keep groups together in the same boat too.

Can you accommodate dietary requests?

Yes. With adequate advance notice, we can accommodate special diet requests.

How far in advance should I make my reservation?

Our trips are limited in size, and we have just one trip per day. Because of this, we highly encourage you to make reservations early.

What’s the minimum age for this trip?

At normal water flows, the minimum age is 9 years old.

Can I bring a GoPro or other camera on this trip?

Yes! Take a look at our blogpost with some camera tips.

Do you have lodging or camping recommendations for before or after our trip?

Yes, we have PDFs for both lodging and camping. Click here to download our Lodging Guide. Click here to download our Camping Guide.

What’s the difference between the Lower and Upper Kern?

The biggest difference is that the Lower Kern originates from Lake Isabella and is a regulated flow. This means that we have flows much longer in the season, as the river level is less dependent on run-off.

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 $100 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 Lower Kern. All Two-Day trips start below Isabella Main Dam and end at Democrat Takeout.

lower-kern-map