Thunder Run

Season: Mid April – June

When water conditions are ideal and a group with prior experience wants to run the biggest rapids, they can book our Thunder Run. This Class IV-V section is famous for some of the biggest drops in California. The Thunder Run is not for first timers or youngsters.

Trip Meeting Time: 8:30AM

Minimum Age: 16 years old.

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

Trip Packet: Click here to download the Thunder Run trip packet.

Rates: $225

Reservations: Please call us for reservations: 1-760-376-3370.

The most challenging section of the Upper Kern is known as the Thunder Run. Screaming Right Turn, Sock-‘em-Dog, and Squashed Paddler are a few of the rapids you’ll find on this Class V stretch of river. Due to the difficult nature of these rapids, we recommend this trip only for people with prior rafting experience.

“Great fun with a professional outfit! That was one of the best runs I’ve taken, almost all IV/V’s…the experience was a blast. Highly recommended.”

TripAdvisor review

Most Class V rivers have a narrow “window” of runnable water levels, and the Thunder Run is no exception. When the river is too high or too low, we may need to modify our trip and run stretches of the river other than the Thunder Run. Although we do our best to schedule these trips to coincide with traditional optimal flows, Mother Nature does not always cooperate. It may be necessary to change the structure of the trip with little or no prior notice.


Where exactly is the Thunder Run?

The Thunder Run is a section of river on the Upper Kern. Our other trips, Full Day, Half Day, and Kernville Rapid Run, do not run any portion of the Thunder Run area.

How long does the Thunder Run take?

The Thunder Run is a full day rafting trip.

What is the “Class V Paddler’s Evaluation”?

After registering at our Rafting Center, we board our bus and drive to the nearby town of Kernville. We stop there to review safety issues and 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. After the test we’ll re-board our bus and head for the river. Guests who do not pass the Paddler’s Evaluation will be returned to our Rafting Center and issued a credit that can be applied to another trip.

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.

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.

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 $50 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 Upper Kern. The beginning of the Thunder Run section is labeled in green text, located approximately halfway down the map. Please keep in mind that this map includes other sections of the Upper Kern, including the Full Day Upper Kern and Kernville Rapid Run sections.