Posted on 4/7/2021, updated 7/16/21

7/16/21 update: Our 2021 Kern river rafting season has concluded. Thank you for a wonderful year.

With our opening day this coming weekend, we’re excited to have our 2021 Kern river rafting season get underway. This blogpost is our annual water outlook and river flow projection.

2021 snowpack summary

The Southern Sierra’s experienced a mild winter which is reflected in our below-average snowpack. Fortunately, a single large storm in the latter part of January delivered a significant punch which contributed to the majority of this winter’s snowpack.

This season’s snowpack is a very close analog to our 2012-2013 winter, which we have taken into account in our season projections.

Southern Sierra April 1, 2021 Snowpack: 42%

Upper Kern daily average peak: 694 CFS. Occurred on 5/6/21

Projected Lower Kern daily average peak: 600 CFS. Late-June to early July timeframe

Trip schedule

We’ll be operating our regular schedule of half, full and overnight trips this season, with the primary difference being a tighter window of availability.

April and May

June and July


Flow Projections

We’re projecting the Upper Kern to be above 500 CFS from mid-April through the end of May. For the Lower Kern, we are projecting flows above 600 CFS from early June through the latter part of July. What might significantly change our Lower Kern season is if the farmers opt to do a large Lake Isabella drawdown. This would be positive news and would either increase flows on the Lower Kern or extend our season. While we don’t get insight into this decision-making process, we feel that this possibility is likely.

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  1. How far are you from Santa Barbara?
    What do you recommend for a first timer.
    Adventurist Athletic
    May be interested in an overnight
    Where are your prices ion the website?

    1. Hi Constance. We’re just under four hours from SB to our Rafting Center. For adventurous, first time rafters, I would aim for a Class IV rafting trip, such as our Two Day Lower Kern, or if you’re looking for something shorter, our Class IV Half Day. Prices can be found under the menu link “Schedule and Rates” or by clicking here.

  2. Hello, I’ve always wanted to do white water rafting but never got the chance to because of work and little kids. Now my kids are grown and I’m getting older of course. So while I still can I want to do it this year. Can we still go in July and get some thrill out of it? I just don’t want to float in a quiet river! We will be coming from Chino Hills, CA, and planning to go on a weekend, most probably do it on a Saturday, can you give me some tips? Where can we stay overnight so we don’t have to drive so early on a Saturday without breaking the bank? There will be 4 of us all adults. Thank you and hope to hear from you soon!

    1. Hi Teri, if you’re looking for a mellow trip in July then we do have a couple of options for you to consider. Our Half Day Float and Full Day Float are Class II with a little bit of Class III involved. For lodging, most places in Kernville and Wofford have affordable options, but it just depends on your budget. If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, then going midweek will help your wallet quite a bit. Feel free to email me directly (matt at kern rafting dot com) and I can help you out with specifics. Cheers!

  3. Is Lower Kern, Class 2, 3 going to be low in water level in July 2021 during the July 4th weekend? We want to ensure the water level and flow will be enough for us to have the full experience of river rafting. Please advise.

    1. Hi Urmila, We currently have low flows and I expect those to continue over the fourth of July weekend. My suggestion is to skip this season if whitewater is the preference for the trip. The float trips that we offer have Class II and some III but it’s not the splashy rapids that we normally offer in a regular season.

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