The day before your trip, the lead guide of your trip will hold an informational meeting to discuss trip details and hand out waterproof bags for your gear. The pre-trip meeting will be held the evening before the trip at our Rafting Center at 6602 Wofford Blvd, Wofford Heights, CA 93285
Personal Information Form and Waiver
A link to complete your waiver is in your booking confirmation email.
Each member of your party needs to completely fill out, read, understand and sign our Personal Information and Participant Agreement Form. A timely submission allows us to plan for any special needs.
Park your car at the back of the building and register inside. Although our parking lot is on private property, it is near a busy road. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle and make sure it is securely locked. No overnight camping is allowed at our parking area.
Lodging and Camping
There are plenty of lodging and camping options in the Kern River Valley. View our lodging guide here. View our camping guide here.
The headwaters of the Kern are on the slopes of Mt. Whitney. By the time the river reaches our put-in at the confluence of the North Fork and the Little Kern, the water temperature is usually in the mid-forties. Use of a wetsuit and paddling jacket is included in your trip fee. We do not provide footwear and recommend neoprene or wool socks, which you should wear with sturdy sneakers. This is the best footwear for stability, moving around on rocky trails, and foot protection. Standard booties don’t provide enough support and protection when climbing over boulders. A full-length wetsuit is absolutely essential for your comfort and to avoid hypothermia, the dangerous lowering of the body’s temperature.
Well in advance of your trip, please return your completed Participant Agreement and provide the personal information requested. Remember to include your height, weight, and age.
On the morning of the trip, we meet at our Rafting Center in Wofford Heights at 7:00 am. After registering, we board our bus for the 2-hour drive to Lloyd Meadows and the trail head to the Forks. From there, we hike to the river.
The hike is downhill, switch-backing steadily, with a striking view of the canyon. You must carry your own gear, which usually weighs about thirty pounds. The trail is easy going, and the duffels Kern River Outfitters provides have convenient shoulder straps. Please bring only essential items, so that we can keep the weight of the boats to a minimum.
At the river put-in, you’ll meet the rest of the guides who have helped pack the boats down to the river by horseback the previous day. While the boats are readied and the equipment stowed, we’ll serve lunch. You’ll have a chance to pack items you’ll want during the day in waterproof containers. You’ll probably want to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and perhaps a camera. We will also use this time to go over further safety and logistics concerns.
We start floating the river in the afternoon on the first day. During the second day, we start midmorning. All two days take us through some astounding rapids, all piled one on top of another. Freeman Creek, Vortex, Confusion, the Gauntlet, and Carson Falls are some of the highlights of this 22 mile stretch of river. We reach take-out mid- afternoon of the second day and usually have you back to the Rafting Center and your car by 5 PM.
On River Procedures
The Forks of the Kern is a snow-melt river subject to quick changes of high mountain weather conditions, and the water level can rise or fall significantly in a few hours. At some water levels, rapids such as Carson Falls and Vortex may be unsafe to run. At these times, the Trip Leader may elect to line or portage the boats and equipment around these spots or to have the guides row the boats through with no passengers in them. On most trips, there will be time for hikes up side canyons and streams. Fishing here is great. You can try your luck at our overnight camp and lunch stops. If you plan to fish, you must obtain a fishing license.
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 in the event you must cancel because of unforeseen circumstances.
Guests sometimes ask whether gratuities are appropriate. If you enjoyed your trip, please feel free to leave a tip with the Trip Leader. Guests typically leave 15% – 20% of the trip cost. Gratuities will be shared among all the guides on the trip.
Our trips are conducted under a permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service, Sequoia National Forest. Our permit is your assurance that Kern River Outfitters is legally operating on the river. Our operations and facilities are operated on a nondiscriminatory basis.
Optional items might include reading material, sketch pad, field glasses, fishing equipment (rods in protective aluminum cases), camera, and personal beverages (in unbreakable containers). Do not bring radios or firearms.
Remember we carry everything with us. Pack light.