Start your day in the heart of the Lower Kern canyon and wind your way through Class II, III and IV whitewater down to Democrat take-out.

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Arrive at our Rafting Center at 8:30 AM and check-in with our staff. Once everyone has arrived the Trip Leader will give an orientation talk and the guides will hand out and fit personal flotation devices (PFDs) and helmets. Once we’re ready to go, we load up on the bus and head to our first put-in. After we walk down to the launch point, guests meet their river guide and the guide then gives a Paddle Talk. Immediately following the Paddle Talk, we push off and each raft practices their paddling technique making sure their boat is ready for the whitewater. By this point, the trip is officially underway!

The Big Five jumps quickly into Class III whitewater and within 15 minutes you hit False Flush, a class III+ (IV depending on water flows). After False Flush we arrive at Royal Flush, a mandatory portage. Fortunately, there is a cement path clearing a route for us to carry the rafts around this Class VI rapid with relative ease.

After the Royal Flush we return to floating through pools and running the rapids. Around 12:30 we break for lunch on the side of the river.



After a hearty lunch, it’s back to the whitewater. By this point, we’re right in the thick of what gives the Big Five its name: Five exciting rapids separated with splashy class II whitewater and pools to float through. Suprise Rapid, Hari Kari, Horseshoe, Sidewinder and Pinball. After Pinball rapid we float a short way to Democrat, our takeout. From there we’ll load back onto the bus and drive you back to our Rafting Center.

Big Five, Camp Run or Upper Kern?

What’s the difference between all of your one-day rafting trip options? The biggest difference is the Big Five has a mandatory portage around a Class VI rapid called The Royal Flush. We’re good at it though, so it’s not that big of a deal. It will require you to help lift the raft and carry it down the walking path so we can clear the rapid. There are no portages on the Camp Run, and the loading and unloading required on the Upper Kern is easier in comparison to the carry around the Royal Flush.

Why is it called the Big Five? This is in reference to the section from Delonegha Bridge to Democrat takeout, which is a portion of the river we float through in the afternoon. The name comes from the five main rapids that make up that segment.

How are they similar? In terms of tangible details, our three full day trips are very similar. They each cover about 10 miles on the water. They all have class II, III and IV rapids of approximately equal quantities. They all have the same lunch. They meet and end at roughly the same time.

What to Expect and What to Pack

Top Five FAQs Related to this Trip

Click here to see additional common questions

How many people are in each raft?

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

What’s the minimum age for this trip?

The Big Five has a minimum age of 12 years old.

Why does this trip run injunction with your Two Day Lower Kern?

Our permit has a set capacity per launch. If our Two Day Lower Kern doesn’t reach its capacity then we offer one-day trips as a fill in. We keep the trips together for safety and logistics. Our Camp Run is the first day of our Two Day, and our Big Five, is the second day of our Two Day.

Which section on the Lower Kern is the Big Five?

The Big Five puts in at our private campground and takes out at Democrat. On the map below, look for the red star with the label “Kern River Outfitters Campground” – that is our put-in. The river to the southwest (left side of the map) is the area that the trip runs on. The section to the northeast of our camp (right side of the map) is our Camp Run rafting trip.

My friends booked this trip. How do I join their party?

Individual reservations made outside of a group reservation are linked together through the online waiver. When you complete the waiver, there is a field labeled “Group Organizer”. Simply write down groups name, and we will know that you are a member of that party

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Lower Kern river map



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