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.

Please note: Due to COVID, we have had to set a minimum raft / booking size of four people.

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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 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 with Surprise Rapid. The Lower Kern is pool-drop meaning we’ll have long calm pools broken up with Class II, III or IV rapids. We’ll raft four miles through this pool-drop canyon, tackling five rapids and then arrive at Democrat boat ramp.

This is our halfway point for the trip. We’ll load the boats up, drive to our lunch spot, eat lunch, and then go back to the Big Five put-in.



With one lap under our belt, we shouldn’t have a problem going bigger on our second run. We’ll dodge the “surprise” at Surprise Rapid. Smash the must-make wave at Hari Kari. Hit the line at Horshoe Falls. Thread the needle at Sidewinder and navigate the maze at Pinball Rapid. With plenty of time between the Class IV rapids, we’ll swim in the warm water, jump off the boats, and enjoy the Lower Kern canyon. It’s hard to find another section of river that offers so much in a single day. At takeout, we’ll load the rafts and head back to our Rafting Center, arriving between 3 – 5 PM.

Big Five, Camp Run or Upper Kern?

What’s the difference between all of your one-day rafting trip options?

Due to COVID, we had to cancel many of our other one-day rafting trips. We kept the Big Five because it is our most popular in June and July. There are no portages, the water is warm, and the rapids are exciting, but not overwhelming. This season we also have a Class II / III one day trip, and the greatest difference between the Big Five and the other one day is that the Big Five will repeat a section, meaning you will see a portion of the river twice. We do this because it’s considered the best section and it was a request we heard frequently from our guests. The other difference is the whitewater is much more exciting. The Class II / III one day is a great trip but has milder whitewater, where the Big Five features Class IV rapids.

Why is it called the Big Five?

The name comes from the five main rapids that make up this section of river from Delonegha Bridge to Democrat Takeout.

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?

Once you’ve made your reservation, please call us and we will link your reservation to the other party.

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Lower Kern river map