All Frequently Asked Questions

Find the answers to your questions about rafting and our trips at Whitewater Voyages quickly and easily. Feel free to send us your specific questions using the Inquiry Form if you don't see an answer, or talk to a member of our staff personally by calling us TOLL FREE at 800-400-7238 - our reservations center is open year round 9 to 5 weekdays, except for the holidays from December 15 to January 1.

  • Booking and Planning Questions & Answers
  • General Rafting Questions & Answers

Booking and Planning your River Rafting Trip

How much do river trips cost?

Prices range from $119 for an Upper Kern Express trip to $909 for a 3-day Forks of the Kern trip. Prices average between $159 and $209 per day. Compared to the cost of most high quality vacations, taking into account the cost today of travel, lodging, dining and activities, Whitewater Voyages river trips – where your well being is cared for by our professional guides and your spirit is uplifted by the ongoing relaxed adventure and fun – are a truly exceptional vacation value!

  • Each of the many trip descriptions on this web site includes the trip price – click here for a list of our California river trips.
  • For information about group discounts click here.
  • Click here for information on Super Deals and other cost saving discounts.

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When should I make a reservation?

Make reservations early! Because space is limited, and some trips fill more than six months in advance, it is best to make reservations as early as possible. However, if you should wish to join a trip on short notice, please give us a call, for there may be an opening.

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How do I make reservations?

To reserve your trip call our reservations center at 800-400-7238 (RAFT) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. You can also make reservations online by clicking to Book Now.

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How do we get to the river?

For complete travel information-including directions, maps and travel times-click on trip planning.

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Nearby camping and lodging?

For details on free and fee camping near your river click here. For a list of convenient lodging options-and other attractions-near each river click on trip planning.

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What about groups?

For groups of 12 or more, we give great Group Discounts where everyone in the group gets 20% off! Your group can share an exciting adventure that will give you something to talk about for years to come. It's easy to organize with our free Group Kits.

Big Groups may join us on many of our rivers: For example, we can accommodate groups up to 144 people on the Kings, 48 on the Kaweah, 30 on the Lower Kern, 36 (or 72) on the Yuba, and on the South Fork American 100 or so on weekends and 375 or more on weekdays. For more about the maximum group size for each of our rivers, click to Our Rivers at a Glance.

Find out more about group trips in our Group section.

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What's the minimum age for your rafting trips?

The minimum age varies according to the difficulty of the rafting run, and ranges from 6 on the South Fork American and Kings during lower summer flows, to 16 on most of our Class V trips. A recommended minimum age is listed on each river's page, as well as on our River Comparison page.

Minimum ages are used as a guideline only; a child who is exceptionally small for their age may not be suitable for a particular rafting run, a particularly high flow or low flow on a particular rafting run, or may not fit correctly into our life jackets.

There are many factors to consider, the most important of which is the safety of your child, you, and others on the trip. The final decision as to the suitability of a child for a particular run or trip will be left with the Trip Leader and/or area manager on duty on the day of your trip.

If you are unsure, call ahead, or let the booking staff know when you make your reservation.

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General Rafting Questions about your River Trip

Why choose Whitewater Voyages?

With Whitewater Voyages you get:

For More information, find out Why Whitewater Voyages is Your Obvious Choice

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Who can go whitewater rafting?

From fun, forgiving Class III to rip roaring Class V, Whitewater Voyages offers trips to suit just about everyone – including a full range of river trip choices in Southern, Central and Northern California. Everyone, young and old, who is in reasonable physical condition is welcome!

Minimum Ages: Each river has a usual minimum age ranging form 6 or 7 on the Class III Kings and South Fork American to 18 on Class V+ Yuba River Class V Alive. For a chart comparing all of our rivers-showing minimum ages for each visit Our Rafting Trips at a Glance.

For Parents: Also, folks with kids might want to visit our special web page For Parents.

For Seniors: Healthy people of all ages, including spry folks in their 70=s and 80=s love rafting with Whitewater Voyages! For fit, active people over 65, we recommend, as a first step, the South Fork American, Kings or Kern Lickety Big Daddy Run. From there, you may want to stick with more Class III, or you might like to try class IV!

Non-swimmers: are welcome on Class III, provided they are comfortable with the possibility that they might "take a swim", that is, fall out of the boat. In this case their life jacket would keep them afloat until they are pulled back into the raft. Swimming ability is required on class IV and V rivers.

Size: Each participant must fit into one of our life jackets with all buckles fastened. Our life jackets fit a maximum torso circumference of 52 inches.

Medical Conditions: People with a history of heart trouble, asthma, epilepsy, allergy to bee stings, or any other potentially serious medical condition should consult their doctor before coming on a rafting trip.

Pregnancy: For safety and liability reasons, we advise pregnant women not to participate in any of our activities.

Language: For safety reasons on class IV and V, all participants must be able to understand our safety talk and guide=s instructions, which are normally delivered in English. Japanese-, Spanish- and Russian-speaking guides are available by special arrangement. On Class III and easier rivers, non-English speakers are most welcome and, unless other arrangements are made, must bring an interpreter.

If you have any particular concerns about any of these issues, please feel free to call our reservation center at 800-400-RAFT (7238) 9 a.m. B 5 p.m. weekdays PST.

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Which river is best for us?

Whitewater Voyages offers a broad selection of spectacular river trip choices spanning the full spectrum of excitement and challenge levels in Southern, Central and Northern California. Key factors in choosing the best river for you are location, level of excitement and challenge, number of days you want to raft, and the age, paddling skills and physical abilities of each member of your group. Other things to consider might include availability of free camping and proximity to intriguing nearby attractions such as national parks. This website is loaded with features designed to help you select the ideal river for you:

  • To find the rivers nearest you click here.
  • For a comparison chart specifically designed to help you select the right river for you click here.
  • For a complete list of our California river trips click here.
  • To learn more about river ratings click here.
  • For info about camping near each of our rivers click here.

Also helpful in choosing the right river for you is our information:

Our adventure specialists in our reservations center are experts at matching individuals and groups to the perfect river for them. Call 800-400-7238 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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How many people ride in each boat?

On the South Fork American, our boats accommodate 6 to 8 people plus their guide. On other rivers our boats generally have 6 or 7 paddlers plus a guide. For more about our boats and equipment click on our equipment.

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Is rafting dangerous?

Rafting is thrilling, exciting, wet, wild and unbelievably fun. That said, as with all outdoor adventure activities, rafting involves an element of inherent risk. Our guides are trained to minimize these risks, and, statistically, rafting is far safer than many other outdoor sports. The most common injury on most rafting trips is sunburn, and most other injuries occur on land, especially when getting into and out of the boats.

We take many first timers as well as those who do not consider themselves strong swimmers on our rafting trips every day and they have a great time! When you boat with Whitewater Voyages, all of your equipment, from your Coast Guard approved, high-float life jacket, to your rugged yet lightweight, high-tech, reinforced, T-grip paddle, to your virtually indestructible, self-bailing, compartmented and unsinkable raft, is state-of-the-art and will serve you well. Your guide will teach you the principle of self-rescue and will also have his or her eye on you should you accidentally bump out of the raft. He or she will quickly work with your paddle companions to help you get back in the boat. Check out our information for first-time rafters.

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How easy is it to learn to raft?

It's easy! Our experienced guides will teach you the basics including everything from how to hold your paddle, how to turn the boat, how to stop or pick up speed and what to do if you fall out. We make sure you are comfortable, relaxed and having fun from start to finish. For more, click on first-time rafters.

Guiding rafts is more difficult, and we offer whitewater guide schools that will give you the basic skills you'll need to start running rivers on your own, or for guiding commercially. Click here for more information on our world-renowned guide schools.

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What happens on a typical trip?

You'll meet your trip leader at your trips designated rendezvous place and time. He or she will collect your release forms, distribute wet suits if you rent them from us and invite everyone to join him or her on our shuttle bus.

After a very fun shuttle ride, we arrive at our riverside raft "put-in" location where the trip leader will issue you a life jacket, paddle and (if you are on a Class IV+ or V trip) a helmet. You will then listen to our 20 minute instructional "safety talk" about how you, your paddle crew and your guide will work together as a team on the water. Then you and your friends will head to your boat!

On most of our trips we run paddle boats or oar-paddle combination boats. You will be paddling with the rest of your crew to power your boat down the river. The boats typically seat six to eight people and a guide. Before you leave shore, our guides will instruct you on efficient paddling technique. Once in the boat, your crew will push off out onto the water where your guide will give you further instruction on how to follow his or her speed and turning commands. Then you'll head down river, and have the time of your life!

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What should I wear on the river?

Dress with both the water temperature and the air temperature in mind, since you'll be getting wet. In the warm weather of summer, shorts and a T-shirt are good. In the spring time and on cooler days (and always on Class V rivers), we require wet suits or wet suit/paddle jacket combinations. Ask us about renting wetsuits when you call to book your tripCor click here for wet suit info. For extra warmth on cool days, it is a good idea to also bring some synthetic fleece, polypro, capilene, or wool garments. In cold weather don't wear cotton. Wet cotton saps heat, while fleece, poly, wool, and similar fabrics provide insulation even when wet.

Shoes: An old pair of tennis shoes, running shoes, or even converse hi-tops provide the best foot protection on the river. Wet suit booties are good if it is cold. Tevas and other strap-on sandals are OK in warmer weather, but don't offer as much protection.

Sunglasses, especially prescription glasses, should have a croakie or other retainer that cinches tight. Instead of contact lenses, it is better to wear an old pair of glasses with a head strap.

Sunscreen: Use sunscreen, especially on your more horizontal surfaces, including tops of upper legs, shoulders, back of neck and top of nose. However don't put sunscreen on your forehead or the backs of your legs. It may run into your eyes, or cause you to slip off the boat. Protect your foreheadBand face and back of neckBwith a hat secured by a chin strap.

For a complete packing list of what to bring on your trip, click here.

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What about photos, cameras, videos and DVDs?

Independent photo companies shoot most of our trips and normally you will have an opportunity to view and purchase these after your trip. Also, on many of our rivers, you can get a custom DVD of your trip if you call us in advance. You are also welcome to shoot your own photos, etc. However, we recommend bringing only waterproof cameras. We sell in our stores – on the Kern, Kings and American – disposable waterproof cameras, which are well suited to rafting. The quality of the pictures is pretty good, and if you lose it, it's not the end of the world. If you do bring a non-waterproof camera or video camera, please make sure you also bring a waterproof pouch or box – these are available at camera and sport stores.

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Should I tip my guide?

Our guides work hard to provide you with the finest possible trip. If you feel their service have been extraordinary, a gratuity would be appreciated. This can be given to the Whitewater Voyages "Team Leader'" who will distribute it equally among the crew. As with all tipping, this is of course optional and solely at your discretion.

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What should I bring with me in the boat?

On most of our one-day trips, the essentials will include a personal water bottle, and some sunscreen to touch-up during the day. Keys, prescription glasses without a retention strap, wallets, or anything you can't lose, should not be brought on the boat with you. On longer trips, or trips without easy roadside access, there will often be a "day" bag into which you can place an extra t-shirt or jacket, hat, etc.

If you have medications such as an Epi-pen (for bee-sting allergies) or other items that should stay complete dry but remain accessible, place them inside two ziplock bags, and let your guide and the trip leader know. They may put them in with the first aid kit that is brought on every trip, or some other more secure location.

Optionally, a waterproof camera will always be fun to have, and allow you to get some great photos from the river, in addition to those that our professional photographers take. (But remember to check with your guide before taking photos – they may need you to paddle!)

If you have any questions, ask your guide, or our friendly staff members when you check in for your trip. They're always willing to help.

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Medical Condition Alert: Bring Your Own Medication

Our staff is prepared to provide basic first aid, but we are prohibited by law from providing, and we are not trained to administer medications or advanced medical care. So, all clients with medical conditions such as susceptibility to anaphylactic shock from bee stings, etc., should bring and keep handy and inform their guide(s) about their own medication/anaphylactic kit.

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Other River Trips You Might Like:

Lower Kern River Big Water
Class IV - 1 Day

Lower Kern River Southern Sierra Escape
Class III-IV - 2 Days

Upper Kern River Snap, Crackle and Pop
Class III-IV - 1/2 to 1 Day

Upper Kern Thunder Run
Class V - 1 Day

Forks of the Kern Wilderness Juggernaut
Class V - 2 or 3 Days

Kings River Mega Joy Ride
Class III+ - 2 Days

Merced River Foam Dancer
Class IV - 2 Day

Middle Fork American River Blaster
Class II-IV - 1 or 2 Days

Kaweah River Sequoia Gateway
Class IV+ - 2 Day

Lower North Yuba Shangri-La
Class IV-V - 1 Day

" I recently went to Whitewater Voyages' Guide School on the American River. What a life-changing experience! Bill McGinnis is a brilliant teacher and a kind soul. I wish everyone I know could get a chance to talk with him. His staff of instructors are knowledgable and supportive. They work their tails off to help everyone learn as much as they can. One great week in my life! "
- Mo
Sacramento, California

" The two-day Kings River trip was INCREDIBLE! The guides (Jenni, Abby, Neil, Eric and the entire crew) were fantastic. I cannot say enough about their skills, their cooking abilities, and their great personalities! Any future whitewater trip will be with you guys! Why go with anyone else? I've always had a great time with your outfit... Top notch! Keep it up! "
- Michael
Irvine, California

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Whitewater Voyages
11252 Kernville Road, Kernville, CA 93238
Call Toll Free: 800-400-7238
The Leader in California White Water Rafting Trips Since 1975

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