Learning the Craft of River Rafting

Beginners Rafting FunFor a beginning rafter there's no better way to have a quality rafting experience than with a Whitewater Voyages river trip for newcomers! On our river runs for beginners, relaxed adventure and pure fun combined with our special "Voyages" atmosphere of appreciation, learning and acceptance, really do inspire newcomers to discover and delight in themselves and master the craft of river rafting.

  • Rafting Trips for Beginners
  • Discounts & FREE Camping
  • Help Choosing Trip
  • More Info

California River Rafting for the Beginner!

Learning to RaftOffering the best in California rafting vacations since 1975, Whitewater Voyages has over 30 years of experience operating rafting trips for people who are new to the game and want to learn whitewater rafting on Californias' rivers.

We maintain the highest standards of safety and professionalism in the business and are dedicated to taking the absolute best care of our beginning rafters.

Widely recognized as industry leaders, our guides are rigorously trained in all aspects of river safety, logistics and emergency preparedness to ensure the well being of you during your time with us. With Whitewater Voyages, whether it's a starters rafting trip on the Kern River in Southern California, a ride on the Kings in Central California or a voyage of learning on the South Fork of the American in Northern California, you as a newcomer will enjoy the California rafting experience of a lifetime.

South Fork American River

Rafters of all ages are delighted by this fun, exciting Class III river. The South Fork of the American River is a terrific place to learn rafting especially when combined with free camping the night before and the night after your trip at our River Park Adventure Campground!

Check our Trips at a Glance to find out class levels and more for each of our river trips.

Special Safety Equipment

We provide state-of-the-art equipment and the best life jackets for beginners and experienced rafters alike. When booking your trip, please be sure to let us know the number of people in your group so we can make sure we have plenty of the right sized equipment for you all.

Rafting Travel Discounts and FREE Camping

Free CampingWe want to make our trips as affordable as possible and have some great travel discounts for your rafting adventure. Please note however, only one discount can apply per trip!

We also offer free camping the night before and the night after your trip with us at our River Park Adventure Campground! on the South Fork of the American River.

The River Park Adventure Campground is located in the Sierra foothills in the historic gold rush town of Coloma (near where Hwy 49 crosses the South Fork of the American) 35 miles east of Sacramento. It offers full creature comforts including warm showers, flush toilets, 2 gourmet camp kitchens, a store and dining areas for groups. as well as an incredible variety of entertaining activities such as giant chess, volleyball, horse shoes, ping pong, foosball and more.

Youth and Senority Discounts

Rafters aged 16 and younger and rafters aged 65+ receive a 10% discount on all our rivers and trips (except on the Lower Kern on a Saturday start).

Group Discounts

Groups of 12 or more receive 20% off their trip price! Check out our free group organizer kit!

Is This Your First Whitewater Rafting Trip?

It's an exciting prospect, preparing for your first rafting trip! The following whitewater rafting tips for beginners will help, and our Whitewater Voyages staff is also available to answer whatever questions you might have. Just give us a call at 800-400-7238!

Did You Know?


If this is your first trip, you probably have a lot of questions and that's just fine by us!

How easy is it to learn to raft?

It's easy! Our experienced guides will teach you the basics from how to hold your paddle, to how to turn the boat, from how to stop or pick up speed to what to do if you fall out. We make sure you are comfortable, relaxed and having fun from start to finish. If you are feeling scared, how can you have fun?

What if I'm not a great swimmer and I fall out?

We've got you covered! From your pfd (personal floatation device) to your paddle, your equipment is state-of-the-art and will keep you above water. Your guide will have taught you the principle of self-rescue and will also have his or her eye on you should you accidently bump out of the raft and will quickly work to help you get back in the boat.

Can I bring my kids?

We offer runs for kids as young as 6 years old on the South Fork American river or 7 yrs old on the Kings River. These easy rivers are exciting, but ideal for younger, older, and first-time rafters.

What Class of river or difficulty level of river should I start at?

Our River Difficulty chart will help guide you to the less challenging runs we offer in Southern and Northern California.

What if I have a bunch of friends who also have never been rafting?

No problem! Get a great Group Discount for groups over 12 and share an exciting adventure that will bring your group together and give you something to talk about for years to come. It's easy to organize with our free Group Kits, everyone in the group gets a 20% discount!

We can accommodate large groups, up to 100 people, on the South Fork American and Middle Fork American (mid-week). We can take groups of 30 people on the Lower Kern, 48 people on the Kaweah, 36 on the Yuba, 50 people on the Upper Kern, and 72 people on the Kings River.

Find out more about group trips in our for Group Organizers Section

What are the best rafting trips for beginners to start on?

Here are some great options for beginner rafters:

Also you may be interested in some of our specialty rafting trip and camp options:

More Information for Beginners

Whitewater Voyages first-timer trips overflow with respect, learning, fun, adventure, exhilaration and camaraderie, bringing newcomers and experienced rafters together like nothing else. Plenty of options both on and off the river provide a perfect balance of learning and relaxation. The atmosphere of friendship, acceptance and appreciation on Whitewater Voyages rafting trips for beginners inspires an almost magical atmosphere for everyone present and for being alive on this beautiful planet. What could be better than sharing this experience with like minded people around you?


Without a doubt, the safety of all our rafters is top priority. Your trip leader will give you a thorough safety talk at the river put-in so that you know how to handle every situation.

Special Equipment

Our guides will also ensure that all equipment is appropriately fitted for maximum protection and safety. When booking your trip with our reservations center, please be sure to request the correct size life jacket for you.

Have Fun, Learn and Grow

Many of our river guides, having lived and rafted these rivers for many years, are extremely knowledgeable about the areas in which we raft. They understand the local history, geology, wildlife and the plants of the area, and they love sharing their knowledge and contagious fascination with you!

Gourmet Meals

Our meals are high quality, homemade masterpieces made with the freshest ingredients. Because meals are served group style, with one or more entrées, we ask that you inform us in advance of any special dietary needs you may have, so that we can accommodate accordingly.

Check out our Gourmet River Cuisine!

One-day trips include a wholesome, abundant lunch and end-of-trip beverages. Two-day and longer trips include pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres, healthy snacks and beverages and riverside breakfast feasts. Multi-day trip meals begin with lunch the first day and end with lunch the last day.

What to Wear and Bring

For a comprehensive sample packing list and other information that will help you bring everything you will need to be comfortable on your rafting trip, visit our Trip Planning section.

" We were a group of 13 who went rafting on the American River (South Fork). It was the most entertaining and exciting vacation we all had in a while. The crew were very friendly and the best I liked about Whitewater Voyages is their free camping. Even though it's free, this is one of the best camp grounds I have visited. Lunch provided during Rafting trip was the best you could ask for. Overall, I would rate Whitewater Voyages as one the best rafting companies I have experienced in the last 10 years. If at all I ever get an opportunity to raft again, I will definitely use this company again. NO doubt about that. "
- Chalapathi Rao,
Union City, California

To check availability and / or make your reservation, either call our friendly and helpful staff at 800-400-7238
or Use our new On-line Reservation System

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

Kaweah River Sequoia Shooter
Class IV+ - 1 Day

Kaweah River Sequoia Gateway
Class IV+ - 2 Day

Whitewater Guide School

Group Trips

Find us on Yelp

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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