Our Kern River Story
It all began on the Kern River, late one winter evening around a smoky campfire. Three friends, dreaming big and longing to turn their love of the outdoors into a business partnership, created a plan.
That campfire inspiration became Mountain & River Adventures, affectionately known as MRA to guests, staff and the local community. Our doors opened on April 1, 1989, and the one partner who steadied the course has never looked back. After weathering the storm of “start up” operations for the first three years, John Stallone has turned what started out back in 1988 as Soaring Eagle Mountain Biking into one of the most diverse river companies in the west, Mountain & River Adventures.
With only three boats, a handful of guides and an old yellow van to shuttle customers, the dream began. Relying on three years experience as a guide for another outfitter here on the Kern, plus years as an Outdoor Leader for the Leisure Connection program at a university, John was able to successfully navigate the ebb and flow of administrative work and ultimately pursue his true passion, time spent on the water and trails.
In 1995 Mountain & River Adventures expanded its operation by offering camping and meals, which include a more full-service adventure menu, to guests. John’s dream, sketched out on the back of a dinner napkin, was coming to fruition, but not without a lot of blood, sweat and tears as he oversaw the grueling work it took to carve out 33 campsites on 15 acres of boulders and scrub brush. That dinner napkin design included a private raft put-in, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, an outdoor dining area, Bull Run Pavilion, Bud’s Grove, and what is now regarded as “the best” campground restroom on the Kern River. Our Bull Run Pavilion, a sculpted boulder amphitheater, has become a fun venue for camp movies and live music, while Bud’s Grove has evolved into a “favorite for local’s” wedding location.
Another expansion in 2006 opened up the entire stretch of the Kern River to MRA. Once known for our excellence as a Powerhouse run company, MRA now offers our customers outstanding river trips on any segment of the Kern River you could dream of paddling. Fast forward to today and MRA is truly a full-service, outdoor adventure outfitter with strong stewardship ethics and community priorities.
A Community Partner
Mountain & River Adventures serves as a model for other outfitters. Our innovative strategies and the way we serve the needs of our customers are often noticed and then put into practice by other outfitters. MRA is committed to helping maintain and improve the outstanding qualities of the natural environment along the Kern River and within all of our operating areas. We firmly believe that natural, cultural and historic features should be left in the same condition as they are found. We stress this in our guide training with the practice of Leave No Trace principles, in our company-wide recycling program, participation in Litter Clean Up events and we encourage each and every guest to follow our example.
Raft trips are not only fun and exciting, but they are also a chance to learn about and enjoy the great outdoors and the breathtaking beauty of the area. We use several techniques to help our guests learn more about the area: we incorporate stewardship information into our correspondence and advertising, we have enhanced our guide training to include information and history about the area, we include river etiquette in our safety talks, and we use the Internet to provide information about the river, the lake and the surrounding area not only to our guests, but to anyone surfing the web. We believe that these messages add value to everyone’s experience here. We have even built the discussion of these environmental topics into our high school scholarship program to help local teens focus on solutions to local issues.
Mountain & River Adventures is helping to create a world in balance with itself. Through our services on public lands, diverse people become more aware and connected to themselves, each other, and nature. Through providing education and adventure services that help people experience themselves fully in nature, memories and new skills become tools which are depended and reflected on to make healthy decisions in day-to-day lives. Our communities respect and care for the outdoors, and our natural environment sustains us for generations to come.
Mountain & River Adventures creates pure, fun experiences — connecting people with nature and each other, through diverse adventure options that suit the individual.
Our Stewardship Vision
People are aware and connected to themselves, each other and nature. People are able to derive positive energy from their work and play. People can escape to a healthy world of adventure, fun and great memories. Through utilizing opportunities to experience ourselves in nature, our memories and skills become tools which we can depend and reflect on, helping us make good decisions in our day-to-day lives. Our communities, both locally and globally, respect the outdoors.
As local residents and business owners in the Kern River Valley we have a strong philosophy about the Stewardship of our forest and community. We wish to encourage sensible use of the Forest and seek to encourage other responsible, like-minded individuals to come share in our vision for our community. It is such a necessary part of our business and our lives that we invite each of our customers and business partners to share in and be part of our Stewardship Vision; where the world is in balance. Please join us!
Sincerely, John, Rhonda, Sebastian and our management team.