Frequently Asked Questions

Who can go white water rafting?

Forks of the Kern
Minimum Age 16

Thunder Run (Upper Kern, Class V)
Minimum Age 14

Upper Kern (Class IV)
Minimum Age 12

Lower Kern
Minimum Age 10

Minimum Age 5 years old and 50 pounds

MRA offers trips to suit just about everyone. Anyone young or old that is in reasonable physical condition is welcome!

  • Mature Adventurer: Active folks in their 70’s and 80’s love rafting with MRA!
  • Mom or Dad Adventurer: Our river trips make great opportunities for family bonding.
  • Non-Swimming Adventurer:  is welcome on Class III, provided they are comfortable with the possibility that they might “take an unexpected swim” in the river. In this case their life jacket would keep them afloat until they are pulled back into the raft. Swimming ability is required on our Class IV-V river trips.
  • Plus Size Adventurer:  Each participant will need to fit into one of our life jackets with all buckles fastened.  Our life jackets fit a maximum torso circumference of 52 inches.
  • Adventurers with Medical Conditions: Folks 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.
  • English as a Second Language Adventurer: For safety reasons on Class IV and V river trips, all participants must be able to understand our safety talk and guide instructions, which are normally delivered in English.  On Class III and easier river trips, non-English speakers are most welcome and, unless other arrangements are made, must bring an interpreter.

Can you accommodate special needs?

MRA has a proven track record of providing safe and enjoyable trips to a diverse array of clients, including the visually impaired and physically handicapped.  We are also happy to accommodate our guests’ special dietary needs and are able to pack along medication. Please fully complete your Participation Agreement where you should list any special needs. This information will be relayed to your Trip Leader and provisions will be made to accommodate your requests.

If you have any particular questions about who can go rafting, please feel free to call our reservation office at 800-861-6553 for more detailed information.

About the Kern River

Typically, the Kern River flows from late April through September. The best time to book your trip depends on the stretch of river you are interested in paddling. The Forks of the Kern, the Upper Kern River, and the Thunder Run stretches are early to mid-season trips depending on the spring snow melt. The best time to run the Forks and Upper Kern stretches are from late March until mid-July. The Lower Kern usually runs from late-May through mid-September.

What’s the difference in the stretches of the Kern?

The Kern offers over 60 miles of paddling fun. Due to location of dams and runnable sections of the Kern, the river is divided into three segments which are called (1) the Forks of the Kern; (2) the Upper Kern and (3) the Lower Kern.

The Forks of the Kern is a two or three-day, nearly 20 mile stretch of Class IV and V whitewater that runs through one of the most beautiful canyons in the country. This trip is typically not recommended for first time rafters, and offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience one of the most remote and exhilarating rafting trips anywhere.

The Upper Kern one day trip offers almost 20 miles of Class III and IV whitewater to choose from and is our primary early season trip offering. The Thunder Run is a one-day Class V trip that runs through a section of the Upper Kern with a steeper gradient and a higher class of rapids than the rest of the Upper. It offers those looking for a bigger challenge the opportunity to test their skills on one of the wilder sections of the river. The Thunder Run, like the Forks of the Kern, is for experienced rafters that are fit and ready for adventure.

Our beginners section is known as the Powerhouse section, and is sometimes referred to as our Rapid Blitz and Double Blitz river trips. These are very short one to 3.5 hour trips and are suitable for just about everyone five years and older (must weigh at least fifty pounds). This stretch is at the very bottom of the Upper Kern, which can be confusing. The rapids in this stretch are rated Class I-III. The Powerhouse run offers really fun, short trips.

The Lower Kern River is our premier two-day Class III-IV trip that offers something for everyone. Originating from Lake Isabella reservoir, this 20 mile stretch of river has some of the most enviable qualities of any river in the country, warm water and plenty of great whitewater to boot! Halfway through the trip, we stop and spend the evening at our private campground where you are lavished with sumptuous meals, comfy sleeping pads, and an outdoor experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime. The Lower Kern is perfect for a family outing and is enjoyed by experienced as well as novice rafters. The Lower Kern is primarily a two day trip, but for those looking for a shorter trip, several one day offerings are available here on the Lower Kern. This segment of the Kern River is arguably Southern California’s “premiere” overnight rafting experience.


What to bring

About the boats

About rafting

About the guides


Every 12th Person…

Every 12th person goes FREE on most of our Kern River rafting trips! (except Saturdays on the Lower Kern)

MRA Specials
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Latest News |
February 19, 2016
River Guide School

MRA River Guide Flyer 2017

Learn to Guide, Learn to Lead on California’s Famous Kern River

Meet the Challenge… Get Results… Be There!

MRA Guide Schools are for anyone interested in…

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Become a River Guide
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Call 800-861-6553 or reserve online >>

Click here to see registration details. All activities are subject to a 3% land use fee.