Thunder Run – Class V Rafting

Experience the thrill of riding some of the biggest rapids on the Kern. The Thunder run is respectfully named as one of the most challenging rafting runs around. This Class V run requires peak athleticism and expert paddling skills. For those looking for a wild ride, we can take you there.


 The Upper Kern River has some of California’s best whitewater rafting. The most exciting and challenging section of the Upper Kern is known as the Thunder Run. Screaming Right Turn. Sock-‘em Dog and Squashed Paddler are but a few of the drops you’ll find on this Class V stretch of the river. Because of very difficult rapids we suggest this trip for people with prior rafting experience. But before we get into the details of this outrageous day of whitewater, there are a few things you should know about how the Thunder Run works.


 Most Class V rivers have a relatively narrow “window” of runnable water levels and the Thunder Run is no exception. This means that when the river is too high or too low, we may need to modify our trip and run other stretches of the river other than the Thunder Run. Although we do our best to schedule these trips to coincide with traditional optimal flows, Mother Nature does not always cooperate. It may be necessary to change the structure of the trip with little or no prior notice. Please see the “Performance” section of these notes for specific details.

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After registering at our Campground, we will review safety issues relevant to running a river as difficult as the Thunder Run and to evaluate the ability of guests to deal with situations we might encounter. Guests will be asked to take our “Class V Paddler’s Evaluation”. This test will include basic swimming and safety exercises with a focus on stamina. After the test, we will head for the river. Guests who do not pass the Paddler’s Evaluation will be issued a full refund of trip fees paid to Mountain & River Adventures.



MEETING PLACE: Mountain & River Adventures

         Campground and Check-In Center
15775 Sierra Way

                                                                                   Kernville CA, 93238








From Southern or Northern California, take Hwy 99 to Bakersfield. Once in Bakersfield exit Hwy 178 East to Lake Isabella. At Lake Isabella, take the off ramp which reads “Highway 155-Kernville”. Turn left at the stop sign and travel around the lake (about 10 miles) to the stop sign and turn left on to Sierra Way. Travel north approximately 2.5 miles and look for our Campground at 15775 Sierra Way.

From Hwy 395, take Hwy 178 West. As you approach Lake Isabella from the East, look for the Kernville sign, turn right on Sierra Way and travel around the lake for approximately 13 miles and look for our Campground at 15775 Sierra Way; about 2.5 miles past the town of Kernville.




We take a break early in the afternoon, for a delicious, riverside, deli-style lunch.



The minimum age on our Thunder Run trips is 14 years old. This age limit is in place for the safety of your child, the safety of our other guests and our guides & can be changed to an older age restriction during high water levels.




Please do not bring alcohol on your trip. If we believe a guest is under the influence of alcohol or drugs they will not be allowed on the trip and will not be given a refund.



Guests sometimes ask whether gratuities are appropriate. If you enjoyed your trip, please feel free to leave a tip with your guide, the trip leader, or office/store personnel. Thanks!



Our guides are experienced, skilled whitewater boaters. They are knowledgeable about canyon ecology and natural history. Should the need arise they are trained to administer First Aid. Guides can also provide information on organizations that work to preserve and protect rivers and river canyons.



We furnish rugged inflatable rafts, 12 to 16 feet in length. We provide accessory river equipment, life vests, first aid and safety supplies. Do not bring your own life vest. Ours are approved for rafting and we require that they be worn by all guests. On most trips, the majority of passengers ride in paddleboats. A paddleboat is piloted by a guide, assisted by four to six passengers.


Safety helmets are available at no additional charge to guests joining us on any stretch of river that we run. Helmets are REQUIRED for our Class V trips and are strongly recommended on all stretches of the Kern, when rafting on water flows below 1,000 cubic feet per second. Clients expressly assume all risks associated with their refusal to use or properly use helmets or other safety equipment.



Our trips are conducted under permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service, Sequoia National Forest. Our permit is your assurance that Mountain & River Adventures is legally operating on the river. Our operations and facilities are operated on a nondiscriminatory basis.



Trip participants should understand that river trips involve known and unknown risks. Mountain & River Adventures assumes no responsibility for injuries, death or loss-damage to client’s property while on the river. All clients must sign a Participation Agreement, Release and Assumption of Risk expressly acknowledging these points. Mountain & River Adventures assumes no responsibility for vehicles and/or the contents of vehicles parked during the trip. Because of the risks associated with river trips, including personal injury, death, property loss or damage or financial loss in the event of trip cancellation, we urge all trip participants to supplement their own insurance with vacation/travel insurance such as



Our Kern River trips are fun, fast and challenging. To participate, you should be in good health. You may also need to perform certain physical activities. These include basic swimming; hiking in rugged or uneven terrain, climbing in or out of rafts and assisting in your rescue, if that becomes necessary. Please let us know when you return your Participant Agreement, if you have any health or dietary restrictions. We will gladly accommodate reasonable dietary restrictions with advanced notice.



It is sometimes necessary to cancel or modify a trip because of unusual circumstances beyond our control. We accept Thunder Run reservations with the understanding that water conditions and participant abilities may dictate that the trip be modified. If this is the case, we will run our Class III-IV Upper Kern trip, in lieu of the Class V Thunder Run on the same trip date. We will not reschedule your trip. Under these circumstances, the difference between the price of the two trips will be refunded. Mountain & River Adventures may make the decision to switch from a Thunder Run trip to an Upper Kern trip as late as the morning of departure. We cannot be responsible for paying expenses other than refunding all or part of the fees paid to Mountain & River Adventures. Determination of refunds (if any) will be made after reviewing trip details. Guides and other personnel employed by Mountain & River Adventures are not authorized to make or promise trip refunds or trip credits. Such determinations can only be made by company officers.



If you cancel, for any reason, less than 30 days prior to your trip date, you are not eligible for a refund or store credit. Written cancellation notice received by our office more than 30 days prior to the trip date will result in a refund of your deposit paid less a $15 per person processing fee. If you must cancel at the last minute, try to find a friend to take your place. Please read our Cancellation Policy that you received with your reservation confirmation.



We strongly recommend investing in this affordable coverage, which provides accident, illness, baggage, and trip cancellation protection such as Contact your insurance agent for more information.