MRA’s Kern River story began, 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.
with owners John & Rhonda Stallone