FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ACTIVITIES AND CAMPING
Can you accomodate 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 760-376-6553 for more detailed information.
How old do I need to be to 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
Minimum Age 9-12
Minimum Age 5 years old and 50 pounds
Who can go white water rafting?
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.
What is the difference in the stretches of the Kern River?
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.
Is there a difficulty rating for the different sections of the Kern River?
Yes! The different sections have different levels of difficulty, also known as classifications. Our company rafts all available classifications along the Kern River. Here is a list of the different sections with descriptions of their ratings.
Family friendly for ages 5 (and 50 lbs) and up.
Class I-III: Float trip on moving water with some obstacles like waves and/or rocks that are can be easily avoided. Anyone five years old + fifty pounds can go.
Lower Kern Class III Section:
Family friendly for ages 10 and up.
Class III: Plenty of waves, big and small; exposed rocks; and rapids with clear yet sometimes narrow routes that require maneuverability in order to negotiate.
Lower and Upper Kern Class IV Sections:
Adventurous begginers to intermediate rafters ages 10-12 and up.
Class IV: Longer rapids with bigger drops and more obstacles. Narrower routes that require precise maneuvering and power in order to negotiate.
Upper Kern Class V, Thunder Run, Forks of the Kern:
Advanced to expert for ages 14-16 and up
Class V: Most difficult whitewater that can be run. Rapids are long and may have many parts. Drops are more frequent and powerful. Often only one viable route that requires strength, precision, and skillful boat maneuvering in order to negotiate successfully. All guests have previous whitewater paddling experience and pass pre-trip swim test.
When is the best time of year to go rafting?
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 should I wear on the river?
Dress with both the water temperature and the air temperature in mind, since you’ll be getting wet. In the warm weather of summer, shorts and a t-shirt are great. In the spring time and on cooler days (and always on Class V rivers), we require wetsuits or wet suit/paddle jacket combinations. Ask us about renting wetsuits when you call to book your trip. For extra warmth on cool days, it is a good idea to bring some synthetic fleece, polypro, Capilene, or wool garments. In cold weather don’t wear cotton. Wet cotton saps heat, while fleece, poly, wool, and similar fabrics provide insulation even when wet.
Shoes: Tennis shoes or a fully enclosed type of athletic shoe provide the best foot protection on the river. Wetsuit booties are excellent. Teva sandals and other strap-on sandals work well in warmer weather, but do not offer as much foot protection.
Sunglasses: If you wear prescription glasses an eye glass retainer such as Chums work well to prevent loss of your glasses. Instead of contact lenses, it is better to wear an old pair of glasses with a retainer.
Sunscreen: Use sunscreen, especially on the tops of upper legs, shoulders, back of neck and top of nose. Sunscreen applied on your forehead may run into your eyes when you get wet. Also applying sunscreen on the backs of your legs may cause you to slip around in the boat. Protect your forehead, face and back of neck with a hat secured by a hat clip.
What happens on a raft trip?
You’ll meet your trip leader at your trip’s designated meeting place and time. He or she will collect your release forms, distribute life jackets and wetsuits, if you rent them from us, and invite everyone to join him or her on our shuttle bus.
After a fun shuttle ride, we arrive at our riverside raft “put-in” location where the trip leader will issue you a paddle and (if you are on a Class IV+ or V trip) a helmet. You will then listen to our 30-40 minute instructional “safety talk” about how you, your paddle crew and your guide will work together as a team on the water. Then you and your friends will head to your boat!
On most of our trips we run paddle boats or oar-paddle combination boats. You will be paddling with the rest of your crew to power your boat down the river. The boats typically seat six to eight people and a guide. Before you leave shore, our guides will instruct you on efficient paddling technique. Once in the boat, your crew will push off on the water where your guide will give you further instruction on how to follow his or her speed and turning commands. Then you’ll head down river to make some wonderful memories!
Should I tip my guide?
Guests often ask if it is okay to leave a gratuity for their guide at the end of the trip. If you believe your guide was exceptional, you should feel free to give him/her a token of your appreciation. A typical gratuity is between 10% and 15% of the trip fare, and guides are appreciative of any amount. Our guides typically pool their gratuities at the end of each trip.
Who guides the boats?
Our guides are a fantastic group of outdoor professionals that have a passion for the Kern River and love sharing the experience of a whitewater trip with our guests. Some of them have moved on to other professions but still continue to guide part-time. Our guides are expertly trained boaters and hold certifications in First Aid and Swift Water Rescue. Many have advanced Wilderness First Aid and Swift Water training. Our guides are friendly, entertaining, knowledgeable, and a joy to be around.
Should I purchase Travel Insurance?
It is a great idea to purchase travel insurance when you make your reservation! Although cancellations are rare, our cancellation policy is firm and travel insurance may protect you from a loss of fees paid in the event of an unexpected cancellation. Talk with your local travel agent about purchasing this type of insurance, or consider using a company like TravelGuard.com.
Do I need a reservation, and if so, when should I reserve?
Make reservations early in the year because space is limited and some trips fill up more than six months in advance. It is best to make reservations as early as possible. We've made online reservations very easy, simply click on the rafting tour you are interested in and our reservation system will walk you through it! However, if you should wish to join a trip on short notice, please give us a call, there may be an opening.
Is rafting dangerous?
Rafting is thrilling, exciting, wet, wild, and incredibly fun. That said, as with all outdoor adventure activities, rafting involves an element of inherent risk. Our guides are trained to minimize these risks, and, statistically, rafting is far safer than many other outdoor sports. The most common injury on most rafting trips is sunburn, and most other injuries occur on land, especially when getting into and out of the boats.
How do I make a reservation and what is your cancellation policy?
You can book online by clicking or tapping any one of our "Book Now" buttons on our website. If you are having difficulty booking through our website or if you want to chat with us before making your decision, please feel free to call us anytime at: 760-376-6553.
Mountain & River Adventures Cancellation Policy:
CANCELLATION Policy for Activities*
30 or more days prior to your activity Trip credit on deposit paid, less a $15/person fee
29 to 15 days prior to your activity Trip credit on deposit paid, less a $25/person fee
14 to 0 days prior to your activity No refund or credit.
Late arrivals or no shows No refund or credit.
Our accepted payment forms include check, money order or credit card. A $35/person deposit is required at the time of booking, of which $15/person is non-refundable; and final balance is due 30-days prior to your rafting/activity date. Payment of your reservation establishes your acceptance of our Cancellation & Deposit policy. Policy follows participant numbers provided at the time of initial deposit.
Cancelling your trip after your payment has processed will incur cancellation fees because MRA has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we are holding for you.
If you cancel a rafting/activity tour — If for any reason, you need to cancel your activity, less than 15-days prior to your activity date, your reservation is non-refundable, and there are no credits. We suggest you find a friend to take your place. Due to expenses incurred and limited spaces, we do not offer refunds. We regret we cannot make exceptions to this cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, personal emergencies or pandemics. There is no refund/credit for arriving late or leaving a trip early. We recommend that you purchase a travel protection plan.
If MRA has to cancel your rafting tour — If a trip must be cancelled or postponed due to factors outside our control, MRA will provide a credit for deposits received toward future tours, less a 5% processing fee. MRA is not responsible for expenses incurred by guests in preparation for a cancelled trip. We do our best to notify you as early on as possible; and this is a pretty rare occurrence. MRA reserves the right to adjust/change your tour, to a comparable tour, based on water levels and safety.
Cancellation Policy – Camping Reservations
All camping reservations are considered final. Camping reservations require payment in full now. Payment of your reservation establishes your acceptance of our Cancellation policy.
If you cancel your camping reservation — Credits are not available if you choose not to fulfill your agreement, are asked to leave, show up on the wrong date, do not make proper notification, or fail to show up. We regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, personal emergencies or pandemics.
In the case of an accidental overbooking, if we cannot offer you a comparable site, we will provide a full camping refund, or, a gift card in the amount you paid.We strongly recommend that you purchase a travel protection plan for all reservations.
Are the campground showers coin operated?
Yes! It is our mission to conserve water. Our showers are coin-operated and take quarters. There is a change machine located near the restroom entrance for your convenience. The shower takes 4 quarters for 4 mintues, with an additional minute for each additional quarter.
Can we have a campfire in our campsite?
Yes! We have fire pits in each campsite. Please enjoy them responsibly. See our Camp Host to purchase campfire wood on-site when you arrive.
Where can I get firewood and ice for my campsite?
Our Camp Host has bags of ice and bundles of firewood for $5-$7 each. No need to leave camp! We request that all wood burned in our campground be locally sourced, as bringing wood from other areas can introduce invasive species or pests with it. If you do not purchase wood from our Camp Host, please be sure to purchase it locally.
Can we fish at the campground?
Yes! If you are a guest of Mountain & River Campground and you have a fishing permit, we encourage you to fish from our campground.
What is there to do while camping at Mountain & River Adventures?
Other than roasting smores and relaxing under the stars, our campground also has fun activities. Available at no extra cost, we have a volley ball court, shuffle board, horseshoes, cornhole, and giant connect 4!
Browse our souvenir shop for a cool Kern River hat, t-shirt, magnet, sticker or memory photo!
If you want something a little more adventureous, we also offer
Kids Adventure Camps, climbing, lake kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and rental equipment that can be added to your reservation at an additional charge. Ask us about bundling to save!
Is there a place to swim near the campground?
Yes! At the North side of our campground, there is a trail leading to a swimming hole at Riverkern Beach. Enjoy the sandy bank, beautiful wildlife, and brisk cool water! We recommend that children wear life jackets when swimming in the Kern. Please ask us about our free life jacket rentals.