White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River
White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River
White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River

White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River

White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River

Just five hours from San Diego, the Lower Kern is a superb rafting challenge. Our two-day trip originates below Lake Isabella and ends at Democrat Beach, a distance of 20 miles. The river flows southwest through a gorge forested with willows, cottonwood, sycamore and alder. Our trip starts at a leisurely pace then quickens as the canyon steepens. Both days feature stretches of Class III and Class IV rapids. Our Two-Day Trip is not only full of adventure & beautiful scenery but it also is a great time to bond through teamwork with your friends & fellow trip members. Your white water experience will truly be memorable.

“The trip was definitely a unique once in a lifetime experience and a great way to make friends”

“This was my first time ever doing a trip like this and I felt extremely safe and encouraged by the leaders. I will be attending more Aztec Adventures trips and will highly recommend them to others!”

“It’s a beautiful explosion of greatness”

“Not only was it fun, but it gave me a chance to visit part of the outdoors in a way that I probably never would’ve seen, if I was on my own”


White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River

Pre-Trip Meeting

Pre-Trip Meetings are required and are held the Monday, the week of your trip, from 6-7:30pm in the AMC rooms, right outside the ARC. You will meet the leaders and other trip members, as well as cover all details such as weather, menu, safety issues, and clothing requirements. You will also be issued all of your equipment at this time (sleeping bags, pad, tent, etc.).

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Day 1: Depart San Diego at 2pm and drive to Kern River stopping for gas and snacks along the way. Arrive at Mountain & Rivers Adventures campground at 6:30pm—quickly set up tents and store gear. Then it’s back into town for dinner at a local Restaurant. After dinner, drive three miles back to camp and enjoy a campfire with gourmet s’mores and continue to socialize until camp quiet hours are imposed.

Day 2: Wake up 6am; shower if you want and enjoy a hearty breakfast at our campsite. Take down tents and separate camping gear from paddling gear. All camping gear (tents, sleeping bags, pads, clothing, etc.) will be sent via trailer down to our river campsite and will be waiting when we arrive via raft at the end of the day.

From our campground, we will take you by bus to the put-in site on the river.  Before getting in the rafts, the Trip Leader and Raft Guides will provide instruction on paddling techniques, whitewater safety and general procedures.

For the first few miles the Kern is gentle and ideal for practicing the skills we will need to navigate the rapids downstream. By the time we stop for lunch, you will be familiar with rafting techniques and quite comfortable. After lunch the rapids get bigger and your new skills will be tested. Our camp site is just below "Powerful Possum", a Class IV rapid that is one of the biggest on the Lower Kern.

We usually arrive at camp around 4:00 P.M. Your overnight gear will be there and the guides will help you select a tent site. Snacks and cold drinks will be available shortly after arrival. Before dinner, hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Day 3: Our third day begins with a hearty breakfast. Afterwards, personal gear is repacked, the camp cleaned up, and we are ready for another river day. After portaging Royal Flush-a dangerous Class V rapid, we stop for lunch and get fired up for a series of Class IV rapids called "The Big Five". The rapids come close together and we end our day navigating Pinball, an intricate, demanding rapid. At Democrat Beach the river portion of our trip ends and our bus takes us back to Mountain & Rivers campground.

After everyone has showered, and tipped our raft guides, we will hit the road for San Diego. If all goes well, and our dinner stop is quick, we should be home before 11:30pm.

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White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River

Packing List

We are limited on space, and the less stuff you bring, the less you have to carry around. Ask yourself…What would I want in the coldest weather or the hottest weather? Pack to be prepared for both!

Things that should be packed inside your personal day pack and kept with you inside the van:

  • Small day pack
  • A warm layer
  • Headlamp
  • Travel size pillow
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Camera
  • Personal expenses will include approximately two meals on the road or in town, favorite snacks, any desired gifts and gratuities to our Mountain & River Adventures Raft Guides. We suggest approximately $20-40 total for the raft guides.


  • Sunglasses w/retainer strap
  • Personal stuff- extra contact lenses, chap-stick, Waterproof sunscreen, baby wipes, baby powder, ear plugs, hand lotion, medications you usually take…
  • Water bottle with clip or strap that can be attached to raft
  • Towel-showers will be available all but one night


  • Wide brimmed shade hat
  • Beanie/ stocking cap
  • Bandana
  • Cotton or synthetic blend hiking shirt (breathable layer)
  • Cotton or synthetic camp shirt (a clean shirt to wear at camp)
  • Synthetic Long Sleeve Top(s) – Polypro, Capilene, or polyester.
  • Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Sports bra
  • Windbreaker
  • Rash guard
  • Spray Jacket
  • Nylon shorts
  • Light weight long pants/ cotton or synthetic hiking pants
  • Rain Pants (Aztec Adventures can provide this if you don’t have your own!)
  • Sweatpants
  • Underwear
  • Synthetic long underwear (top & bottom)
  • Swimwear or clothing made for water
  • Gloves
FEET: No Flip Flops!!!!
  • Water shoes that are fully enclosed or sandals that have an ankle strap and will not come off while swimming

Keep in mind that when there are 100 degree temperatures, it may be too hot to sleep in a tent.  Aztec Adventures will provide sleeping pads, ground tarps, and sleeping bags.  A cotton sheet from home is highly recommended. 

Please leave these items at home:  Radios, firearms, pets or valuables that can be lost or damaged by water

Personal Equipment Provided by Aztec Adventures:

  • 20˚ sleeping bag and Thermarest sleeping pad
  • Ground Tarp
  • Tent with rain fly (sleeps 2-3)
  • Head lamp
  • Camp chair
  • Rain gear (if you don’t have your own)
  • Coffee mug, bowl, and utensils
  • Pack Bag: to hold all of the above items PLUS your personal gear and clothes
White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River

Physical Challenge

White water rafting can be very demanding as each individual will need to use their upper body strength to propel the raft forward or back through Class III & IV rapids.  Our leg muscles will also get a workout as they will be braced against and under the tubes in the raft.   In addition, we will be carrying the rafts approximately one hundred yards (portaging) around a dangerous Class V rapid.  Each raft will weigh in excess of 100 pounds.  In the event of a raft capsize or falling from the raft it will require very aggressive swimming towards safety in cold turbulent water which requires the use of every muscle in one’s body.

RATING 2.5 out of 3

You should expect two full days of physically challenging paddling.  We will be on the river for upwards of six hours each day. Pace of travel is moderate to vigorous depending on the rapids. An individual in good to strong physical condition is required as the activity requires a focus on core and upper body strength, not necessarily your arms.

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White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River

Risks/ Hazards/ Safety

Cold, fast, turbulent water—Class III and IV rapids.  Paddling hard and doing exactly what the raft guide tells you are key to staying in the raft.  In the event of capsize or falling from the raft one is at risk of drowning, hypothermia, foot entrapment, bruises and scrapes from submerged rocks, branches and other obstacles.  On the shoreline poison oak, slippery rocks, and biting/stinging insects.  In camp, steep terrain, scalding hot coffee, campfire embers, and sugary desserts.  Safety awareness is the key to successful and enjoyable rafting and all trip leaders and raft guides make every attempt to be vigilant.

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White Water Rafting, Lower Kern River

Hygiene & Comfort

There will be showers and comfortable bathroom facilities on our first night/morning and after we get off the river on our final day.  At our river campsite we will have porta-potties that are well maintained with hand washing stations.  Sleeping bags, foam pads, tents, etc. will be provided to cushion ourselves from the sandy soil.

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