Kern River Rafting

World-Class Southern California rafting near Los Angeles

The Kern River is a world-class playground for rafting and outdoor adventure in the Los Angeles area’s backyard. The river combines world-class whitewater, beautiful stretches of high desert canyon cutting through the Sierra foothills, and a staggering number of rafting options ranging from mild class III half-day runs to the most spectacular Class V wilderness trip in the West. The Kern is not only the closest rafting to Los Angeles and Southern California, it also offers some of the world’s best whitewater.

Why Momentum On The Kern

Momentum is a small guide-owned & operated company, allowing us to focus our energy, experience, and passion for guiding into every trip we run.

Our Kern Rafting trips are done with our signature style, attention to detail, and handcrafted quality. We focus on smaller trips, comfortable and innovative wilderness camping – including our award winning base camps, creative menus, personal service and hospitality, one of the most experienced (and friendly) guide staffs in the world, and with all the little details and touches we are known for.

If you are a first timer to Momentum you can find out more about us by checking out our owner’s Welcome Letter and the Why Momentum page. The Kern is a living piece of whitewater history and we are honored to show it to people and bring our own little twists and touches to trips.

The pioneering river runners who wrote the book ‘Western Whitewater’ said it best –  “The Kern is a mountain river on the edge of the desert.” Flowing south from Mt Whitney, the tallest peak in the Continental U.S., the Kern tumbles through the Southern Sierra before turning West and flowing into the San Joaquin Valley. Death Valley and the Mojave Desert are both less than 60 miles away, but the river itself cuts through the snowy peaks and giant forests of Sequoia National Park. It is a truly unique landscape and a side of California that few get to see.

California is known for world-class whitewater, and with its granite gorges, big clean drops, and smooth boulders the Kern is quintessential California whitewater.  And it’s whitewater is steeped in river running history – a place where river runners pushed the sport to new heights, raising the bar for what can be navigated. Today the Kern offers a tremendous variety of trips, from the famous ‘Forks of the Kern” – perhaps the world’s greatest class V wilderness trip – to the easily accessible and varied stretches of the Upper Kern, to the classic whitewater of Lower Kern.

Although the Kern is a wild river with very remote sections,  it is remarkably accessible. It’s a short 3 hour drive from the Los Angeles area, 4 hours from Palm Springs, and there are direct flights to nearby Bakersfield from cities like San Francisco, Phoenix, and Denver. River trips can be combined with time exploring Historic Kernville and Sequoia National Park, as well as enjoying world class fly fishing, hiking, and mountain biking.

We offer a huge range of options on the Kern. From mild class III 1/2 day trips that are a perfect introduction to whitewater, to one of the West’s best summer 1-day trips, to 3-day journeys down the Class V Forks of the Kern, to our 2-Day Kern River Safari, which combines Class IV excitement with a comfortable night in our award-winning safari-inspired riverside camp. And all are done with our signature style, attention to detail, and handcrafted quality.

Kern River Rafting Trip Options

Recent Testimonials

  • "I've never experienced anything where I can honestly say that every single touchpoint exceeded our expectations and was a delight. Even as we were being dropped off at the end of our trip, Glen was checking whether we needed advice about to where eat that night! We have just arrived home in England and we are still talking about it ( and how can we possibly do it again ) There was nothing that was too much trouble and the team just worked so hard to make it an unforgettable experience." - Julie
  • "The trip was superb, the guides were superb, the whole experience was wonderful. We are already talking about taking another Momentum trip next season. For me, the only thing weird is that I'm not used to being a guest on camping trips! I'm used to being put to work, so it felt a little strange to be waited upon, have drinks made for me, and otherwise be totally spoiled. The whole operation seemed like a well-oiled machine, however. And it was an absolute joy to be a part of it. Thank you for such a brilliant time." - Danielle
  • "This really was an adventure of a lifetime and blew away my expectations!" - Justin
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