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FarOut created the Kern River Whitewater Guide in partnership with This guide is broken into three sections. There is the  Upper Kern River, Lower Kern River, and Forks of the Kern River. Snow melting from Mount Whitney and then flowing down forms the Kern river. The Upper Kern section begins at Johnsondale Bridge and ends at Lake Isabella. This part of the Kern river is well known for two reasons. The Upper Kern has plentiful access and a variety of whitewater from Class II to Class V.

When winter ends and spring begins the water begins to the flow. As a result the Lower Kern begins to flow. In regular years the season is from May through August. You will likely experience warmer than expected water because the source of water is from Isabella Lake. Lake Isabella is relatively shallow.  This causes water to easily warm up and not be frigid. Top to bottom this river section is straight forward class II through IV. However, there is one portage around a Class VI, the Royal Flush.

When the water is right, the Kern presents some of the most scenic and fun boating in the West. Unimpeded by dams, the flows are highly variable year to year. Therefore, it is hard to predict best times for a trip as it is snowpack and subsequent melt dependent. However, when the Forks is flowing, the water is clear, cool, and full of big, fun whitewater. Top to bottom this river section contains stout class IV, the occasional class V, and very little downtime.


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About Our Partner

In 2020, Matt Volpert, Byron Roos-Collins, and Augie Houlemard joined together to form . The three launched the project to publish detailed whitewater rafting and kayaking guidebooks for rivers around the globe. By pairing extensive professional guiding and expedition experience the team has created modern guidebooks for many popular rivers. Whitewater excursions, whether single-day or multi-day, involve a significant amount of variables to be run safely, efficiently, and enjoyably. These are the factors that have driven the clear, and information-filled design of Gorafting’s guidebooks. The team is thrilled to partner with FarOut to take their whitewater guidebooks offline. Augie, Byron, and Matt spend most of their free time on river trips. So if you see them on the water say hello!

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