Kaweah River Whitewater Rafting in Three Rivers
Photo © Sylvia Durando, used with her permission
The Kaweah River is fed by snow melt from the 12,000' elevation mountains in Sequoia National Park, and offers some of the finest whitewater rafting in Central and Southern California. It is one of America's steepest rivers, dropping at 85 feet per mile in its first few miles. The Kaweah River is suitable for the intermediate and expert whitewater rafter who is hardy, adventurous, in good physical condition and has good swimming ability. Previous paddling experience is preferred due to the non-stop action.
The access used for put-in is just below the entrance of the East Fork Kaweah River and is almost a mile further upstream than the put-in used by most outfitters. This gives an additional 3 rapids. 'Gateway Rapid' is a 250 yard Class 4 boulder slalom, followed by a Class 4 ten foot drop called 'The Chute', and then 'Osterizer', another Class 4 rapid. Many more wild rapids follow like 'Willows', 'Bumper', 'Powerhouse', 'Suicide Falls' and others. After a calm stretch through the town of Three Rivers and a stop for lunch, the pace picks up again as we take on the 'Slickies', (a unique river feature you will always remember) which is a polished granite slalom that surfs one way, then another, while swirling around. The two biggest drops, Upper Slicky and Lower Slicky, are about a hundred yards apart.
During the early season high flows there are some rapids that may require portaging, but the Kaweah River is free-flowing so the season depends on the snow pack. The scenery is good, and though there are private residences and the highway alongside for much of the run, they are not obtrusive.
With Southern California close by, the Kaweah River offers a great opportunity to combine a whitewater adventure with an excursion to the majestic trees and mountains of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The town of Three Rivers, founded as an idealist colony in the 1880s, features a fine array of eateries and galleries and is strung out along the Kaweah River. There are campgrounds and accommodations available in nearby Sequoia National Park, as well as many options in Three Rivers.
For more information about Whitewater Rafting on the Kaweah River, please visit www.kaweahwhitewater.com.
Typical Class of Water: Classes 3, 4 and 5
Every year, April through June.
The access used for put-in is just below the entrance of the East Fork Kaweah River and is almost a mile further upstream than the put-in used by most outfitters. This gives an additional 3 rapids.