Rafting FAQ


If you can't find the answers you need here, our Reservation office is open year-round to provide the person to person contact you won't find anywhere else. For business hours and contact information, Contact Us.

Why Choose All-Outdoors?

Over 50 years of experience, professional guides, great food, many trip options and incredible discounts makes All-Outdoors the best whitewater rafting outfitter in California. If you want to raft with the best, choose All-Outdoors.

Who can go on a whitewater rafting trip?

From a "lazy day of summer" on a Tom Sawyer Float Trip on the South Fork American to the "adrenaline rush" of Cherry Creek, All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting offers a river trip to satisfy every individuals needs. We welcome anyone, young and old, in reasonable physical condition. The more advanced the trip, the more athletically aggressive and confident a guest should be.

Is there a minimum age recommendation?  

Each river has a usual minimum recommended age. During summertime flows, the minimum age is 8 years old on Class III sections of the South Fork of the American and 5 years old on the Class I-II section. A minimum age of 12 is recommended on the Middle Fork of the American and Merced, and 13 years old on the Tuolumne in summer. In the spring, trips on the Tuolumne, the recommended age is 15 years old along with our other Class IV springtime trips. All rivers may require increased minimum age requirements as the level of difficulty increases. The recommended minimum age on Cherry Creek is 17 years.

A parent or guardian must give permission for an unaccompanied minor (aged 17 years or younger) to participate in an All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting river trip and pre-sign our Liability Release form. Please refer to our Parent Permission Form for instructions about these two documents.

Do I need to know how to swim? Do I need to be in shape? Does height and weight matter?

Each participant should be able to swim and select a trip that's right for his or her level of fitness. The higher the classification, the better shape participants should be in. Individuals that are exceptionally tall or whose height and weight ratio is out of range may not be appropriate for rafting due to the inherent nature of the activity. If you are unsure how to evaluate your abilities and size, have special health physical considerations, or are pregnant, we invite you to call our office to discuss options.

Persons with a chest or torso size over 52" (life jacket maximize size) cannot participate in an All-Outdoors rafting trip.

"Can you accommodate special diets?

Vegetarians will find plenty of options on our standard meals. For more complex dietary needs please call us to review our meal plans and any accommodations we are able to make for you.

How much do trips cost?

Prices vary depending on the trip, itinerary, and day of the week. Pricing can be found here and through each Home River page. Visit our Discounts page for a list of cost-saving options, including Rapid Deals on specific itineraries during the season, discounts for groups and families, and more. Considering today's cost for hotels, airline flights and other vacation expenses, rafting represents an excellent value for travel and entertainment. To view trip fees for all rivers, visit our Trip Pricing page.

Which river trip is best for us?

Each river we raft is unique. Beginners and adventurers alike may find what they are looking for on one of the California classics: the South & Middle Forks of the American River. The Merced, Kaweah and North Fork of the Stanislaus are favorites among the Class IV+ crowd. For exciting Class IV+ -V whitewater and wilderness, it's hard to beat the Tuolumne and Cherry Creek.

Take some time to look at our 10 California Rivers. You will find a description for each river with links to maps and travel details, videos, and great photos. Keep in mind the paddling skills and physical abilities of each member of your group. If you have more questions call our office at (800) 247-2387. Our staff of California rafting specialists are experts at matching individuals and groups to the appropriate river.

What do the different river ratings mean?

Whitewater rafting rivers are rated on difficulty scale of Class I (flatwater) to Class VI (unrunnable). For a description of each difficulty level, visit our river ratings page.

Can I bring a camera on the rafts?

You are welcome to bring a camera but be aware that they are at risk of being damaged and/or lost. Bringing a strap to secure them to PFDs is wise. We offer the use of dry bags but they are not 100% waterproof and offer no impact protection. Go-Pro cameras are also welcome and can be attached to our helmets. Again, bring them at your own risk.

What's the best time of year to go rafting?

All-Outdoors offers daily departures 7 days a week between the months of April and October. We also offer Express trips on the South Fork American year round. If you look good in a wetsuit, and you are looking for the excitement of "high water" adventure, springtime is historically the season that California rivers "peak". Summertime is the most popular season for rafting, when the rivers are running on a regular release, and the temperature goes up, allowing us to trade in our wetsuits for T-shirts and shorts. Fall and Winter rafting is also available on the South Fork American for those that can't wait until Spring or Summer!

When should I make a reservation?

Certain days during the season sell out quickly, so we encourage calling our Reservation office to check for availability. While reservations are required in advance to participate on a rafting trip, we are always busy taking last-minute bookings up to a day or two before a trip. As long as there is available space, we are happy to help you get on the river - even at the last minute!

How do I make a reservation?

You can make a reservation over the phone or request a reservation online. Start at our Reservation Info page for details about making a reservation, online reservation and payment forms, and to view our cancellation policy, or contact us.

Which rivers are close to where I live?

Our map of California Rivers provides a complete list of rivers we run.  We've also provided information for driving distances from the following locations:

Northern California
Fresno, Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, Monterey, Davis, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Pleasanton, Napa Valley, Gold Country, Wine Country, Sierra Foothills, Northern Sierra Nevada, Placer County, El Dorado County, Nevada County, Placerville, Coloma and Reno, Nevada

Southern California
San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

How do we get to the rivers?

For directions, maps and driving times to the meeting place for your river trip, visit our "Travel Details & Maps" directory.

Nearby lodging?

For a list of local accommodations, as well as surrounding attractions, and local weather information for each river, visit our Maps & Travel Details page.

How many people fit in a boat?

If you are rafting on the South Fork of the American, our boats can comfortably accommodate up to 8 guests plus their guide. However, all other rivers require the use of smaller boats that can negotiate the tighter chutes and rapids typical of Class IV & V rafting. Most of these boats can accommodate 5 or 6 guests, plus a guide. For more info about the boats we use, visit our Rafting Equipment page.

Can I reserve my own boat?

Reservations are based on available space in each boat. Private Charter Trips and reserved boat options can be made available in special circumstances. Our staff of guides will keep parties together whenever possible. Please direct special requests to our office in advance.

What should I wear?

A complete list of of what to bring and what to wear is located on each "Maps & Travel Details" page to find the items necessary  . If you are picking a springtime trip, be sure to read about wetsuit information. Visit our "Maps & Travel Details page to find a complete list of items for your specific river trip.

Can I request my guide?

Our guides are professionals in their field, and requests for a specific guide are not uncommon. If you have had a guide you especially liked, and would like to have them guide your next trip, we will do our best to match their schedule to yours. Simply request your guide when you make your reservation.

Alcohol on trips?

By law we are not allowed to serve alcohol, but you are welcome to bring your own on multi-day trips. For wilderness trips a moderate amount can be brought in our coolers (subject to guide discretion and available space) but it cannot be in glass containers. You may bring what you wish (although moderation is still expected and encouraged) for car-access overnight trips.

Should I tip my guide?

Many of our guests ask us, "should I tip my guide?". Our high level of service is not exercised in order to receive a tip. We serve you because we want to. If you feel the service you received from your guide is exceptional, and you want to say "thank you" with a tip, although it is not expected, it is always appreciated.

If you have additional questions, or would like to request a free Guide to California Rivers or call us at (800) 247-2387.