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Rafting FAQ

 

Choosing My Trip

We have learned a lot since George Armstrong put his first raft into the Stanislaus River in 1962. Nearly 60 years of experience on California rivers means you will be getting a well organized, well executed, high quality rafting trip on any one of California’s 10 best rivers. Whether it is your first trip or your 100th trip, you will feel the difference that nearly six decades makes when it comes to rafting. Add to that our peace of mind Cancellation Policy, and our exclusive Frequent Floater Program (earn free trips!) makes All-Outdoors your best option for an all around amazing California rafting experience. We can’t wait to welcome you into the AO family!

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.

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. This is done electronically in advance of the trip. The information may be alternatively provided by filling out our Parent / Guardian Permission & Liability Release Form Form on paper.

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 and/or the river flows, the better shape participants should be in. Individuals that are exceptionally tall or whose height and weight ratio is out of range (overweight) 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.

Seasonal snowpack and weather can affect river flows. Participants rafting during period of higher flows should be competent swimmers, adventurous, active, not overweight. Usual minimum age may be increased on trips taking place at higher flows.

All guests are required to wear a life jacket provided by All-Outdoors. Due to sizing restrictions, persons with a chest or torso size over 52" (life jacket maximum size) cannot participate in an All-Outdoors rafting trip.

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 Consultants are experts at matching individuals and groups to the appropriate river.

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.

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!

How do we get to the rivers?

For directions, maps and driving times to the meeting place for your river trip, visit our Travel Information & What to Bring page..

 

Booking My Trip

Prices vary depending on the trip, itinerary, and day of the week. To view trip fees for all rivers, visit our Trip Pricing page. Our Discounts page lists cost-saving options, including discounts for groups and youths. Considering today's cost for hotels, airline flights and other vacation expenses, rafting represents an excellent value for travel and entertainment.

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!

You can make a reservation over the phone or online. Our California Rafting Consultants are available during business hours to help you plan and book your trip. Our online booking platform features real-time availability and most trips can be reserved online. Book your trip today!

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.

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.

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.

To provide flexibility and peace of mind, we have recently updated our Cancellation Policy. If your trip must be cancelled for any reason, you will receive a fully transferable 100% trip credit toward any future river trip. Guests cancelling their trip must notify us by phone or Live Chat during business hours, at least 3 days prior to the departure date.

 

Preparing for My Trip

The pandemic situation in California is improving and we are doing our part to contribute to this positive trend. See COVID Update: California Rafting in 2021 for the latest information on our current mitigation measures. Also, feel free to call us with any questions or concerns you might have.

A complete list of of what to bring and what to wear is located on each river's What to Bring page. Visit our Travel Information & What to Bring page to find a list of items for your specific river trip. If your trip takes place in spring, early summer, late fall, or at higher flows, also read about wetsuit information and review our additional layering tips for specific river attire items needed during that particular time.

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.

Vegetarians will find plenty of options on our standard meals. For more complex dietary needs please call us to review our meal plans.

Guests are not permitted to raft if under the influence of alcohol or other substances known to cause impairment. If either by direct observation or by exhibited behavior, staff believes someone to be impaired, that person will not be allowed to raft and no refund is provided.

On overnight trips, guests are more than welcome to bring their own alcohol in moderation for the evenings. All-Outdoors does not provide alcohol. For wilderness overnight trips - the Tuolumne and Middle Fork of the American - we provide an ice chest to transport guest beverages (if guests show up with excess alcohol, our guides will ask you to leave the excess in your car). For our South Fork American overnight trips, guests will have access to their vehicles and can store their beverages in their own ice chest. Again, alcohol is to be consumed in moderation.

For a list of local accommodations, as well as surrounding attractions, and local weather information for each river, visit our Travel Information & What to Bring page.

 

After My Trip

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.

A professional photography company may have shot pictures of the whitewater rafting trip you were on. View photo companies listed by river they operate on. You will be able to purchase your rafting trip photos directly from them.

Contact us if you have any additional questions.

If you'd like to share your experience with others (and us too), we invite you to post your review on our website or your review site of choice.

 

If you can't find the answers you need here, our Reservation office is open year-round and our California Rafting Consultants are available during business hours to help you with any questions you may have.

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