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Record Sierra Snowpack Promises Epic Whitewater Rafting Season
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 1 year ago on
April 14, 2023

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After suffering through the drought, some California outfitters are already treating clients to thrill-a-second adventures on the state’s rock-laden, fast-moving rivers.

Others, such as Kings River Expeditions, are waiting for the flows to drop a bit before starting a whitewater rafting season for the ages.

KRE begins Saturday, April 29, with one- and two-day trips starting from its Twin Pines Camp above Pine Flat Lake, about 90 minutes east of Fresno.

“The river is running much higher than it did in 2017, ” says KRE owner Casey Cornell, comparing this year to the state’s last previous year with heavy rains.

Cornell and his wife, Veronica, have guided trips on the Kings since 2011. They took over KRE from Justin and Julie Butchert, who operated it for 45 years.

Cornell says the “sweet season” will begin in July when rafters of all experience levels can enjoy what the Kings offers.

“I expect that the season will last into August and September, which is rare for the Kings,” he said.

To book a trip, use this link.

Veronica Cornell and Casey Cornell have been Kings River guides since 2011. (Kings River Expeditions)

Ample Choices for Whitewater Rafters

Whitewater rafters have plenty of options in California. Here’s a sampling of other outfitters navigating Valley rivers:

Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions offers trips on the Kings, Merced, Tuolumne, and American rivers.

The company is based in the Mother Lode community of Columbia. Its first trip down the Kings River is on April 27. Learn more at this link.

All Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting is licensed to run on 10 rivers. Among them are the Kaweah, Merced, Tuolumne, and north fork of the Stanislaus.

“2023 is going to be a great year for rafting: a deep Sierra snowpack and full reservoirs will provide us with a long, full season of whitewater rafting fun through October,” says the website of the outfitter based in Walnut Creek.

Watch: Spring Rafting Highlights

Kern River Outfitters is already hitting the whitewater. Matt Volpert, who runs the service, tweeted a video of a trip this week.

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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