The closest summertime rafting to the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Valley! You'll be surprised that such an entertaining river is located so close to home. This scenic float is just off the beaten path but it feels like you're in a different world, away from the hustle and stress of everyday life. The trip is wildly popular with experienced and inexperienced paddlers, especially on the weekends. This is due to the Stanislaus River's beautiful scenery, easy but fun rapids and ripples, great swimming holes and its close to home! This float trip is ideal for families, church and business groups, as well as boy scouts and other civic organizations. Trip is 4-6 hours total time.
Your trip starts off in the historic town of Knights Ferry just below the covered bridge, the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi. There you will check in with our friendly staff, receive your lifejackets, paddles, raft(s), and safety orientation. After you feel comfortable and ready for your trip you will float through the town and directly into the biggest rapids of the day. Make sure you are ready for the Class II RUSSIAN RAPIDS and make sure you smile for the camera as your fun action photographs are taken at this point. They will be available for purchase at the end of the trip in the rafters parking area or at our river store in Knights Ferry.
The next two miles you will float through some of the most stunning sections of the lower Stanislaus River. Here you will see basalt cliffs teaming with cliff swallows who migrate here in the spring. You will also go through a blue heron and turkey volture rookery and catch a glimpse of our trout, salmon and other fish through the clean, clear flowing pools.
At mile 3 you will be able to see the famous "Lover's Leap" on the left side of the river. On the right side of the river is the undeveloped Lovers Leap recreation area. There are no bathrooms or trash cans so please pack out what you bring in.
At mile 5 is one of two parks that you can stop and have a picnic lunch. The first is Horseshoe Park and at mile 6 is Honolulu Bar. They both have restrooms and picnic areas. We recommend that you bring a small or medium sized cooler with your lunch and refreshments so you can stop at one of these riverfront parks and enjoy a picnic lunch.
The last 3 miles have some small riffles and crystal clear pools to swim in. There are a lot of homes on this stretch so please remember not to trespass, no matter how tempting those rope swings and green lawns look. Orange Blossom Park is the ending point of our full day trip where our shuttle bus will take you back to your cars in Knights Ferry. Make sure you check out your photos available to purchase in the rafters parking lot or back in our river store in town.
11:00AM - Check in at the Knights Ferry Rafting Customers Parking Area. On weekends look for the red River Journey Tent. On weekdays look for us by the yellow rafts by the river.
11:15AM - After gearing up for the trip and a safety orientation you will board the rafts at the Knights Ferry Visitor's center. Our guides will prepare the equipment and begin a safety talk for all participants.
11:30AM - Trip departs on river. The first half mile serves as a nice warm-up with several fun riffles. You'll then come to "Russian Rapid" a 50 yard long class 2 rapid that is the biggest thrill of the day. Smile for your photos! After running this rapid you'll come across a few calm pools with clear water and stunning scenery.
1:30PM Lunch - Stop at Horseshoe Bend Park to eat your lunch alongside the river.
2:30PM - You'll head downstream into another scenic section of the trip.
5:00PM - Take-out and a short ride back to your car. Please remember the last shuttle leaves at 5:30pm! We will have your photos available to purchase at the parking lot and in our river store in Knights Ferry. Come by after your trip and enjoy and ice cream while you purchase other photos and river souvenirs. Our lower Stanislaus trips usually provide lots of good stories and memories for our guests!
Driving Directions to the Stanislaus River- See maps page for links.
From the San Francisco Bay Area: Take Highway 580 east towards Tracy, CA. 580 will merge into Highway 205 a few miles after you cross over the Altamont Pass. After you go through Tracy you will merge onto Interstate 5 north. Stay in the right lane. Go 1 mile after the merge and exit at Highway 120 east. This will take you to Manteca. From Manteca follow the highway 120 east signs to the Knights Ferry Exit (11 miles past Oakdale. Highway 120 takes many turns so please follow the signs closely. When you exit 120 left onto the frontage road (Kennedy Rd.) follow the signs to the Stanislaus River parks. We will meet you at the "Rafting Customer Parking Area" at the Stanislaus River Park.
Knights Ferry is on the north side of highway 120. Driving time: 2 hours from SF.
From Southern or Central California: Take Highway 99 north to the Highway 120 east exit at Manteca, CA. From Manteca follow the highway 120 east signs to the Knights Ferry Exit (11 miles past Oakdale. Highway 120 takes many turns so please follow the signs closely. When you exit 120 left onto the frontage road (Kennedy Rd.) follow the signs to the Stanislaus River parks. We will meet you at the "Rafting Customer Parking Area" at the Stanislaus River Park.
From Sacramento or Northen California: Take Highway 99 South to the Highway 120 east exit at Manteca, CA. From Manteca follow the highway 120 east signs to the Knights Ferry Exit (11 miles past Oakdale. Highway 120 takes many turns so please follow the signs closely. When you exit 120 left onto the frontage road (Kennedy Rd.) follow the signs to the Stanislaus River parks. We will meet you at the "Rafting Customer Parking Area" at the Stanislaus River Park.
From Yosemite National Park and Sonora CA: Take Highway 120 West to the Knights Ferry exit. Turn right onto Kennedy Road. Just past the "50's Road House" restaurant turn right on Sonora Road. Follow this to the Rafting Customer's Parking Area on the left just before you cross over the bridge.
Frequently asked questions
* When is the best time of the year to go on a Stanislaus River rafting tour?
The Stanislaus River has rafting nearly year round but our trips run from April through October. Early season has the best water flows.
* Do I have to know how to swim well?
We require that all participants must be able to swim. We do provide high quality lifejackets. We ask that they are worn at all times. If you cannot swim we recommend our guided trips.
* Will I need a wetsuit?
No, spring, summer and fall rafting on class II rivers does not require a wetsuit.
* What should I bring?
You need to bring shorts, swim suit, t-shirt, foot protection (old tennis shoes, booties or sport sandals), and a dry set of clothes for your ride home. Everything that you wear will get wet so plan accordingly. Please do not bring valuable items (i.e. expensive clothes or shoes, jewelry, non-waterproof cameras or other items) on the raft.
For camping trips bring all the camping equipment you need (even the kitchen sink if required) since our Stanislaus River campground has drive-in camping. We have lists of equipment recommended for all trips on our "what to bring" page for each trip. Do not bring pets to any of our trips.
* Is lunch provided?
Lunch is not provided on this trip
* How often do trips on the Stanislaus River run?
We run trips seven days a week from April through September on The Stanislaus River.
* How many people go with each trip?
During midweek we have smaller sized groups and the rivers are generally less crowded making the solitude of the trip much better than on weekends. On Saturdays weekends we generally book out so make your reservations as soon as possible. Sundays are usually less crowded than Saturdays. Early and late season are less busy than prime season. We can fit up to 8 people in each rafts although we do have a few 10 man rafts available.
* What if the weather is bad?
We will run in any condition of weather or may give everyone the option to take a rain-check credit if the weather is extremely unpleasant at the check-in point. After April, the weather is usually perfect for rafting.
* Can we request a guide?
If we have at least 1 week notice we will make every effort possible to schedule a guide for an extra charge.
* Is there a limit on what we can take?
The rafts can hold one medium sized cooler. Oversized and wheeled coolers will not be allowed.
* Can we still raft if we have young children (under 5 years)?
All of our trips are for ages 5 and older.
All of our trips include your raft, lifejacket, and paddle for each person. Shuttle ride and safety orientation also included.
WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR TRIP
* Food & drinks Including plenty of water (cans & plastic) NO GLASS BOTTLES!
* Small to medium sized cooler (no large wheeled coolers allowed)
* Tennis shoes or sandals
* Swimsuit, shorts & a tee-shirt
* Trash Bag
WHAT NOT TO BRING ON YOUR TRIP
* Cell phones
* Automatic door openers
* Anything you don’t want to lose or get wet
* Glass bottles
* Styrofoam coolers
Places to stay near the Stanislaus River
Knights Ferry has only one campground that is run by River Journey and is exclusive for our rafting guests only. (Regardless of what the internet says as Knightsferrycamping.com does not exist anymore.) Please call for reservations.
Lodging is available in Oakdale, California which is about 10 miles away. We are a one hour drive from Yosemite National Park which provides camping and lodging in a spectacular setting.
* Stanislaus River Campground - Knights Ferry
* Yosemite National Park Camping
* Holiday Inn - Oakdale
This is very well organized. The staff is very helpful and friendly. It's is a pretty easy float and very kid friendly. Be prepared to get soaked and make sure to come equipped with super soakers. The water was pretty low and not moving very fast when I went so we definitely had to paddle hard! It makes for a decent upper body workout! It's great that they provide transportation back to your vehicle. Overall pretty fun!:)
Jen G. Modesto, CA 8/18/2010 (from Yelp)
Great fun and definitely not as crowded as the American River in Sacramento so that's a major plus. Check out River Journey for all rentals http://www.riverjourne.... It's a very chill river and is a great way to spend about 2-3 hours on a hot day for about $20 and comes with a shuttle ride back to your starting point.
Margaret N. Sunnyvale, CA 3/2/2010 (from Yelp)