River Journey is the only company on the Stanislaus to offer kayaking and it’s the closest summertime river kayaking to the San Francisco Bay Area! 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. Our high quality inflatable or hardshell kayaks make this trip a great experience for the beginner and seasoned kayaker, without having to haul your own gear! Trip includes your kayak for two people, lifejackets, paddles, a drybox for your belongings and a return shuttle. There is enough room for a small cooler or collapsable bag.
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.
1:00PM Lunch - Stop at Horseshoe Bend Park to eat your lunch alongside the river.
1:30PM - You'll head downstream into another scenic section of the trip.
3:00PM - Take-out and a short ride back to your car. During weekend dates you receive a free photo that can be found on our River Journey Facebook Page. We also have other photos available for purchase at the River Journey 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 kayaking tour?
The Stanislaus River has rafting nearly year round but our trips run from April through October. Early season has the best water flows and we have discounts for April and May trips.
- Do I have to know how to swim well?
No, Class II water does not require good swimming ability. A personal flotation device which we provide will keep you buoyant if you happen to swim from the kayak.
- Will I need a wetsuit?
We recommend a wetsuit for kayaks in spring. If you have a wetsuit please bring it. For summer and fall kayaking 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 kayak.
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, please bring snacks in a waterproof pack to stow on the kayak. Don't forget the water bottle too.
- 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.
- 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 May, the weather is usually perfect for kayaking.
- Can we request a guide?
If we have at least 2 weeks 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 kayaks can hold one small sized cooler. Oversized and wheeled coolers will not be allowed.
- Can we still kayak if we have young children (under 5 years)?
We recommend that only adults rent the kayaks. Kids under 10 would be better riding in a raft.
All of our trips include your single or double kayak, lifejacket, and paddle for each person.
WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR TRIP
* Food & drinks Including plenty of water (cans & plastic)
* Small six pack cooler (no large coolers)
* 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 was our first time kayaking and we had a blast. Mike gave us great instructions on how to paddle. It took a little time to get a feel for the kayak but we were ready by the time we reached the rapids. This definitely was a highlight of our Yosemite trip.
Samantha G- San Jose- 7/22/11
We just wanted to say thanks for giving us a great experience on the Stanislaus River. After rafting with you guys for the last 5 years we decided to try kayaking for the first time. My kids had a great time experiencing the river on their own and I enjoyed just floating on my own. A big thanks to Grant for putting us at ease with his safety talk and extra paddling instructions. He was very patient with us. Thanks again Dave, Grant, and everyone at River Journey.
Nicole S.- Modesto- 8/15/11