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Home  > Play >  Travel

Go Kayaking
by Kyle Noone

Tucked in the wilds of the Sierra Nevada canyons lie unbound treasure of adventure and exploration. Ribbons of white and torrents of green slide past granite rocks standing like sentries guarding a secret passion for life

California offers some of the world's finest whitewater
Some other Golden State classics not to be missed:
Kern River
Kaweah River
Merced River
Middle Fork of the American
Smith
Cal Salmon

Whitewater boaters have long known of these treasures, and as the spring runoff hits, they gravitate toward the rivers with a gleam in their eyes and smiles barely contained under their brightly colored helmets.

Enlightened, these boaters seem.

Running a river is a perfect metaphor for life: at times a tumultuous cauldron of chaos and conflict, at times a pool of reflection and calm. Sometimes serene, sometimes violent but always moving. One is never quite sure what awaits around the next bend.

For a generation of seekers, a float down a river is more than a trip; it's a journey. And one of the best places on this planet to make the journey is California. The blissful equation of gradient plus water plus accessibility equals literally hundreds of runs. Simply figure out what kind of experience you seek mellow to hard and what kind of craft raft or kayak will get you there.

California whitewater is described as "pool drop," which means you typically run a rapid immediately followed by a calm recovery pool; the harder the section, the shorter the recovery time.

And the scenery is magnificent. Imagine house-size granite boulders, clear green water, steep hills blazing with spring flowers of every color, trout swimming in eddies, long beaches, ponderosa pines and sunsets that sparkle like diamonds in the current.

California whitewater also offers a history lesson. The towns that grew up next to the rivers were tough, gold rush towns and many still have that '49er spirit in attitude and architecture.

Selecting three rivers that embody all that is California whitewater is like picking the best three ski runs in the Alps. We took the plunge and narrowed the field. And in the Sierra, as the old saying goes, "It's all good."


Page:South Fork of the American River
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Related Stories
• North Fork of the American River
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• Is Kayaking For You?



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