Stanislaus River - Guided Trip
The closest summertime rafting 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 on an exotic adventure. The trip starts off with a short warm-up through several easy rapids. You'll hone our paddling skills quickly since "Russian Rapid " is right around the bend. This lively class 2 rapid is biggest on the river. Plan to get splashed as you float through these "haystack" waves!
The next 2 mile section of river is very scenic so enjoy the view as you paddle through a beautiful section of river which has towering basalt walls, fig trees and deep clear pools teaming with trout and salmon in the springtime.
The Stanislaus River Parks has 2 riverside picnic areas available for your use. We recommend that you bring a small or medium sized cooler with your lunch and refreshments so you can stop at one of these parks for a riverside picnic before or after your rafting trip. Restrooms and picnic tables are provided.
The end of the run has lots of fun riffles and crystal clear pools to swim in. "Orange Blossom Park" is the ending point of your trip where our shuttle bus will be waiting to take you back to your car where you can take a tour of historic Knights Ferry and the longest covered bridge in the west!
Trip lasts 2 to 4 hours depending on flow.
Afternoon trip: Check in at the Knights Ferry Rafting Customers Parking Area - 1:00PM
1:15PM - After gearing up for the trip and a brief 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.
1:45PM - 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. After running this rapid you'll come across a few calm pools with clear water and stunning scenery.
3:45PM - Take-out and a short ride back to your car. Our Lower Stanislaus trips usually provide lots of good stories and memories for our guests!
Driving Directions to the Stanislaus River
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 "Visitor's Center Parking Lot" at the Stanislaus River Park which is on the right just after you cross over the bridge.
There is a $5 charge per car to park here.
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 "Visitor's Center Parking Lot" 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 "Visitor's Center Parking Lot" 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 Visitor's Center Parking Lot which is on the right just after 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 and we have discounts for April and May trips.
- Do I have to know how to swim well?
No, Class 2 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 raft.
- Will I need a wetsuit?
No, spring,summer and fall rafting on class 2 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. If you are looking for a Summer time class 3 guided river trip try the South Fork of the American 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 April, the weather is usually perfect for rafting.
- 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?
Coolers should be limited to one per raft or small or medium size. Beverages must be in plastic bottles or cans only - no glass bottles.
- Can we still raft if we have young children (under 7 years)?
We allow kids age 5 and older. All youths should know how to swim..
What to Bring
Things to bring:
Small or medium sized cooler with your lunch.
Camping & Lodging
Places to stay near the Stanislaus River
Knights Ferry has only 1 campground and 2 bed and breakfast lodges. Lodging would be also be 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.