For 29 years, the friendly and knowledgeable rafting staff of River Journey has outfitted visitors with the equipment and know-how to navigate the meandering waters of the picturesque Stanislaus River. Departing from Knights Ferry, guided and self-guided groups in fitted lifejackets bob under the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi in their inflated rafts or kayaks, paddling with provided paddles or hiring a flock of unemployed ducks to do the grunt work. Adventurers then splash through Class 2 Russian Rapids—where their pictures will be snapped for optional purchase at the end of their trip—before floating between Two Bluffs, marked on each side by towering basalt cliffs where swallows and blue heron nest. Rafts continue toward Lovers Leap, a sheer rock wall with a uniquely shaped peak, and through the Throw Rapid after a sharp right bend in the river. Through Horseshoe Park and along to slow, calm swimming holes, three- to five-hour trips draw to a close at Orange Blossom Park after conquering 8 miles of the dynamic waterway and performing celebratory run-ashore dances.
Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions has been soaking up water-dousing revelry since 1973 with an assortment of safe aquatic adventures on California’s scenic rivers. No experience is necessary for this half-day voyage, which begins at noon and typically concludes about 5:30 p.m., on the Kings River, one of the last undammed and unspoiled rivers flowing out of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. At the Zephyr base-camp meeting place, groups of water wanderers 7 years and older receive a brief prepping on the journey ahead before donning a life vest and joining a CPR-certified guide in a six- to eight-person paddle raft. River explorers then embark on a 10-mile journey full of untamed splashes and feral rubber duckies, and seasoned guides answer any questions and fish-themed riddles that come up along the way. Between each lively bit of rapids, which can vary in classification from season to season, calm stretches give rafters the opportunity to reflect on the Kings River’s tremendous beauty or newly acquired life-vest tan lines. Victorious paddlers end the day with a complimentary snack and beverage before a Zephyr shuttle returns them back to their vehicles.
The owners of 7Star Rental wield more than 20 years of boating experience to equip ocean and lake adventurers of all levels for an active day on the water. Knowledgeable staffers can harness equipment such as wakeboards and inner tubes to all-fiberglass Tigé and Centurion-brand boats, or loan out a fishing vessel with plenty of storage space for bait and tackle. Events such as fishing trips and wakeboarding lessons help watersports newbies get their feet wet. In addition, Sea-Doos carry wave wranglers through California's many lakes, delta waterways, and Guinness World Record–breaking goldfish bowls.
The Headwaters owners Dan and Ashlie Arbuckle strive to make aquatic exploration accessible by providing patrons with high-quality equipment, as well as moral support from their canine companion, Henna. The shop rents paddleboards and kayaks to paddlers intent on exploring the Mokelumne River and also organizes guided trips, exhibitions, and private or small group classes for newbies. In addition, fishing kayak packages rent out rod holders, fish finders, and scripts for tall tales about "the one that got away."
Since 1981, Sacramento State Aquatic Center has rented fun and educational water vessels to local aquaphiles looking to skitter along the surface of Lake Natoma. Choose from several options for your hour of water-top fun: enjoy the natural landscape at a leisurely pace by cruising out onto the lake in a person-powered canoe, or opt for a tandem or cabo kayak rental for a slightly more X-treme canoe-like experience. If a missed morning spinning class has your legs feeling underworked and lazy, launch onto the lake in a hydro bike and ride over the waves on the pedal-powered pond skimmer.
With more than a dozen adrenaline-pumping activities available at discounts of at least 50 percent, the Adventures Pass gives its holders the opportunity to eschew the couch and experience the adventures their local merchants have to offer. With a single pass, customers can get deals on everything from horseback riding and indoor rock climbing to wakeboarding and paragliding, all at companies located within driving or skydiving distance.