Klamath River Rafting

Klamath River Rafting

Klamath River Rafting

One of my favorite rivers to be on is the Klamath River. The whitewater rafting on this river is spectacular, and you can run over twenty class II and III rapids in one section alone. The scenery and the abundant wildlife should also make a Klamath river rafting trip at the top of your list. 

The Klamath river starts in southern Oregon, and this Upper Klamath section offers a day section of Class IV+ rapids. There is another section called Tree of Heaven that offers decent rafting. However, near Happy Camp, California, the lower Klamath offers many multi-day trip options with great rapids, scenery, wildlife, and excellent campsites. 

Klamath river rafting
Klamath River

Lower Klamath River Rafting

The Lower Klamath, consisting of almost 100 miles, can be broken into three sections around Happy Camp, Ca. and is an ideal trip for young families, school groups, or someone looking for an opportunity to find solitude a short distance from major cities. The regular season for Lower Klamath Rafting is Mid-June through September. 

Temperatures can get into the 100s in July and August, so plan on spending most of your day in the warm water. 

However, Klamath river rafting in late Spring or early Summer can provide big water for even the most experienced whitewater rafters. I have taken a few early season trips and was surprised to see rapids that reminded me of trips I’ve taken on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. 

Scenery and Wildlife

The Wild and Scenic Lower Klamath River is situated in one of the continent’s most bio-diverse temperate regions. Besides the diversity in animals, you will find many different kinds of plants and trees. You can find Manzanita, Madrone, and Ponderosa Pine trees.

On the Lower Klamath river, it is common to see Bald Eagles, Osprey, turtles, deer, and black bears. The scenery changes throughout the river, starting with floating through majestic forests of old-growth stands of fir, cedar, and pine and ending with steep canyon walls. 

Happy Camp

Happy Camp, California, is the hub for Klamath river rafting. It is centrally located for all the usual boat launches and serves as a supply depot for your trip. Kingfishers Market is a local grocery store with a lot to offer and reasonable prices. The pizza parlor, called the Pizza House, serves fantastic pizza. 

There are a couple of small hotels, an auto parts store, and a Post office. Its quaintness makes this town unique, allowing me to step back into time and slow down. It is the perfect place to start another fantastic lower Klamath rafting trip. 

The upper section of the Lower Klamath River

I consider the “upper section” starting at the Portuguese boat launch and ending at the Seattle boat launch. This makes for a great 1-day trip. However, you can extend this trip by floating to Happy Camp, although it is relatively calm after Seattle. I love this section for inflatable kayaking. This section has a nice “tune-up” rapid called Helicopter Rapid. This Rapid gives a chance to get your boat crew ready for the Class III right around the corner, Upper Savage Rapid.

The next few rapids come up on you fast.

  • Otter’s playpen Class III
  • Lower Savage Class II+
  • Goff Falls Class II+
Upper Savage Klamath River
Courtesy of California Creeks

The rest of this section is a leisurely float to the take-out at Seattle Boat Launch. You can run the entire section in a couple of hours if you push. I have floated this run just before sunset, and it was a great way to end the day.

I usually run this section if I plan to camp at Curly Jack campground and intend to run different river sections. There are great campsites on this section, and I regret not doing more overnight runs up there. 

The middle section of the Lower Klamath River

The middle section starts at the Indian Creek boat launch and is an excellent white water rafting section. This section has the most rapids and my favorite pools to rest. The first rapid is called Wounded Knee (Class II.) I was taking a group of kids down the river, and they wanted to float this rapid, and I reminded them of its name, but they insisted. There were a few bumps and bruises on them that day. 

Next up, Rattlesnake Rapid, Class III. It would be best if you scouted this Rapid. Pull off on the right and hike down to the bottom of it to get a good view. There is a tight line you can run on river right, but the most common is staying left of the enormous hole right in the middle. 

After Rattlesnake Rapid comes a series of Class II and III rapids that are a lot of fun to run. There are also two large slow sections that make great resting or lunch spots as well as fabulous swimming holes. You will find a couple of nice sandy beaches for campsites while doing a multi-day trip.

Windgate is the usual take-out spot, but I typically float to Ferry’s point on a day trip. 

The lower section of the Lower Klamath River

The lower section of the Klamath River is special. I find serenity floating through the tall canyons mixed with mountains clad in Fir, Pines, Cedar, and Madrones. 

You will also encounter 11 spectacular rapids, ranging from III-IV. These rapids are enjoyable at high water but still impressive during the Summer months. Dragon’s Tooth is the biggest in this section, and you want to scout by pulling out above on the right bank. There are also quite a few Youtube videos for you to review. 

Rapids in Order:

  • Ferry Point Class II
  • Trek Class II
  • Independence Class II
  • Osprey Class III
  • Sasquatch Squeeze Class II+
  • Dragon’s Tooth Class IV
  • King’s Creek Class III
  • Ukonom Riffle Class III
  • Swillup Riffle Class II
  • Blue Swillup Class II
  • Dillon Creek Class II

There is a spectacular hike up Ukonom creek just before Coon Creek take-out. It is slightly technical and just over a mile in length. You will hike along the creek most of the way, but there is a fun portion where you swim/wade through. The payday is a beautiful waterfall at the end.

Klamath river rafting
Twin Falls on Ukonom Creek

Klamath River rafting: book now

I would recommend Entrada Outfitters if you are looking for a whitewater rafting guide to take you safely down the river. They know the river extremely well and offer great meals and camp experiences.

Lower Klamath rafting has much to offer. I have been coming here for years, and I have yet to explore it all. I did my best to provide the highlights of this area, but you have to come to see it for yourself. Book a trip with a whitewater rafting guide or email us to help you line out a trip on your own. Either way, just come.

All forward, 

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