Here are some answers to our most commonly asked questions. If you have others that aren’t listed here, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Click on any question to see the answer.
No, river motion is nothing like being at sea and does not induce seasickness.
Can children come? Definitely! We welcome children 7 and older on the Kings and American rivers. (See our Kids Guide to the Kings River). On our more advanced rivers, (Merced, Tuolumne, and Kings in spring), the minimum age is 12. During years when we have had a very heavy snowpack, the minimum ages will vary, and it is best to check with our office for updated river conditions.
We supply experienced and qualified guides, great food, waterproof bags for your personal gear, life jackets, wetsuits, paddle jackets, helmets on our advanced trips, shuttles, and dry bags and boxes for cameras.
A detailed list of necessary gear that you bring is included with each trip packet, which is sent to you after you make your reservation. Zephyr has tents and sleeping kits available for rent.
Zephyr emphasizes food quality on all its trips. On the Kings River, our head chef purchases the food and cooks the meals in our large permanent camp kitchen. On our other rivers, Jane Ferguson, co-owner, purchases and packs most trip food . Generally, hearty, sumptuous meals complete with fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables, and of course, our famous dutch oven desserts cooked on the spot. Our food is guaranteed to impress you. We do offer vegetarian options. Just let us know of any special dietary needs in advance of your trip.
Beer and wine are provided at dinner time by Zephyr. Alcohol is definitely not allowed either the morning of your trip, or on-river. (NOTE: If you show up the morning of the trip intoxicated, you will not be allowed to participate. No refunds will be given.)
We encourage you to bring cameras to record your journey. Zephyr provides waterproof boxes for basic sized cameras. On several of our rivers, professional photographers take photos of our trip, and make those shots available for purchase.
Definitely. We and all the outfitters that we deal with operate under stringent federal permits issued by various governmental agencies. Zephyr is a permitted Recreation Service Partner with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management , the Bureau of Reclamation, and the State of California Dept. of Parks and Recreation.
We pride ourselves on our professional guides, most of whom have been with the Zephyr family for many seasons. Each year, we train new guides at our own intensive whitewater school, and choose only the most qualified to work for us. Our guides are bright, articulate, enthusiastic, and charming. They are very knowledgeable about the outdoors, and are trained in local and natural history, conservation, camp cooking, and in both CPR and wilderness first-aid. Both men and women, long lasting friendships have resulted between our guides and clients over the years.
Its up to you…usually, you can do both. Paddling is an exciting, participatory way to run the river. Each boat contains about 6 paddlers plus a guide to call commands. There is a thorough explanation and practice session for paddlers before we start out. The paddle option is available provided water conditions permit. On the oar boat, your guide does most of the work using oars. This is the way to go if you want to relax and enjoy the scenery, take photos, or appreciate a more secure ride. For a complete description and photos, see our boats page.
Most trips are not particularly strenuous. You should be in relatively good health, but our guides handle all the heavy work, including camp cooking and cleanup. If you are in the paddleboat, you will be expected to paddle, but only through the rapids. Normally we prefer to float with the current in the calm sections…we don’t want to wear you out.
No. Most rivers are “pool and drop”, which means that stretches of exciting whitewater are interspersed with calm sections. The rivers we have chosen to offer have side creeks, hikes to historic mining sites, cave explorations, etc. We offer the whitewater, but a lot more too!!
No. While you should know the basics of swimming, our Coast Guard approved life jackets will float you should you fall out of the boat. Our guides will show you how to “swim” a rapid feet first, a technique that differs from conventional swimming.
Generally, pretty luxurious. Our base camps on the Kings and American rivers boast a permanent camp kitchen, flush toilets, volleyball, horseshoes, picnic tables, and beach front campsites right on the banks of the river. On the Tuolumne River, we camp at several different sites, remote and extremely beautiful. Porta-potties are provided on these trips. We bring portable camp kitchens, and when dinner is served, you will be amazed at how much stuff we can take in the rafts. Our Merced trips are 1/2 and full-day trips only, but camping both before and after your trip is available in the Yosemite area.