One of the best rapids on the Kaweah River in Central California is right in front of Rio Sierra Riverhouse. This video shows "Upper and Lower Slicky" near the town of Three Rivers. When the rafters come by its pure excitement because you have to know what you are doing to be on this river! One Class IV rapid after another makes the Kaweah one of the most continuous intermediate whitewater runs in California.
Meet the Star of the Show: The River
Rio Sierra Riverhouse is blessed to be perched right the bank of the Kaweah River. Our location is possibly the best and most relaxing spot to admire and appreciate the varying beauty and power of this dazzling waterway.
One of America’s Steepest Rivers
The river begins high in the snowy and precipitous peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the longest mountain range in the United States. As the snow melts in spring and early summer, the ice-cold water sharply descends through the mountains. In the first few miles, the river drops an amazing 85 feet per mile. All in all, the Kaweah drops a stunning 12,000 feet in just 20 miles! This makes the Kaweah River one of the steepest rivers in America! As the river cascades on its way through Sequoia National Park and into Three Rivers, it becomes a spectacle to behold.
A Whitewater Wonderland
The Kaweah is a “free-flowing” river, meaning there are no upstream dams or other man-made controls. The water runs naturally, free and unobstructed. So when peak snowmelt hits, usually sometime during April through June, expert river raft and kayak enthusiasts flock to the area for thrills on some of the best whitewater in California.
Right out in front of Rio Sierra Riverhouse are two of the most famous whitewater rapids on the entire river. During the snowmelt, skilled paddlers try to pilot these extreme natural wonders. Watching the action from Rio Sierra Riverhouse’s beach is a real thrill. The rapids on view at Rio are nicknamed “Upper Slicky” and “Lower Slicky.” If you want to try a river run, we can put you in contact with some of the best guides and outfitters in the area. These are world-class rapids and whitewater expertise and equipment is an absolute necessity.
Nature’s Sculpture Garden
As summer comes the river warms and its flow slows as the snowmelt ends. Enormous smooth boulders emerge from the receding water. They form fantastic natural sculptures in and around the river. Year to year they are never exactly the same. As air temperatures rise in Three Rivers, the gorgeous rocks warm and the river transforms into a sunny, tranquil place. The sandy beach is perfect for lounging and the water provides a refreshing swim.
A River is a “Perpetual Gala” of Constancy and Change
In the fall and winter the river grows narrow and the beach expands, revealing more secrets that have been hidden by the water all year. Warm beach days can last well into November. That is when the trees along the banks begin their transformation from lush green to the bright yellow and orange. It is as if they are putting on decorations for the coming holidays. Ralph Waldo Emerson had it right when he wrote, “Indeed the river is a perpetual gala, and boasts each month a new ornament!”
Our river is an amazing place. It is constant, yet ever changing. Every season and every year, it brings us a new landscape and spectacle to behold. We hope you will come and see it for yourself, because you will never step in the same river twice!
*** Our “Relax at the River” video was shot and edited by our good friend, Mike Sioss. And his wife Dana Millikin penned this article.