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Lower Klamath River

Kid-friendly paddling with swimming holes, wildlife, and waterfalls

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Turn your landlocked toddler into a happy river rat on this three-day, two-night camping and rafting trip on the warm waters of the Lower Klamath. The mellow Class II rapids are just splashy enough to be exciting for kids, yet not too nerve-wracking for Mom and Dad. Parents can kick back while river guides do all the work: set up camp, fix meals, explain the region’s fascinating mining history, and teach the kids how to look for Bigfoot. Children as young as four are welcome, and they don’t need to know how to swim; personal floatation devices keep everyone safe. The whimsical name of the trip’s toughest rapid—Dragon’s Tooth—says it all.

The days are so warm during the June to August rafting season that no one gets boat fever on this trip. You’re out of the boat more than you’re in it, enjoying the Klamath’s sandy beaches and warm water for splashing around. Don’t miss the hike through the rainforest of Ukonom Creek, where two side-by-side waterfalls cascade into a deep swimming hole. In the evening, paddle up to camp and savor the sunset while you dine, then sleep like the righteous under starry skies.

Wildlife watching is a big highlight on the Lower Klamath. Bald eagles and ospreys soar above the alder- and fir-lined canyon, and beavers and river otters glide through the water. Trips start in Happy Camp, an hour and a half drive west of Yreka, so it’s easy to combine this watery adventure with a visit to Redwood National and State Parks. Several companies, including O.A.R.S. and Tributary Whitewater Tours, offer guided overnight trips.

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