Reviews of White Water Rafting with River Runners

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit
— Aristotle

At River Runners our guests become part of the family. Because we are a small business, service is personal, friendly and genuine. We do what we do because we get a kick out of seeing other people enjoy the river, Camp Lotus and good food as much as we do. See what some of our guests think;


Boy Scout Merit Badge

5 Stars

Rick B - Reviewed September 12, 2018

B.S.A.Troop 186 Newark can't say enough about our experience with John, Sarah,Andrew. Joe and Aria. Spelling questionable? We didn't know what to expect having just picked them off of the web. We had a blast.The rafting swimming and jumping off high rocks made for a great time. The professionalism and care taken to make certain safety was first but excitement intense. The conversation with Aria my guid was open and real. We wish her the best in her next adventure on the Colorado. The Scouts all had a fantastic learning experience in true Scouting form Fun with a purpose. Once again we loved it. Thanks River Runners staff,crew and owners.
Rick Bensco Scoutmaster Troop 186 Newark

The BEST "First-Time" White-Water rafting ever!!

5 Stars

bunnymenGirl La Palma, California

Reviewed July 26, 2018

If you are going rafting the first time or have done it before...River Runners is the company to do it with!! Excellent, excellent team of husband & wife owners!! Managed very professionally as well as friendly, kind and always there to help with anything. The meals were better than a restaurant!! Breakfast, Lunch & Dinners were awesome and delicious!! As first-timers we were coached thoroughly before we got into the boats. Joe, our guide was amazing, he let us swim, jump off of rocks, relax, etc. Really enjoyed all the activities we did and information Joe gave us throughout the tour. I don't have enough room to write all the details but I was truly impressed with River Runners. Highly recommend them!!

Great Experience for Families with Kids

5 Stars

Julie Y -San Jose, California

Reviewed July 23, 2018

We were lucky enough to have John and Chris as our guides this weekend on the afternoon Gorge Trip. I grew up in Colorado, by far the best river rafting experience I've ever had. We were a party of 13, 6 of those kids 12 and under, all in John's boat! He was fantastic and we hit the rapids straight on, but the kids were totally safe and had the full experience. Chris had 4 of the adults in his boat and he was also extremely skilled but just a great cool guy you could spend 4 hours with. They had a few stops that were so fun, some rock jumping into the river the kids loved, the whirlpool, and riding the rapids. A full not top notch experience that is organic with safety #1 vs. the large commercial outfits that want to churn as many people thru in a day that they can. John and Sarah run a great business and charge a very reasonable price. Definitely check them out, highly recommend. Thank you John and Chris, we had a fabulous day from a tough crowd

Fantastic experience - can't wait to do it again!

5 Stars

Megan H - San Jose, California

Reviewed July 10, 2018

This was one of the best trips I've taken - can't recommend River Runners enough, and can't wait to go back next year, if not before.

I booked with River Runners partially because their website seemed personal and friendly, and partially because they were the only outfit running a two-night camping trip - and we wanted two nights in a tent! I went with a friend and her 7.5-year-old daughter - her first rafting trip! - and we were excited to introduce her to the river and get in some fun for the grown-ups as well. Sarah was super responsive by e-mail - replying within an hour of my trip request - and helped us get the details squared away ahead of our trip.

We arrived at Camp Lotus to find a Welcome note with our names written on the big chalkboard outside of camp - and it was just our three names! I can't express how appreciative we were that the trip wasn't cancelled despite us being their only clients for that trip. From the moment we arrived it was personal and intimate and fun. The tents were already set up (and FYI, that two-people-per-tent note means two people in what must be a six-person tent - they were huge!), and before we headed out for dinner we found that Sarah had set up the makings of a campfire (bring your s'mores materials!) as well as the extra-large Jenga (made from 2x4s, we got a little obsessive about that game) for us before calling it a night.

Mornings involved hot drinks ready to go at 7AM, and breakfast at 8AM, under the covered, lighted eating area next to their large kitchen. The food was fantastic - eggs to order (again, only three of us on the trip) and bacon (cooked by vegetarians, no less!), pastries, fruit, pancakes... And when they found out I am a Diet Coke drinker, a DC appeared at every meal. Super thoughtful. Lunch on the river was great as well - really high-quality ingredients (Sun-dried tomatoes! Avocado! *Actual* turkey and not that weird processed deli meat!) for thick sandwiches, and big bags of salty chips (perfect!). Dinner was going to be steak AND fish AND chicken but we protested as a small party of three, so went with the steak (which was SO good). Did not feel like "camp food" - we felt really spoiled.

Our guide, Chris, was *fantastic.* He was super friendly, knew the river and the history of the area ridiculously well, and made running the rapids super smooth (of course, this included the calculated runs into the smooth boulders to spin the boat around, and diving us headfirst into the big waves in the rapids to get us all wet, "surfing" as much as we could that also involved getting completely soaked - it was great!). We stopped wherever we could - jumped off ~10-foot rocks (at two different spots!), sat in the warm "Queen's bath", picked blackberries (Chris had to brave the thorny bushes to get to the ripe ones), spun around in a whirlpool, swam the "swimmers rapids" (both times!), and were able to hop out of the boat at every (safe) opportunity to enjoy the water. Chris avoided the "red horde" (another company that had TONS of boats on the river) so that it felt like the river was ours. He even fished out a baton (no joke) from the river bottom and gave it to our youngest companion, who may now become part of a marching band (or use it as a weapon, it's unclear at this point). We spent 7 hours on the river on the first day. It was spectacular. We were picked up with a cooler of cold drinks and an easy ride back to camp. The second day was equally spectacular - more rock-jumping, a swimmers rapid, floating in the calm sections, surfing, avoiding the red horde. We returned to a meal of huge burgers. We were lucky to sit and chat with Sarah and John and Chris while we ate, and learned about the history of River Runners and how it's passed from owner to RR guide through the years.

We saw the camp gaggle of geese and their goslings (too close and they hiss, watch out), herons and huge fish on the river, and only a few mosquitos overall.

There aren't enough nice things I can say about this trip. It was magical. It felt custom, personal, and even luxurious (if you can feel that while camping on the river!).

Awesome experience!

5 Stars

mkitchen- Long Beach, California

Reviewed July 24, 2017

The River Runners team is a well oiled machine of experience creating a memorable two days adventure! Our group of 12 agreed we were clearly guided by the best local rafting operation. We are planning to bring a larger group next time. The campsite was nice. Tents were set up and ready for us. The food was good and even offered a balanced meal for my daughter who is a vegetarian. John, Sara, Daniel and Joe did an outstanding job with providing our group with a wonderful couple of days.

Zippori - 5 Star

If you are looking for an amazing weekend of rafting and fun River Runners is the best out there. The team makes you feel like family and creates a unique and memorable experience. This was my second time rafting with River Runners and I am already planning on returning. They love what they are doing and are genuinely excited to share their love of rafting and nature with the group. I cannot say enough good thing about river runners and would recommend them in a heartbeat !!

July 2017

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S.R - 5 Star

My husband and I, along with my 12 and 15 year old had our first white water rafting experience with River Runners. 

They were extremely professional and organized right from the booking process to the end of the day.

We stopped along the way to try out some fun water activities such as jumping off rocks into the river, swimming in the current, sliding down a natural rock water slide and many others. None of the other tours appeared to be doing this or having nearly as much fun as our group was.

The lunch provided had a good variety to suit anyones tastes and there was plenty to go around. 

The equipment seemed very well maintained and best of all the guides were super knowledgeable, fun, informative and passionate about what they do.

I only have great things to say about the day. Thanks so much to Sarah for such an awesome intro to white water rafting!

August 2017

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Tracy M - 5 Star

We saw a recommendation for River Runners somewhere on Trip Adviser and what a find. The campsite location was right in the river and our tents and bedding were really comfortable. The team there led by Sarah and John with Joe and Dan were delightful. The two day white rafting was a complete highlight of our holiday - really fun and exciting. River Runners are a genuinely friendly team and they ensure everyone has a top experience. There were lots of stops for activities on the way which every age group enjoyed. All the meals were super tasty too. We felt safe with our guide on the water and trusted her completely. We all hope we can return one day.

August 2017

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Deborah Y - 5 Star

Joe was the best guide. River Runners was the best rafting company. So much fun! We will definitely be back the next time we are in California. Swimming in the river and jumping off the rocks had other rafters from other rafting companies jealous!! The "Birth Canal" is a must!!! Scary but worth it!!!!!! We weren't hurried and spent the entire day on the river!

August 2017

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Sylvia R - 5 Star

This is our second time back to River Runners this time we had our friends come with us since they saw pictures from our last trip. John was our guide again he is so over the top nice and he knows the river. This time the river was much more relaxing and we had a lot of fun jumping from rocks and floating down the river. After rafting and before rafting you are treated like Gold . Over the top breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sarah is wonderful and don't forget to get your hug from Joe.

September 2017

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Carlie H reviewed River Runners – 5 star

What a great crew!! We are so glad to have found River Runners, the hospitality was amazing and the river runs were better than we ever expected! So many new memories made for our family that will last a lifetime. We WILL be back! Thank you so much for an awesome first experience on the river. Your expertise and experience is second to none...looking forward to many more trips!!! Thank you so much~the Hanchett family

August 2016

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Patty O reviewed River Runners – 5 star

Consistently the best of the best. The food, the camp, the river, and some of the best people you'll ever run over rapids and the best places to stop. Year after year... No one compares. Simply the very best. Love them so much!!

September 6th 2016

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Danyelle S reviewed River Runners – 5 star

River Runners is by the far the best company on the river. They are in the water first and get off last, their guides are extremely knowledgeable about the river and super fun to be around, the food is great and camp is clean and comfortable. 5 stars all around. 

Reviewed July 25th 2016 

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Jason B's Review of rafting with River Runners - 5 Stars

“Beyond Expectations ”

A truly amazing outdoor experience! Our day with River Runners was more than a rafting trip, it was a connection with nature, the river and truly wonderful people; our guides John and Sarah.

We paddled, swam, learned about river history, heard old family stories, picked amazing berries, laughed, leaped and made life long memories. Thank you!


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Kevin T's Review of rafting with River Runners - 5 Stars

“Great well-paced day on the river”

Really can't say enough good things about John and his guiding. Yes, he was a skillful experienced (15 years on the river?) guide who got us safely down the river. But it was the whole experience that was magical/special. Other tours take (we heard) 4 hours to go the route we did -- John gave us a full 6 hours, extremely patient and leisurely. He taught my daughter and niece how to skip rocks (he's quite good at it), he found multiple spots with fresh berries and helped us pick them. He found a great jumping rock that my daughter & I used happily, but when it was too high for my niece, he knew of a shorter rock, then patiently stood holding her hand for a good 10 minutes until she got the courage to jump off of it. Good lunch at a great spot that he has to himself. When we showed interest in history, he stopped at a totally random spot and walked us 15 feet to a channel that gold-rush-era miners had dynamited to redirect the river -- super cool. And he was a great conversationalist throughout. Fab day.


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What Dan D thinks about his rafting trip with River Runners -  5 Stars

“Unforgettable Weekend in the Great Outdoors!”

Just back from the most amazing weekend on the American River with River Runners. We were a group of 24 friends that went up for a 2-day river adventure and River Runners are by far the best. If you are looking for an experience beyond just zipping through the river, stopping and seeing where a beaver is building a dam, picking some blackberries, jumping from rocks into rapids or just catching some sun on some rocks at some of the best places along the river than River Runners is for you. This is my 5th year going up and rafting with River Runners and it is one of my most anticipated weekends of the year!

They do everything for us, we just relaxed the entire time and enjoyed. We arrived on Friday afternoon and the tents were ready for us all we had to do was select the one we wanted, place it where we wanted and put our stuff in it and then relax. They did the rest. Day 1 began with them making breakfast for us in the morning and cleaning it up, a great orientation of what to expect and how to be safe rafting on the river then it was to a day on the river. We stopped for a great lunch all set up by them along the river and relaxed a bit and then jumped back in the boats to raft the rest of the day. A bus picked us up and bussed us back to camp where we showered and they made dinner for us and cleaned it up as well so we could just relax and enjoy our beers, the stars, a campfire and the great outdoors. Day 2 they again made a great breakfast, cleaned up and then bussed us up river to another starting point where we rafted the better part of the day and then ended back at the camp where they made us bbq'd hamburgers and hot dogs and we said our goodbyes to head back home.

Absolutely, by far, the best and most knowledgeable guides on the river and you will have the most amazing time. The owners John Kosakowsky & Sarah Vee are wonderful and their guides not only know the river and have your safety as their number 1 priority but they know the best spots to stop, the best rapids to swim (if you want to swim rapids), the best places to jump from rocks and ride a rapid only to have it spin you back into a small calm pool. If you are just into kicking it in the boat, that is cool too.

The best weekend ever! They are AWESOME!


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Josh F's Review - 5 Stars

This place was recommended by a friend who has been going there for several years.  I recently got back from what I can only describe a 100% awesome rafting adventure!  I went  with my two boys (13 and 11) and our friends who have boys the same age.  This was our first time and I can't imagine it could have gone better.  River Runners made our trip special, amazing, and incredibly easy!  

We loved it so much that we will be going back again soon.  John and Sarah own the company and they are there giving tours and working.  John's brother Daniel was out guide and he was outstanding!  Daniel is like a river whisperer.  He and his family grew up playing in and around the river and Daniel showed us so many special treats that the trip went well beyond a regular white water rafting adventure.  Daniel showed us special currents we could float in, he encouraged us to float around in some of the calmer water, we jumped off of rocks, picked wild blackberries and so much more.  While we were doing all of these unique experiences, other rafting companies were paddling down the river from one white water spot to the next.  If I could give them 6 stars I would.

Included in our two day package were all meals, tents, sleeping pads, and river guide.  All we brought was sleeping bags and sunscreen.  Sara and John cooked the food which was fresh, local, and delicious.  The accommodations at Camp Lotus where we stayed were comfortable and convenient.  (Showers and flush toilets).  The tents were actually set up for us when we arrived.

Everything about our trip was outstanding.  John, Sara, and Daniel gave us an experience we will never forget and one we want to repeat every year!

Here's a video I made of our trip -…


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Dominique B's Rafting Review -  5 Stars

What a great organization! It's a family run business and it's clear that they really care about their customers' experience. Another mom and I went with our kids (ages 9-14) and everyone had a great time. Daniel was our guide, and he was patient, kind and fun to be around. Sarah was the guide for the other boat and she too was wonderful. Try to book a trip on a week day as the weekends get very crowded. You will not feel rushed as they spend about 6 hours on the river. We were able to swim, float, jump off rocks, and never once felt rushed to move along to get back. Other companies spend half this amount of time on the river which would lead to a very different experience. If you want a leisurely day on the river, this is the group to book your trip with!

Wear rash guards, sun hats, and sun glasses, and comfortable shoes that you don't mind getting wet. I wore Teva's and by the end of the day, they felt heavy and uncomfortable. Also bring a set of dry clothing and shoes to change into at the end of the day!


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Jennifer L-B's Rafting Review - 5 Stars

Hands down the BEST experience! We love everyone at River Runners!!! The guides are amazing, the food is outstanding, and John and Sara ROCK!!! Kyle has been our guide every year we have been there and we absolutely LOVE him!!!


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Steven P's Review- 5 Stars

We have been to River Runners USA now 4 times and each time is more fun than the last. The crew there are awesome - super knowledgable and VERY friendly. They cater to your every need. The rafting is fun, relaxed, invigorating and scenic. They have done a great job of updating the campsite and equipment, and keeping the family fun & fun-loving atmosphere that is unique to this group of guides. This is one of my families ALL TIME FAVORITE activities and we have taken to recruiting other families to join us and believe that we will continue to add to the groups and helping to pass along the fun. I cannot say enough about this adventure and the PEOPLE that have made every single one of our trips the greatest.
THANK YOU RIVER RUNNERS USA - we will see you all again soon!


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Andrew W's Review of rafting with River Runners - 5 Stars

We had an amazing time on our two-day trip down the American River. My friends and I took a guy's weekend to blow off steam and reconnect.

John and Sarah were amazing hosts as well as river guides. Their approach is to give you a great experience on and off the river. The campsite is at Lotus campground, a nice space along the river that unlike other sites I've stayed at, was green and grassy, not dusty. Our group shared the area with one other group and tents were set up for us when we got there.

Breakfast and dinner were wonderful. The crew cooked for us in their new outdoor kitchen. Eggs, bacon and fruit for breakfast. And good coffee! Dinner was a variety of choices, all fresh. Plus we had lunch to take on the river with us.

The rafting experience couldn't have been better. John took our group and showed us features of the river that we wouldn't have gotten from other bigger companies. With his many years of experience rafting on the American and elsewhere, we felt relaxed knowing we were in good hands. Not to say the river wasn't exciting in parts, as we managed to find all the sweet spots on the rapids to get a great ride and get plenty doused with shockingly cold water (thank God temps were in the 90's or better).

We also really enjoyed our conversations on the boat with John, as ours is a philosophical group and love to talk. He shared a lot of his knowledge and experience and had real interest in what we had to say. Though we weren't in Sarah's or Kyle's boat, we could see they were expertly guiding their groups. Both of them had young kids and everyone seemed to be having a great time with no problems.

If you can, I recommend taking a two-day trip on the South Fork so you have time to really get into the flow of things. They offer other options as well on their website. Whichever you decide on, I highly recommend giving River Runners a try.


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Robin McTaggart 

I had one of the best experiences of my life !! It was everything I had hoped for and so much more. Everyone is welcoming, the food is wonderful and our guide, Joe, made all of us feel safe and gave us the best time ever.
I just got home and want to go back as soon as possible. Robin McT


(This review was written as a comment directly on our website)