River Safety

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River Safety PSA: (00:60)

(Buckeye Camp scene)

Did you know that the number one cause of death in Sequoia and Kings Canyon is drowning?

(scene and sounds of people playing in the Paradise Creek pool)

Riverbanks can crumble without warning. Rocks are slippery. Calm water looks enticing, but underneath the swift current can carry you away in seconds. Once you fall in, getting out is nearly impossible.

(Zoom out from Deadly River poster)

Be extra careful near water. Stay out of the water if the water is cold and currents strong!

Don't drink and swim. It's a recipe for disaster.

Enjoy your visit safely, so you can come back again!

A message from your neighbors at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

For more information, visit or call https://www.nps.gov/seki (559) 565-3341

(NPS Arrowhead)

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57.291 seconds

A short public service announcement on river safety in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.


River Safety

All rivers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon are potentially dangerous and require great care. The most dangerous times are during spring and early summer when melting snow from the mountains makes river waters swift, icy cold, and extremely hazardous.

While recreating in the parks' lakes and rivers can be tempting, drowning is the primary cause of death here. Rivers present great danger due to their fast currents and slippery rocks. In river-related deaths, many people did not intend to swim, but fell in. Cold water can quickly weaken your strength, and strong currents can make it nearly impossible to get back out. Hypothermia can set in quickly even if it is warm outside.

Currents are strong even during low water. Drop-offs and undertows are ever-present. Be vigilant.

If you do swim:

  • Do not swim in during in areas with strong currents, or steep drop-offs.
  • Do not leave children unattended.
  • Swimming and alcohol or drugs do not mix. Swim sober.
  • Wear sturdy shoes. Sharp objects in the water can cut bare feet.
  • During storms, get out of the water and exit beach areas.
  • Never swim alone.


Fishing is permitted during the season; a California fishing license is required for ages 16 & up. Learn more about fishing and fishing regulations or ask at any visitor center.

River Closures

The South Fork of the Kings River is closed to all watercraft from the confluence of Bubbs Creek to the Kings Canyon National Park border.

River Travel

Boating the rivers in these parks is extremely hazardous. Kayaking is popular on some rivers in the parks, but involves high risk and requires advanced skills. There are no beginner kayaking rivers in the parks. Motorized crafts are not permitted.

The Kaweah River offers a number of challenging runs. The Middle Fork of the Kaweah River has Class IV conditions, appropriate only for expert kayakers.

Getting to some stretches of river in the parks involves difficult wilderness travel. All those using rivers in the parks are subject to park regulations governing wilderness travel (see below).

Be sure to have sufficient information, expertise, and appropriate, reliable equipment before venturing forth on these beautiful, very wild rivers.

If Your River Trip Includes an Overnight Stay

Wilderness permits are always required for all overnight travel unless you stay in the park's campgrounds. From Memorial Day weekend to late September, quotas limit the number of people allowed to begin trips each day on each trail and reservations are recommended.

Wild & Scenic Rivers

In these parks, three stretches of river are designated "wild and scenic," one each on the Kern River, the Middle Fork of the Kings River, and the South Fork of the Kings River. They are part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, which preserves free-flowing rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values.

For more information about safety in the parks, please visit the General Safety page.

Last updated: June 26, 2024

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47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271


559 565-3341

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