California River Quest Frequently Asked Questions

Can I rent a boat?

Rentals are available. For information about available options, please contact Bryan Anondson at Headwaters Adventures at (530) 223-2411.


What if I want to paddle a boat or board that isn’t in a listed category?

We want you to race, so we have a place for you. Competitive Class has strict paddle craft categories, but Adventure Class can accommodate most boats.  Please contact us at


How do I train for the California River Quest?

We strongly recommend that you get time on moving water before the race.  We will have several river clinics.  More information is available at

“Yes, You CAN,” Paddle Training for the California River Quest By Elaine Baden, provides a basic training schedule for the California River Quest, with a minimum commitment of two days per week of paddling.  If you have three days, add a 2nd day of intervals.  If you have four days, add another longer paddle of at least 2 hours. You can download it at


What type of hazards are on the course?

The most hazardous thing you will encounter are semi-submerged trees or shrubs, the second biggest hazard is the cold water. Expect water temps to be in the high 40s or low 50s. Avoid any overhanging vegetation on the banks of the river and anything sticking out of the water. These branches can create a sieve that your boat may pass through, but you might not, or your boat may “wrap” around them and get pinned. It is the #1 most dangerous feature on the course. Knowing how to maneuver your boat around these hazards should keep you safe.

The sections of class II riffles may be intimidating to some folks used to paddling flat water.  Check our clinics page ( ) for info on a clinic designed to help with the small whitewater.  If you can’t attend a training before the race, we suggest you seek out comparable rapids in your location and go with a group of experienced paddlers to practice maneuvering through them.


Do I have to wear a life jacket?

YES! Coast Guard approved Type III inherently buoyant vest style personal floatation device (NOT inflatable) must be worn at all times while on the water to comply with event insurance.  Prone paddlers may use inflatable Type III PFDs.


Will there be other boat traffic on the river?

Expect to see boaters on the water. The density will be greater near the population centers and the launch ramps. It will be a mix of motorized boaters, paddlers and some fisherman. The river is not very good for wakeboarding, so there won’t be much of that. The water will be cold so that may keep a lot of boaters off the water.


Can I stop during the race?

Yes! Take as many breaks as you need. It is common and you will see other people resting too. The checkpoints are a great opportunity for a rest. Simply floating in the current for five minutes here and there is another. But, always pay attention that you are not drifting into a snag or tree.

If for any reason you disqualify yourself from the event after the race has started, you must notify a race official immediately. If you do not notify the proper authorities, you will be banned from any future California River Quest events and may be held responsible for the cost of a search and rescue. Phone numbers for race officials will be provided prior to the race.


How much food do I need?

It is critical to make sure you eat and drink through the duration of the race. For most, this is the single most critical make-it or break-it factor. Make sure you have several food options for re-fueling either with you on your boat or meet your support team at each checkpoint or give organizers bags to be dropped at each checkpoint (see Race Rules for more info about this). You will be surprised at what you end up craving and what you simply can no longer get down. Some food and water will be available at the checkpoints, but don’t rely on getting water or food from checkpoints.


How do I race in the dark?

CAREFULLY!  Keep your ears open as they will help you identify any hazards.

If you’re racing in the dark, you will be required to have two 12-hour, chemical lights fixed to bow and stern of boat for night travel (also called glow sticks) and a minimum of two forward facing lights (the second is a backup).


What if I can’t make the Friday check-in and safety talk?

Notify us immediately at


Where should I stay before and after the race?

The check-in, mandatory safety meeting and race start are in Redding. The celebration lunch will be in Chico, so regardless of which course you choose, we recommend staying in Chico after the race.

Remember, the California River Quest is over a holiday weekend.  Both Redding and Chico are destinations for the long weekend, so hotels and campsites book up early.  If you’re planning on joining us for the race, we encourage you to make your lodging plans soon.

As far as the best places to stay…  In Redding, we strongly recommend sticking to hotels that are east of I5.  There are a bunch of good places on Hilltop Road.  An exception to this is a nice, new Sheraton very close to the race start.  In Chico, there are a lot of options.

If you have questions about a specific hotel or camping location, email us at, and we’ll do our best to help you get answers.


Where do I leave a car at the race start?

There is very limited parking at the race start.  If you do not have a support team, we strongly recommend that you use the shuttle service.  You can find info about the shuttle service at or to sign up for shuttle service, email and we will pass your info along to the shuttle service people.


Is there on water support or a sweep boat?

There will be on water safety vessels for emergency response only.  There will be a safety sweep behind the last boat.


Do you still have questions?

Please email us at