Our Story

heart icon Sierra South Mountain Sports Kern River California

We have been in love with the Kern River since 1980 when Tom Moore drove up the Kern Canyon and laid his eyes on one of the most incredible stretches of a river he had ever seen.

The big water years from 1980-1983 were a revelation for all rafters and kayakers who found themselves on the Kern River, a true whitewater utopia. Tom was instrumental in pioneering rafting on the Upper Kern Class V Thunder Run, and the Forks of the Kern, which at the time were two of the most difficult whitewater sections run commercially in the world. He is also an accomplished whitewater kayaker who helped pave the way for kayaking on the now world-famous Brush Creek and Dry Meadow Creek.

Sierra South Mountain Sports was born in 1985 as a whitewater rafting center and a whitewater kayaking store. Tom convinced his sister Marianne (MA) that  Kernville was the closest thing to paradise and come–please. Now, 36 years later, we have grown to become the largest whitewater rafting outfitter and kayak retail store in Southern California.

Early on, Hyside Inflatables, came calling with rafts for sale. Dick DeChant convinced MA to marry him, so Hyside World Headquarters also thrived in Kernville, until recently selling and moving to Colorado. The Kern became a great testing river for innovations such as self-bailing rafts, inflatable kayaks, and new designs. 

Evan Moore, Tom’s son, came into the world in 1995 and began whitewater kayaking and rafting at age 4. Seventeen years later at 21, he became the first person to kayak the entire stretch of the Cataracts of the Kern at high water and has since become one of the best kayakers in the world. He is now our general manager but is still kayaking the hardest rapids worldwide during his free time. 

With Evan’s sister Hannah working in reservations, and Tom’s wife Becky working remotely from our office, it has truly become a family affair.

In 2019, Sierra South merged with Kern River Tours, the oldest and original commercial rafting company on the Kern River to create an experience that no other outfitter in Southern California can provide.

Thirty-six years later it is still a paradise to us. If you’ve been here before, you know…if you haven’t, we cannot wait to share our love and passion for the Kern River with you!