March 12, 2001 Fresno Bee, Business Section

California’s largest rafting company, Whitewater Voyages, has bought Spirit Kings River Whitewater for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase enables El Sobrante-based Whitewater Voyages to guide one- and two-day rafting trips on the Kings River in the Sierra and Sequoia national forests east of Fresno. The Kings River is known for its long roller-coaster-like rapids, company officials said, but is still suitable for riders of all ages.

The addition of the Kings River places Whitewater Voyages in the unusual position of being able to guide trips on every popular white-water river in California, including the Kern, Kaweah, Kings, Merced, Tuolumne, the three forks of the American, Yuba, Klamath and Salmon, said Bill McGinnis, founder of Whitewater Voyages.

The addition of the Kings River “is the dawning of a new era, because the Kings is a wonderful river with good capacity. We’ll be one of three outfitters on the river,” McGinnis said.

McGinnis is a pioneer of California river rafting and has written four books on the sport. He began Whitewater Voyages ( in 1975 with two used rafts, no car and $500 from his grandmother.

Today, he has 140 rafts, employs 200 people during the busy summer season and last year guided 17,000 people down California rivers. © 2001 Fresno Bee.