We had a tradition of rafting the Stanislaus River out of Knights Ferry every summer. My most important tip is to not go in the middle of August when the water level is lowest and the current is nearly nonexistent. You’ll be working hard. I have many memories of seeing people catapulted out of their rafts, getting into water gun wars with strangers, peeing in the river, and jumping off of the rope swing that was clearly on someone’s private property.
The town of Knights Ferry is cool if you like old stuff. The covered bridge is one of the few left in CA and there are old buildings from the 1800s. There are two main companies that rent the rafts in the launch area, Sunshine Rafting and River Journey Adventures. We’ve used both of them and noticed no difference. In the end it’s all a bunch of knuckleheads on the river throwing buckets of water on each other. It usually took us about 3-4 hours to make it from Knights Ferry to the pull out area at Orange Blossom Park roughly 8 miles down. It’s mostly a float with some class II rapids, nothing intense just fun and scenic.
One year we had the pleasure of reaching Orange Blossom while the rock station was doing their Rock the River event with games and prizes. We played tug-o-war and I won the “Worst Swimsuit” contest. I’m pretty bummed I can’t find any pictures of that.