An Introduction to White Water Rafting

White water rafting trips are an exhilarating adventure deep into the heart of America’s pristine wilderness. Do-it-yourself white water rafting trips can be dangerous, especially for beginners.

Below are some adventurous tips for conquering white water rafting trips:

Starting Out – Always start slow when white water rafting. Rapids vary between Class I, which are flat and easy, to Class VI, which are extremely difficult, even for advanced rafters. Begin in sequential order, starting with Class I rapids and gradually working up to Class II. If Class II rapids are easily maneuvered, adventurists can likely progress to more advanced rapids. It’s highly recommended that white water rafters wear helmets to protect against bumps, scrapes and dangerous head injuries.

Crew – Having an experienced crew is necessary, especially when it means paddling for miles or handling an overturned raft. Whether it’s hiring an experienced rafting guide or bringing an expert friend along, this is highly recommended for novices.
Safety – Learning to swim safely in a river will help prevent injuries. If rapids knock someone out of the raft, it’s best to float downstream while lying on one’s backside with legs extended in front. Only swim with the current to an exit point that offers safety.

River Taming – Becoming an expert rafter doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s something that takes years of cultivated knowledge. The Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School both offer excellent instruction for people looking to become expert guides or rafters. It is also recommended that before tackling Class III rapids without an expert that adventurists take a three-day safety course in white-water rescue.

Research – Never head down a river blindly. Unlike mountain biking, running or hiking, it’s impossible to simply turn back when a river’s rapid pull is forcing a raft downstream. This is an additional benefit of hiring an expert guide, as they know local rivers and tributaries like the back of their hands.

Planning – Unlike mountain bikes that offer the safety and comfort of brakes, rafts don’t offer such advantages. This means that it’s important to be a fast, forward-thinker, looking down the river and planning for potential obstacles and rapids. Always scout routes in advance to avoid unnecessary injuries.

River Rescue – Impossible alone, river rescue is often difficult. Adventurists should always notify people of intended white water rafting routes and never assume that a cellular phone is reliable, as cell service can be poor in remote areas. (For adventure fans that saw “127 Hours,” this movie highlighted the importance of having a buddy system, especially in the wilderness.)

Holiday River Expeditions offer a wide variety of white water rafting vacations, including Colorado river rafting, Utah river rafting, Idaho river rafting, mountain biking trips, family trips, women’s retreats, Baja trips, multi-sport combination adventures, specialty expeditions and youth group trips. 

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