How can I Prepare to Go White Water Rafting?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Planning ahead can make your next white water rafting adventure a roaring success. Perhaps the most important decision you can make regarding your white water rafting trip is who to go with. If this your first time rafting, you may choose to go with a travel adventure outfitter that can organize all the details and provide an experienced guide to help you once you're in the river. Trips offered by outfitters range from easy half-day river trips to multi-day white water rafting trips including camping and hiking. If, however, you're an experienced rafter, there are many companies that will rent you the necessary equipment so you can enjoy the river by yourself or with your choice of friends.

For inexperienced rafters, companies recommend starting off with a class III trip. This provides a lot of excitement without too many risks or exhaustion. Senior citizens or families with young children may want to try a class II river or choose an oar boat trip, on which it's not necessary for all passengers to paddle.

To prepare for a white water rafting trip, start by making sure you meet all minimum requirements. While being a good swimmer is naturally an advantage, many non-swimmers also go on rafting trips, since wearing a Coast Guard approved buoyancy vest is mandatory. More important than being able to swim is being in good physical condition. White water rafting can be demanding, and you should be prepared to paddle along with your companions.


Bringing appropriate clothing is another must when going white water rafting. Company websites usually offer suggestions on what to bring depending on the time of year and weather. As a general rule, however, avoid wearing cotton, which retains water, and sandals, which can easily slip off. Choose synthetic materials for summer trips and consider renting a wet suit for spring and fall white water rafting.

Hats and sunglasses are a must in summer, as is sunscreen. It's also important to bring an extra set of clothes to change into after the trip. Even in summer, a synthetic or wool sweater is recommended, since the water can be cold enough to lower your body temperature by several degrees. Following these simple suggestions can help make your next white water rafting trip an experience you will remember for years to come.


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Post 3

@Iluviaporos - I would never recommend that people try to sneak into a white water rafting site anyway. It isn't a sport that should ever be taken for granted, even if you are taking a professional tour. It's not a ride at Disneyland and there isn't a guarantee of your safety at the best of times, let alone when you aren't staying inside the rules.

A white water rafting experience should always be undertaken with experts who know what they are doing, both with beginners and with the river itself. Any other arrangement is folly and could lead to a serious accident.

Post 2

@MrsPramm - Often it isn't done by lottery, but there are only so many slots per year for an area, and it's done on a first come, first serve basis, so it's definitely a good idea to plan ahead. You can always withdraw if you aren't able to make a particular time, but you won't be able to get in at the last minute if you want to go on a particularly famous or popular white water rafting trip unless you are quick to get your name down.

They have to limit the number of people going in a particular area for safety reasons, as well as to preserve the ecology. And rangers tend to take it seriously, so don't think you'll be able to just sneak in or anything.

Post 1

One thing I didn't realize until my sister became interested in white water rafting is that some of the more popular places don't allow you to just show up.

In order to raft down the Grand Canyon river for example, you have to place your name in a lottery each year and hope that you'll eventually be drawn out.

So, if you think you are going to want to go to certain places, one of the things you might need to do in order to prepare is to put your name down, even if you aren't quite ready to go, so that you'll get a head start on the draw.

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