Whitewater rafting is one of the most exciting trips you can plan for group and family outings. With so many different trip options, it’s easy to cater rafting to your ideal level of excitement. For families with large age ranges, a mild rafting trip down a lazy river is a perfectly suitable trip. For groups of teens, adults, or more experienced adventurers, a more adrenaline-pumping trip is necessary. If you’re planning a trip for one of these daring groups, follow these tips to keep it action-packed.
Aim for Higher Rapids Classes
Rapids are sorted into classes based on water turbulence and the amount of skill necessary to raft them. You can think of these classes like rafting levels, with Class I being suitable for beginners and Class V for experts. If the goal is a heart-pounding whitewater experience, we suggest choosing a route that contains Class III-V rapids.
Class III Rapids
This level of rapids is generally rated as moderate. There is plenty of splashback thanks to powerful rapids and strong eddies, but they are doable for most skill levels.
Class IV Rapids
Class IV is more advanced because waves and turbulence are less avoidable than with lower class rapids. This whitewater demands more precise maneuvering.
Class V Rapids
These difficult rapids definitely require higher fitness levels. There are long stretches of intense rapids, making rafting them more demanding and inherently riskier.
One thing to note is that rafting trips rarely deal with only one class of rapids. Most rivers are comprised of various sections, each with a different rapid class. You’ll likely have to pick a trip with a range of classes, such as II-IV or III-V. Then, you’ll raft through different parts of the river, each with a rating in that range.
Pick a Trip with a View
A river is only as exciting as its surroundings. Choose a river that meanders through a lush valley or deep into a forest for a memorable rafting experience.
For example, Royal Gorge white water rafting is breathtaking. The Arkansas River is 1000 feet below the tops of the canyons, so you’re right in the pit of the gorge. This section of the river also has notoriously great whitewater. At class III-V rapids, you’re sure to get soaked. If that doesn’t leave your heart pounding, the views sure will.
Pick a trip based on the surrounding sights is critical for adventurous whitewater trips. Rafting into deep rumbling valleys will trump going doing the lazy river in a boring meadow any day.
Go During the Right Season
For an exciting trip, go early on in the rafting season. Usually, the best times are late May, June, or early July. Tides are higher during the first half of rafting season, thanks to the recent runoff from mountain snowmelt. High tides make for stronger whitewater and a more action-packed trip.
Go Double Duty on Your Adventure Trip
Why just stick to rafting when you can add other adventures to your trip, too? Some rafting companies offer package trips so that you can go on multiple adventures on the same day. If you’re just visiting, this is a great way to see a mountain range or landmark from various perspectives while also maximizing adventure.
If you raft near the Royal Gorge, for example, you can see the gorge from multiple vantage points during one trip. Raft down below in the morning. Then, see the gorge from up above with a zip-lining excursion or jeep tour in the afternoon. If you plan a trip for other rivers, you can sometimes go mountain biking or rock climbing in the same area.
Go For the Adrenaline Boost
If you want a serious adrenaline boost on your upcoming rafting trip, keep these tips in mind for a good time. As always, though, practice basic rafting safety. Go with a knowledgeable guide, follow directions, and wear proper equipment. Once you’ve got rafting safety down pat, you’ll be ready to hit the whitewater. Then, with these adventure tips, you’re sure to leave the raft soaking wet, grinning, and thrilled to the bone.