Whitewater rafting is a must-do adventure for thrillseekers and fun seekers who love the outdoors. The Olympic and recreational rafting sport, which involves navigating and paddling an inflatable raft through river rapids, is a wild way to see a bit of nature while screaming and holding on for dear life. Unlike other outdoor recreational activities like snowboarding or rock climbing, rafting does not necessarily require prior experience or lots of skill, so it’s a great choice for anyone who loves an adrenaline rush or an outdoor adventure.
Rafting excursions usually last between three to six hours, but many companies offer specials and different packages. Some even let you customize your package to best fit your adventure style. So whether you are a solo rider or a parent to younger kids, usually six and up, you will have no problem finding great adventures in which everyone can take part. Guides will spend time going over the safety precautions and gear, as well as spending time educating new and inexperienced rafters how to paddle and navigate their raft through the rapids.
Where to raft? There are plenty of locations across the United States to go rafting. The location you choose depends on the type of scenery you wish to see as well as the level of difficulty. It all comes down to the water level you and your group prefers, as well river widths, obstacles, and turbulence of the water. Many people think of the western United States when they think of whitewater rafting, with the Rocky Mountains in the background, wide rivers, and rough rapids. But there are more locations than just Colorado. From Idaho to California, and even Mexico or British Colombia for those looking outside the US, the west coast offers plenty of locations for rafting. Surprising to many, the east coast also offers many spectacularly beautiful and fun rafting locations. The eastern and northern areas of Georgia and South Carolina near Chattanooga are popular with tourists as the area is beloved by outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Maine all offer great locations for rafters looking for a variety of scenery and rafting opportunities.
Similar to a lot of other outdoor activities, whitewater rafting is usually seen as a seasonal sport. Whether rafting through rivers on the east coast or west, it’s likely you will be hard-pressed to find a company open to scheduling guests, trainers, and equipment for rafting excursions through the winter months of December to March. Though not always recommended, that is not to say you can’t provide your own equipment and raft solo or with friends.
Certain areas, like Washington, have more winter rafters and enthusiasts who enjoy the thrill of colder weather. Many rafters prefer the rainy and foggy days for the ways the differing weather adds to the river’s flow and scenery. So, while rafting is usually considered a summer sport, there’s always those few who enjoy the extra challenge of bundling up and conquering the roaring winter rapids. Do your research and reach out to different excursion companies to find the best rafting experience for you and your group.
This article, Colorado’s top vacation destinations this summer, was written by Ryan Thomas for Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting. Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting has guided thousands of whitewater rafting trips on Clear Creek and throughout Colorado.