We’ve all probably seen some inspiring nature photography of a professional kayaker or rafter plummeting down the white waters of some beautiful location and had our interest peaked because of it.

How do I do that? Is it possible to for me to do something like that? Do I need experience?

We’re going to tell you how you can go white water rafting because- yes it is possible and no you do not need experience (unless you want to become a professional kayaker and send yourself plummeting down a rapid). That’s cool too!

The point is that everyone has to start somewhere and we are going to point you in the right direction.

What is white water rafting?

Whitewater rafting is the literal use of a raft to navigate a river or other body of water. It is most commonly a recreational activity and perfect for the one in search of a unique adventure.

What about levels of difficulty?

Rivers have a rating scale in which you can become aware of the degree of difficulty (based on rapid size and need for technicality/experience).

There are levels 1 through 6 (6 being the most difficult) unless you are navigating the Grand Canyon which has a scale from 1 to 10.

If you are a beginner, you probably won’t go above a level 4. But have no fear, you will definitely get the adrenaline rush you’re looking for on a level 3 or 4 rapid.

What should you expect?

An experienced instructor will take on most of the work however it is a team effort and everyone needs to work together. You will typically have 6 to 8 people in your raft.

The raft is inflatable and designed to assist you in propelling and maneuvering yourself down the river and through the rapids.

Its flexibility will bounce you off of the rocks (instead of smashing into them) and easily keep you afloat when being twisted and turned around in the white water.

Expect to burn some calories! Rafting can burn about 300 per hour so make sure you eat a hearty breakfast.

You will show up to the site, sign a safety waiver, and your guide will most likely introduce themselves and give you information on the river.

He or she will tell you the proper safety precautions, the levels of the rapids you will be experiencing, and how to properly paddle and maneuver the raft.

What should you bring to the rafting site?

If you are going with a guide, they will provide the rafting gear (raft, paddles, helmet) but there are some other things you should prepare for.

Your site will most likely have lockers for you to leave your things in while you are rafting, or you can leave them in your car for when you get back.

  • Proper wet gear- prepare to get soaked! Also, bring a pair of shorts to avoid potential chaffing of the tush (ouch!)
  • Towels
  • Snacks and water
  • Sunscreen
  • Change of clothes

It’s also a good idea to look into the weather conditions before you plan your trip and the days leading up to the trip.

You want to ensure that you have the best experience possible and there is nothing like rafting down a beautiful river on a sunny day!

The question on everyone’s mind: What if you fall out?

Don’t be afraid! Your guide will tell you everything you need to know about what to do should fall out of the boat.

However, if it makes you nervous check out these safety tips so you are prepared before you get to the rafting site:

  • First and foremost stay calm! A clear mind is what will get you back in the raft quickly and efficiently
  • Remember what you learned in your safety briefing
  • As you fall, try to grab the side of the raft to pull yourself back in
  • Always try to be pulled in face first
  • If you find yourself floating down the river send your legs toward the surface of the water to avoid the rocks of the riverbed
  • If you get stuck in a hydraulic, curl into a ball and stall calm till it spits you out. Catch your breath at the surface. This is similar to what you do when caught in an undertow in the ocean.

It can not be stressed enough to stay calm. More than likely if you fall out you will be back in the boat within minutes of your departure or you’ll take a little float down the stream until someone can grab you. Remember to have fun! Your guide will take good care of you and ensure your safety.

Ray Goodwin gives a detailed video on safety that will adequately prepare you for your rafting experience.

If you want to read up on safety code you can find that here.

Where are the best places to go white water rafting?

There are beautiful places all over the world for whitewater rafting including:

  • Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, Arizona
  • Zambezi River, Zambia
  • Chilko River, British Columbia
  • Futaleufu River, Chile
  • Colorado River through Cataract Canyon, Utah
  • Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho
  • Tuolumne River, California

The United States is world famous for white water rafting and chances are you can find a great destination reasonably close in proximity to your primary location.

Whitewater rafting makes for the perfect family or group activity. Make it a family affair or gather up your friends, choose your destination together, and create memories you will all share for years to come.

Remember to do your research, pay attention to the directions given by your guide, and have a blast as you go on the adventure of a lifetime!