Get Ready for Rafting Trips
First, honestly assess your abilities and interests by answering the following questions: Is this your first time rafting or are you an old river rat looking for new rivers? Are you a thrill seeker or are you a bit timid when you try something new?
I've guided everyone from little kids to grandparents down all kinds of whitewater, which is the beauty of whitewater rafting: Anybody can do it. Still, you'll want to work up to the big stuff. If you're a novice, then start with an easy river rated at Class III. Add a few Class IV rapids if you're adventurous by nature (see chart below). Hold off on the intense Class V until you've sampled some solid Class IV rapids during big water.
Choosing a river and guide service
When you know what level of trip you're after, the next step is to select the river that offers the kind of rafting you're looking for. Every region of the globe has raftable rivers. In the United States most states offer rafting. Departments of tourism offer information on rafting as well as a plethora of other recreational opportunities in their state. The Internet is also a good place to get overwhelmed with all kinds of information on rivers and whitewater rafting.
Some suggested questions you might pose: How long has the company been in business? How long have the current owners managed it? How long has the current ownership been licensed to take passengers for hire? How many trips a year do they do on average?
Other questions might include: Do they use self-bailing rafts? Do they offer vegetarian fare at the lunch? Is there any camping or lodging near the launch?
A good rafting company will include most everything you need in its price. What is everything? You should get wetsuits if they are needed, splash gear, a PFD (life jacket), and a helmet if required. That's just the basics. Some outfitters provide lunch, some don't. The lunch can be anything from cheap sandwiches, chips, and soda pop on the riverside to a full-blown catered lunch. I prefer the latter myself. Ask ahead of time what kind of meal they serve. Of course, the fee should also include an experienced guide in your boat and shuttle service.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication