6 Tips for Families Going White Water Rafting

6 Tips for Families Going White Water Rafting

White water rafting is a fantastic day out for the family, but there is some planning and preparation involved to ensure everything goes without a hitch. Lucky for you, Ben at Echo Canyon River Expeditions has provided six tips for the perfect family rafting trip. Take it away Ben…

It’s summertime, and you’re looking for a new activity for the whole family. Maybe you’ve done the lazy beach vacations, or maybe your family is more of the winter vacation type, trekking to the mountains to chase fresh snow. While all of these are great and have provided your family with amazing memories, it’s always nice to try something new.

Family rafting trips are a great option for the whole gang. It might seem like a lot to take on at first, but with some preparation and planning, your family will be sure to have an unforgettable and adventurous time on the river.

1. Pick the Right River

For your family rafting excursion, it’s important to plan ahead and look up current river flows if you’re rafting a runoff fed river. In many states, rivers are fed by the snowmelt starting in summer months when warmer temperatures start to break down the winter snow. If you’re bringing young children along, try not to plan a rafting trip during peak runoff season.

Although water levels are constantly changing, high water levels occur during early summer months, typically late May through late June. For medium water levels, it’s best to hit the river from late June through mid-August. For low water flows and easy rapids, plan your family rafting trip for early May to the end of August.

A quick online search for the Unites States Geological Survey can give you current water conditions nationwide. For families with young children or first time rafters, it’s a good idea to stick to class I and II rapids.

2. Find a Rafting Outfitter for Your Family Rafting Trip

Unless you have some rafting experience under your belt, along with the knowledge of planning your own rafting excursion, it’s a good idea to book your family white water rafting trip through a local outfitter.

By booking a trip with professionals, you’ll have a highly-trained raft guide with you every step, or paddle, of the way. Rafting guides are familiar with every stretch of the river that you’ll be exploring, and can prepare you for any upcoming rapids or obstacles that you may need to paddle around.

The other advantage of using an outfitter is the cost savings of not having to buy your own equipment. If your family enjoy rafting, you can always look to get your own raft in time.

3. Remember to Pack the Essentials

Although your rafting guide is sure to provide some safety essentials like a first aid kit and life jackets, it’s never a bad idea to bring your own. Try bringing a small waterproof case where you can put things like band aids, allergy medication, or ointment for insect bites & stings.

It’s always good to be prepared on your while white water rafting, so consider bringing an EpiPen just in case, whether or not you think you might need it.

Of course, don’t forget the waterproof sunblock. Some high SPF sunscreen applied liberally and often will keep you and your family from getting sunburn or even worse, possible sun poisoning.

4. Wear the Right Clothes for your Family Rafting Trip

During your family rafting excursion, you should plan on getting wet. Even if you’re sticking to lower class rapids such as I and II, it’s a good idea to wear clothes that won’t stick or weigh you down upon getting wet.

Try wearing a bathing suit underneath some breathable fabric, like common athletic clothing that will dry quickly. Wearing breathable, quick-drying shoes is also a good idea, such as athletic sandals or water shoes.

If wearing sunglasses, think about attaching a basic eyewear retainer, basically a strap attached to the glasses that go around your neck. This will help make sure you don’t lose your shades if the river starts getting bumpy.

Often, rafting outfitters will have “splash jackets” for you to use, which can help keep you warm and dry during your family rafting trip.

5. Consider Bringing Your Own Snacks and Drinks

We all know how hungry kids can get while out and about, so try bringing some snacks and drinks to keep them satisfied until lunch time. While many rafting outfitters have restaurants on site, it’s never a bad idea to bring your own food, especially if you have some picky eaters on board.

Don’t feel like taking the time to pack lunches? No worries! Call around to some rafting companies to see if they have a restaurant on-site that’s kid-friendly. Some outfitters even include packed lunches and snacks with the rafting trip for a small fee, so it’s worth looking into.

And of course, don’t forget to bring plenty of water! Staying fed and hydrated will go a long way for the everyone during your trip.

6. Look for a Rafting Outfitter that Offers Photography Packages

Your family rafting experience is something you’ll never forget, but surely you’ll want some pictures to go along with it. Some rafting companies can rig up waterproof Go Pro cameras to the front of the raft, to take pictures and video throughout the whole trip. This is a great addition to your family rafting trip since you’ll be too busy paddling to snap photos yourself.

Waterproof cameras strapped to the front of your raft are an amazing way to get beautiful, candid shots of your whole crew paddling down the rapids in excitement!

About the Author: Ben Sack is the General Manager of Echo Canyon River Expeditions, Colorado’s largest white water rafting outfitter. He’s also a raft guide, photographer and a father of two boys. He writes to inspire the adventurer in all of us to get out and explore our rivers. (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin)

Ben Sack 
General Manager 

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  1. I agree with you in that it is important to make sure you plan ahead and find the best river flow to make your family’s water rafting a safe and fun experience. It makes sense that keeping an eye on the rivers you are interested in can help you find the best time to plan your family’s rafting experience and avoid putting them in danger. Personally, I would want to make sure we get the gear we need and know and understand all the rules and regulations concerning rafting before we set off.


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