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4 Things to Expect From Your First Rafting Trip

4 Things to Expect From Your First Rafting Trip

If you haven’t been on the river it’s hard to know what to expect from your trip. Friends will try to convince you to go telling you it’s super fun or “hardcore,” but they rarely elaborate on why they feel that way.  Whitewater rafting can seem like a scary experience at first for some, but beyond the fear and hype of the adrenaline rush there is a truly world changing experience that rivers and remote canyons have to offer. So what can you expect from your first river trip?

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Connect with those around you

Deep in the canyons and gorges across the world there is one constant…cell service sucks. But this is a great thing if you want to get plugged in to those around you. Rafting precludes the possibility of being surrounded by technology and brings us back to our roots as humans. I once led a group of 3 generations on a 2 day trip. One of the youngest kids admitted to me that he really didn’t know Grampa, and he thought he was some strange old guy. Later on that evening around the campfire Grampa Don was recounting his stories of hitchhiking through Europe and the Middle East after the Korean War. None of his family even knew that he had been to Europe and the next day his grandson son said “Grampa is pretty cool”.

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Rafting at its core is a disorganized team sport, mostly because you can go at your boat’s pace. It is however a team sport that requires everyone to be involved to make a successful trip. Everyone paddles, everyone carries boats, everyone eats together, and everyone succeeds or fails together. It is the perfect team building and family bonding adventure. Your boat is typically a small group of people too, so that increases the intimate feel of the trip even if you are in a boat with many other people.

Get outdoors regardless of your fitness level

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You don’t have to be ready for a marathon to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine on a rafting trip. Class III trips are perfect for anyone 8 years old and up. My oldest guest was Grampa Don at 83 and he had a blast. This level of river trip is considered beginner to intermediate for good reason: Class III trips often have fun rapids spaced throughout the trip with a minimal level of fitness required. On every river in the world you are heading down hill so you get to let gravity do the work for you. Additionally an experienced guide  behind the stick is there to take care of all of your needs and to get you down the river safely. Experienced guides know how to read the water so well they can make it down without their crew even paddling, but what would the fun in that be? Guides are also trained to get maximum fun out of the river with minimal effort charging into big waves and soaking their crew. On hot summer days nothing is more welcome than a big wave crashing into the boat. Rivers are dynamic places with time for relaxation and time for pure excitement.

Understand the world itself

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Rafting trips are full of interesting interpretive facts, and guides are there to share the story of the world itself. Raft guides are more than just skilled boaters -- they are naturalists, hydrologists, geologists, botanists, and so much more. Guides study the natural world and share that wisdom with those around them; they love nothing more than to share how the river is the lifeblood of the mountains, and how the dynamic world of whitewater shapes everything around it. If you have kids and you are thinking of taking them to a natural history museum, try a rafting trip as an alternative to give them a hands on view of nature in action.

Live in the Moment

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Let’s face it with all of the distractions from your phone, to TV, social media, work, deadlines, holidays, and family-- when do we have time to just be? Living in the moment is hard, but on the river that’s all that matters. The river gives us a sense of absolute freedom to experience the world around us with nothing distracting us or holding us back. From the pure adrenaline rush of charging through a rapid, to gazing for hours at the vastness of the canyon, rafting is filled with moments which draw your mind to a singular focus. All of this allows you to get lost in a moment of bliss like watching your first sunset as a child.

So what’s holding you back? The river is a wonderland of awe and inspiration all you need to do is take the journey…


We want to say a huge thank you to Northwest Rafting Company for providing photos from their expeditions. 

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