The First Time Rafter: What Do I Need To Know?


A white water rafting adventure on the American River is an absolutely thrilling activity that can be enjoyed by folks of all ages and experience levels. Make sure that your first trip out on the river will be a memorable and enjoyable one can be a big concern, and making sure that you have an idea of what to expect and how best to prepare is important.

A Whitewater Rafting GroupOften, people have lots of questions about what they might need to get ready. Chief among them is usually what they should wear in the different seasons and what they need to bring along. When you book a trip, we send out information packets with directions, including everything you need to know to prepare yourself, but here are a few tips to get you started.

In our many years of guiding people through the rapids, we have witnessed almost everything – from having to make river shorts from a pair jeans to using duct-tape on flip-flops so they don’t fall off! Our advice is simple. If you follow the basic outline below, all you have to do is show up and be ready for fun!

Listen to Your Guide! They’re Looking Out For You

This should go without saying, but you should always take heed of your guide’s instructions. Some people make the mistake of not doing so and end up falling out or getting the tops of their ears, feet, or other sensitive areas sunburned! If you don’t follow the guidelines and end up in the river, we will probably have a laugh at your expense, so pay attention!

It’s also the guide’s duty to make sure that you’re staying safe at all times. No one wants to see a fellow paddler hurt due to the uncontrollable paddle, or other mistake, so keep in mind that the guidance provided is for everyone’s benefit.

Not only are our guides trained and certified to do their job, but they have spent enough time in the rafts to know the river, as well as how to safely navigate it. The guides are highly skilled and have personalities that will keep you entertained, so give them the attention they deserve.

Be Friendly and Open

A group of raftersDepending on the size of your party, you may be in a boat with anywhere from 2-6 other people that you will be meeting for the first time. Experience has shown that having a “Debbie Downer” or a “Nasty Nathan” on your raft can really put a damper on everyone’s fun, so don’t be that person. Introduce yourself and anyone else in your party and make conversation – the raft guides are great at helping this along with icebreaker games or fun stories from where they grew up or what they’ve seen on the river, but to make the most of your trip, you need to be open.

You’re all together on a raft for a couple hours – have fun, be considerate, and make new friends. You’re there to have fun and so is everyone else. River rafting can be a fantastic bonding experience if you’re in the right frame of mind and ready to have fun with your new friends.

Plan Your Wardrobe

You might not be heading for a night out on the town, but it’s important that you’re dressed appropriately for your trip.

  • Melissa-001-479x598Sunglasses are essential if there is any sun out whatsoever. The glare off the water is going to get to you. Not only does it make navigation difficult, but it could cause damage to your eyes, particularly on a full day trip. Be prepared.
  • If you are rafting in the fall or on a colder day, wetsuits are available, but in general, you can’t go wrong sticking with a pair of athletic shorts or swim trunks, as well as a non-cotton shirt. Some women who have joined us have mentioned that they would also recommend one-piece bathing suits.
  • Water shoes are best for footwear because they won’t bog you down should you fall out or go for a swim. Just make sure you have footwear that won’t slip off easily, or we may have to reach for our duct tape.
  • Many folks like to carry water bottles on their trips as well. The rafts do have d-rings, so that you can clip your bottle in without fear of losing it in choppy water.
  • Keep in mind that safety is always a priority. Helmets and life jackets are required at all times in the raft. These are provided for you to make sure that you are ready for anything.

Following these simple guidelines and being prepared will help to provide you with a great first time white water rafting experience. Many people who raft regularly fell in love with the sport on their very first ride, so you may discover that this is a hobby you want to return to over and over. Come on out and join us!

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