What to Expect on Your White Water Rafting Trip

If you enjoy thrilling adventures, then I highly recommend a white water rafting trip! My family went a few summers ago and had an exhilarating experience. Our boys were seven and ten at the time, so this is an activity that is suitable for adventurous families! Keep reading to learn what to expect white water rafting if you’ve never been before.

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Choosing the Right Rafting Trip

First, you will need to choose the rafting trip that is right for you! There are typically different options that guided rafting companies provide. These range from scenic float trips to rafting trips in extreme rapids! Be sure to know what you can handle. We chose a Class 3 raft trip with our kids and it was a pretty intense work out! I suggest booking your raft trip as soon as you know the dates you will be traveling. These trips fill up quick!

  • Class 1: Scenic floats trips
  • Class 2: Non-thrilling, not many rapids
  • Class 3: Kid friendly – mild, easy, beginner level, expect to get wet
  • Class 4: Moderate
  • Class 5: Extreme, expert level
  • Class 6: Advanced, the most dangerous

What to Expect on Rafting Day

Upon arriving for our guided trip, we signed waivers and were fitted for life jackets. Then we moved into a room to watch the safety video. I won’t lie, watching this video made me really nervous. I was so worried about one of our boys falling out of our raft. Thankfully, it did not happen! But, we were prepared for what to do in case one of us fell out or if the raft flipped over. We also learned different commands that the guide would be calling out to us during the trip. It is really important to pay attention to the video, but the guides do review all of this information before venturing off for the day!

Once everyone was fitted for their gear and had viewed the safety video, we were then divided into groups and assigned a guide. We shared a raft with a man and his son, so there were six of us, plus our guide in one raft. We were given some time to chat with our groups because many were sharing rafts with new friends. Keep in mind, unless you are with a large party, you will likely be combined with others to fill the raft. Then, we helped the company load up rafts onto a trailer and we all hopped on a bus to head up to the mountains for our trip! During our ride, we reviewed more of the expectations and commands while enjoying the mountainside views along the way.

When we got to the spot where we’d begin the journey, we helped to unload the rafts and paddles, then joined our guide at the riverbank. He placed us where he felt we would be best in the raft. Jereme and I were together up front with Jake between us. Jett was right behind Jereme and the other two members of our group were in the back of the raft. This part of the river was flowing, but there weren’t rapids around us yet.

We were able to float for a bit before the river got wilder! We enjoyed getting to know our guide and the others in the raft. And we all asked our guide tons of questions, mine specifically was about the chances of our kids falling out of the raft. The guide was reassuring and said that he hadn’t had anyone fall out of any of his rafts so far that season and we were there in mid-July.

There were several spots in the river that did get pretty intense. We loved it though! The guide knew when and where those areas were, so he prepared us ahead of time and would tell us what side of the raft should paddle and when. All in all, it was such a fantastic experience and my family’s favorite adventure of our entire week in Colorado!

You should definitely expect to get wet and you should expect a full upper body workout. My arms were so sore the next day! But, it was totally worth it.

Best Time to Go White Water Rafting

Typically, the white water rafting season runs from May through September. The rivers will be flowing when the snow from the mountains melt, so you should plan to wait until at least the spring for this adventure. Our rafting trip was mid-July and we had a fantastic trip with the perfect amount of rapids for our family. Holidays and weekends will usually be more crowded, so if you can, try to book your trip on a week day!

What to Wear

I wasn’t really sure what to wear for the trip, so I packed us all dry fit athletic clothing. The boys wore their swim trunks with a dry fit top. I put my bathing suit on under my clothing. We also wore lightweight, quick drying, water shoes! They were very comfortable and fit securely under the grips we were instructed to put our feet in on the raft. We had the option to rent full body wetsuits, but chose not to. We were given life jackets, paddles, and helmets to use during our trip.  

What to Bring

I suggest bringing towels and an extra set of dry clothes and shoes to change into once you’re back from your rafting trip. We also made sure to bring sunscreen. I did not bring my phone or camera, but there was a photographer that followed us to different spots along the river and took photos of each raft. Packages were available to view and purchase after the trip was over for around $50. I also left my sunglasses behind because they didn’t really fit well on my face under the helmet that you will be required to wear.

The Company We Rafted With

We rafted on the Poudre River in Colorado with the company A Wanderlust Adventure. We chose their most popular rafting trip, Taste of Whitewater. This trip is a half day and is recommended for families! Prices for this trip start at $77 per person, but the price can change based on the date you select.

Where Else Can I Go Rafting?

Click here for a list of the best places to go rafting in North America!

If you’re adventurous, or you want to be, then this is definitely an activity that I highly suggest trying out. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any other questions!