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Campground Resources

How to Plan for a River Rafting Trip

Camping out as part of a whitewater-rafting trip can be an unforgettable experience. Follow these steps to make sure you're properly prepared.  And check out the Rafting The West website to learn about the rivers and see photos of river campsites!

Step 1:
Pack a lantern, flashlight and something to start your campfire.

Step 2:
Bring sleeping bags and a tent that comply with local weather conditions.

Step 3:
Pack enough food each day for every person (including snacks), easy-to-prepare lunches and something simple to cook in the evening. Aim for 3,000 calories a day per person, with supper being the main meal.

Step 4:
Bring water-purification pills or a pump.

Step 5:
Stop early enough in the day to set up camp and eat while the sun is still up. If you know the river well, decide on a site before hand, but also have a backup site in mind in case yours is already taken.

Step 6:
Pack out all garbage in a plastic bag, and bury human waste. Larger groups may want to consider bringing a portable toilet and packing out human waste as well.

Step 7:
Have fun and be careful.

Tips & Warnings
  • Pack as lightly as possible, but definitely bring an extra set of warm dry clothes for cooler night hours after a day of rafting.
  • To get an early start the next day, pitch your tent or lay your sleeping bags where the sun will hit them early in the morning, not under a tree.
  • Secure your raft tightly when you set camp - you don't want to wake to find that it floated away during the night.
  • River rafting is an inherently dangerous activity that can result in serious injury or death. We recommend that you seek proper training and equipment before attempting this activity.
  • Always wear a life vest when rafting.
  • When you find your site, check around for possible hazards and take precautions against them.
River Rafting Check List

Whitewater rafting is a fun and exciting way to spend an active healthy day in the great outdoors, connecting with the family in a way that's sure to live on in your and your kid's memories for years. In order to insure these memories are ones your kids will reflect upon fondly later in life and not the subject matter of sessions with a therapist, proper trip preparation is key.

First off, check with outfitters to make sure they offer a family-friendly adventure. Some trips can be fairly aggressive and therefore not appropriate for younger kids. Generally, kids as young as eight are allowed to raft when accompanied by an adult, but keep in mind that age restrictions vary on different rivers and trips.

As a parent, you know the importance of having the right equipment on hand when it's needed, especially when you're away from home. Therefore, I highly recommend bringing the following items to help the whole family have a great day on the river.

  1. Old sneakers - In and out of the raft, a good pair of shoes is essential.
  2. Non-cotton clothing - Wet cotton dries slowly and can make you cold even on warm days.
  3. Swimsuit - Plan on getting wet with plenty of opportunities to swim.
  4. Waterproof sunscreen - Sun intensity increases on the water, so a high SPF sunscreen that won't wash off is a great call.
  5. Sunglasses - Again, sunlight can be intense on the water. Just make sure to use a sunglass retainer strap to avoid deep sixing your shades.
  6. Bug repellant - Never hurts to have a bit on hand in case you run into hungry mosquitoes.
  7. Warm, dry clothes - A change of clothes at the end of the day will keep everyone comfortable.
  8. Snacks - Check with you outfitter to see if food will be supplied.

Follow these simple preparation guidelines, and you're sure to have a fun, exciting, and rewarding family experience. So grab the family and get on the river!