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Western's
Fleet of River Rafts
Paddle Raft in Westwater Canyon

Why different river rafts?

Huckleberry Finn had the right idea with his raft…make it your home, and make it fit the kind of river you’re on - whatever shape or size. Western River carefully crafts each trip with the right combination and choice of rafts. As a pioneer in the rafting industry, since 1961, we’ve tinkered with the rubber raft, created some of the first “self bailing” floors back in the 1960’s, and even thought way outside the oval with the J-Rig.

In general, each raft type offers a different kind of ride through the waves, holds different amounts of cargo for multi-day expeditions, and also offers different modes of propulsion. Keep reading to learn about the qualities unique to each type of raft Western uses on the rivers we run.

Western’s Patented J-Rig - Big River Raft

J-Rig Raft Infographic

Western’s J-Rig Boat - “The Cadillac of the Colorado”

Flexible and “face forward” seating arrangements that create varying degrees of adventure, motorized for speedier travel between points of interest, and LOTS of “trunk” space for the ultimate in camping comfort and deluxe dining. The J-Rig was built for big waves and long expeditions through Grand Canyon and Cataract Canyon. Learn why they call the J-Rig the 4x4 Cadillac of the Colorado River.

Western’s Oar Rig River Raft

Western's Oar Rig Raft
Oar-rig raft in Cataract Canyon

Oar Rig Rafts »

Oar-rig Rafts are up to 18 feet long and hold cargo and/or up to 5 passengers. Long oars (oars, not paddles) are rigged into the frame at mid-ships to propel, pivot, and pound through almost any size whitewater rapid. On an oar-rig, you hold on tightly while your guide does all the work.

Western’s Paddle Raft

Paddle Raft fun in Westwater Canyon, Utah
Paddle Rafters give a

Paddle Raft »

A paddle raft is propelled by you, your guide, and a team of 6-8 fellow paddlers using paddles. (Don’t confuse the term “paddle” with “oar”… make your guides proud)! The guide will steer from the back and shout clear commands like “right paddle forward!” to line up the raft for the best ride through the rapids. This is very interactive and requires being sharp of mind, and decent of body. By the way, paddling hard is the best way to stay in the boat; your guide will explain the physics, and you’ll be amazed.

Western’s “Duckie” (Inflatable Kayak)

Duckie in high water

Inflatable Kayaks (“Duckies”) »

Inflatable Kayaks are a riot. Every rapid feels big in one of these, but they are bouyant (like a duck), and very maneuverable. You will get wet, and have to be prepared for anything in a Duckie. Guides can point you in the right direction, but paddling and steering are all up to you. Generally, duckies stay somewhere in the middle of the flotilla for safety boats below the rapids to catch kayakers turned swimmers!

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