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What to Expect on a Whitewater Rafting Trip


Thank you for your inquiry about our Grand Canyon /Colorado River rafting tours.  I assume you are speaking of the Grand Canyon 6 or 7-day trip in your inquiry.  We have guests in the 50s and 60s who do very well on the trip and since you say you and your husband are both fit the trip would be very appropriate for you.  Here is a trip summary link from our website.

Below is the information we give to our guests about ‘What To Expect on a Rafting Trip".

Welcome to Western River.  We want to make sure that the vacation package you have selected is an adventure of a lifetime. Rest assured, we will make every possible effort to ensure your comfort and safety while traveling with us. We have over a fifty year history of safe and satisfied guests, and we are excited to have you join their ranks.

During the pre-trip planning process, we often receive a number of questions related to choosing which trip is best for you, the nature of a river trip, what to expect during the trip, and what degree of physical conditioning is required for a river trip. While we have found that we can accommodate a wide range of abilities on all of our rafting trips, the better prepared you are, the more you will enjoy yourself.

A Typical Day on the River

After meeting your guides you will be given a trip orientation that will include how and where you can sit on the rafts, how to hold on, and safety precautions while on the river.  A typical day will include rafting for a few hours at a time, stopping for scenic side-canyon hikes, bathroom breaks, lunch and possible swimming opportunities.  Visiting with new-found friends and learning river lore and geology from our well-trained guides adds to the enjoyment of your day.  After a full day of learning and fun we arrive in camp.  Guests will be allowed to find their favorite campsite and then return to the rafts for the famous “fireline” – the way we load and unload rafts.  Your help in passing the gear off the boat is greatly appreciated, however if you have physical restrictions or limitations that would prohibit you from participating you are not required to help.  The first evening in camp, the guides will give a demonstration on how to easily assemble the cots and tents and will be available to help you if you need additional assistance.   After setting up your campsite you may hear the call for ‘hors d’oeuvres.  This is a fun time to visit and review your day with your fellow rafters.  The call for ‘dinner’ will follow.  When dessert is served your guide will give instructions on what to expect for the coming day.

The next morning you will awake to the call from your guides – “coffee ready”.  A short time later they will call “breakfast”.  You’ll have a chance to enjoy eating before returning to your campsite to take down your tent and cot and pack up your belongings in your dry bag.  After bringing your bag down to the boats, guests participate in the fire line once again and you are off on another fun-filled day of adventure.

River Rafting/A Participatory Trip

A river trip is an adventure.  While our guides are prepared to assist you with any of your needs during the trip, it is by nature, a participatory trip. This includes helping to load and unload boats (a fire line method of passing the guest’s waterproof bags on and off the boat), setting up camp, hiking, and holding on through the rapids. There is also an element of undeniable risk inherent in any adventure-based activity that you need to carefully consider.

Participant Safety

Our primary concern is participant safety. We have experience accommodating persons with a wide range of physical challenges, disabilities, or medical and health conditions.  Please consider these conditions in making your choice of river adventures.  Medical help is hours away on a river trip. Please check with your physician prior to your trip if you have any medical or health condition or if you are taking any medications, and then notify us of how we can better help you with these conditions. 

Environmental Considerations

The nature of an outdoor trip is that weather conditions can fluctuate greatly due to heat, sun, wind, or rain during the prolonged course of several days. We have found that in some people the fact of age, weight, lack of conditioning, heart or other disease, can create additional hardship that diminishes the suitability or enjoyment of this type of vacation.

Physical Requirements for Guests

There are some physical requirements that our guests need to be able to meet:

  • Fit into a Type 5 Whitewater Life Jacket (maximum chest size 52” required by the National Park Service).
  • Ability to grip securely ropes provided for handholds while running the rapids. 
  • Enough agility to climb on and off the rafts.  Depending on type of raft this could be as much as a 2-3-foot step up and often on wet and slippery surfaces.
  • Ability to navigate uneven terrain on hikes and in camp.
  • Carry your own dry bag which will include your 20-pound duffel bag along with the sleeping bag and ground cover we provide.

Realize that if you are unable to meet all of these requirements, it will not only detract from your enjoyment of the trip, but can also jeopardize your safety and the safety of others on the trip with you. The demands of an outdoor trip are not for everyone. Our Acknowledgment of Risk Form describes some of these risks and the possible consequences, and we need you to carefully consider these. Your reservation and signature on the form tells us you are willing to assume personal responsibility for the many risks involved and the personal choices you make. We do not want to frighten or discourage you, but it is important for you to know in advance what to expect and to be aware of the inherent risks.

We would be most happy to discuss the trip with you in even more detail.  Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you.  Are you planning a trip for the 2011 season or for 2012?

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