double clickThe L.A. Times Prescribes Whitewater Rafting as Best Possible Vacation for Summer of 2020
COVID-19 Updates: See what to expect here.

Whitewater Rafting May be the Safest Family Vacation in 2020

"If and when life returns to normal — whatever the heck that will mean — this spring or summer, one of the first things I want to do is get on a river with my kids, blast through frothy rapids, sleep under the stars and have some adventure. I know I’m not alone in that wish." Writes Brian E. Clark for the Los Angeles Times. Judging by the calls into our office during this quarantine, we can affirm that Brian is indeed NOT alone in the wish to return to the river. Maybe we have a unique clientele that really do find it harder than most to "sit on the shorelines of life" as we've been asked to do. Others need the break a rafting trip will provide to recharge the batteries. The Times article mentions David Baker, a Seattle doctor who has been on the front lines of battling the COVID-19 crisis. He's planning a trip in nearby Oregon with his wife and two children: "We’ll need it,” said Baker, who was quarantined for a short time because of his exposure to patients with COVID-19. “It’s been a strange and scary experience.”

Western certainly wants to echo (with a bull-horn) the idea that whitewater rafting may be the safest way to a family vacation this summer. We have weathered economic and other storms for the last 59 years because we believe in the value of river rafting for the human soul -including our own! If we could bottle it up and offer it like a tonic, we would do it, but this cure comes in the "doing of the thing".

The travel industry, as you know, has been hit hard by this shutdown, and we are no exception in the adventure-travel niche. We once thought, waaay back in March, that we would easily skirt past the trouble with a business model that is naturally conducive to social distancing, sunshine, fresh air, remote wilderness... and we were never wrong about all of that. What we didn't see was the flash flood of fears and needed safety measures, like National Park closures, that would create an entirely new rapid for us to scout, navigate and maneuver around.

At Western River, we've really not been doing much "sitting on the shoreline" during this quarantine. Instead, we've busied ourselves drafting and submitting operation plans to National Park Service boards, Bureaus of Land Management and associations within our own industry. As you would guess, the situation has changed so quickly it's been like shifting sand beneath our feet - or like water that is quickly rising and causing the rapid to change right in front of our eyes. But as restrictions begin to lift - with the new landscape a little more stable and defined, we see our operations plans beginning to find a hold in the river bank. It's a new and changed landscape, but we feel confident enough in what we see on the horizon to navigate further downstream. Our 2020 season is officially beginning. While whitewater rafting may be the safest way to vacation in 2020, we also understand that the decision to travel at this time is a personal one. If you are within driving distance to any of our offerings, you'll have much less standing in your way - and possibly more immediate availability than years before have afforded.

Cabin fever has its own symptoms and requires its own set of cures. The once-simple cure of "getting away from it all" is not so simple anymore, but there is a glimmer on the horizon that tells us to begin looking for our jackets (lifejackets) and stagger toward the door for some sunlight and fresh air. But how? Is it safe to go "out there... Barnaby"?

The short answer, Cornelius, is that it's never "safe" to do anything - even to sit still for too long. There's a time to move and a time to pause. With Western's plans in place (which are available to read here) you should feel confident that together we can mitigate the risks of this new and current situation while helping to cure the effects of cabin fever that we know are real. If you are feeling grumpy, irritable, listless and sick of confinement, then you're dehydrated - or you've got cabin-fever (or possibly both). If you can - or as soon as you can - come hydrate your soul on a river trip with us this summer.

Grand Canyon Upper Nankoweap Reflection
Kam Wixom
Kam began guiding in the Grand Canyon in 1991, met & guided with his wife in 2000, and is the proud daddy of 5 kids. He now works as the Marketing Director for Western River Expeditions.
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