If you’re thinking of taking a short family trip but are looking for something different with a little adventure, then look no further! Here we have compiled a list of our top ten river trips you can take in America. These trips can be fun for the entire family, and you’ll never have to worry about being bored. A river trip can be a great way to get your heart pounding and see some pretty amazing natural scenery along the way.
The rivers that we mention here are set within the most beautiful natural parks you could imagine. You can always couple the river trip along with a whole weekend camping trip full of hikes too. If you’re looking for a trip that will combine some local wildlife watching, we have options for that, too.
However, when going on these types of trips, you should ensure that you and your group are taking all of the correct safety precautions to enjoy it to the maximum. Whitewater rafting is a great trip for the family, as long as you follow some basic steps. This will mean you can look back on this family trip with fond memories. Here are some of our tips for staying safe and being prepared for your whitewater rafting trip.
Always Wear a Life Jacket
You must ensure that you and your entire group will be wearing a life jacket while out on the water. Not only this, but life jackets must be worn correctly to ensure they will keep you safe. Before getting on your raft, make sure that all the buckles on the life jacket are correctly clipped, and the jacket is the right size for each person. It should feel snug against your body, and you shouldn’t be able to pull it over your head.
Wear a Helmet
Even if the waters are calm where you are, you should always make sure to wear a helmet. This will ensure that you are prepared for any unsuspecting changes in water behavior.
Choose a Reputable Guide or Company
Make sure you’ve done your research about what kind of company or personal guide will be taking care of you. They must know what they’re doing to ensure that your whole group is kept safe.
Always Pay Attention to Your Guide
Your guide will be there for an excellent reason. While out on the water, it is easy to sit back and enjoy the breathtaking scenery that some of these popular routes will offer. However, you must always listen closely to your guide and what they’re telling you to do, especially if the rapids are a little more rough and dangerous. Your guide will ensure that your trip will be as safe and as enjoyable as possible, so you must pay attention while on the water.
Before you even step into the raft, your guide should give you a very detailed instructional talk about the water behaviors and what you can expect while out there. Ensure that you and your entire group are listening carefully to these instructions. This way, you will be kept as safe as possible. Continue to pay attention to your guide while you are out on the raft. This will mean that you are ready for any surprises or changes in the water.
Know the Swimming Techniques
Should you fall out of the boat at any time – which does happen while white water rafting – you need to be aware of the correct swimming techniques and how to get back into the boat. There are two techniques if you fall into the river. The first one, ‘Down River Swimmer’s Position,’ means to swim on your back.
Make sure you keep your head up so that you can see where you’re going. This is a safe way to swim downstream in a river. Should you see any rocks in front of you, you can use your feet to protect yourself. The second position is swimming on your stomach, in the direction of where you want to go.
Have the Right Clothing for The Day
Wearing the right, weather-appropriate clothing while you’re on your river trip is important so that you’re comfortable. Wearing a wet suit and proper river shoes will ensure that you’re not cold, and you will be comfortable in the boat, even all day long! Research the weather conditions before you embark on your trip. If it’s going to be a very sunny day, then don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen.
We know how difficult it can be to remember to drink water while out on the raft, especially when you’re going through an exciting and tense bit of water. But you and everyone in your group must make sure to rehydrate while sailing through the more calm areas of the water. Rafting is a tiring sport, and you can easily become dehydrated while out on the water, especially if it’s a hot sunny day! Make sure everyone on the raft has access to some water throughout the journey.
Learn How to Use the Equipment
If you have chosen a reputable company to take your trip with, then the guides will show you how to use all the gear needed for the day. Making sure that you are fully up to speed with the paddle is vital to decrease your risk of accidents. Not only that – it generally makes the activity much more enjoyable. One of your hands should be at the base of the paddle.
The other hand should be on the shaft, at the T handle. Having your hands in these positions will ensure that you have maximum control of the paddle, and won’t accidentally hurt anyone or knock them off the boat and into the water. If you’re ever unsure of how to use the paddle properly, then always ask your guide for advice.
Stay Calm While on the Raft
This is one of the most important pieces of advice that we can give. You will probably hear your guide tell you this many times, too. During white water rafting trips, there will be times when the water can get a little bit dangerous and intense. Sometimes you may be taken by surprise by the water.
It’s vital that you stay calm and do not panic. If you start to panic, you won’t be able to listen to your guide properly, and you won’t be able to work to the full capacity to keep yourself safe. By remaining calm and carefully listening to your guide, you and your group will get through whatever the water throws at you.
Now that you’ve read our top tips for keeping comfortable and safe out on the water, we can move on to our top 10 favorite places to take a river trip in America. You’re sure to find a destination that suit all your needs and preferences for your next family trip!
Best River Trip Destinations in America
Labyrinth Canyon, Utah
First up on our list is a Flatwater river trip, meaning that it’s great for the entire family. Even beginners will enjoy this trip! This trip is suitable for rafts and kayaks of all shapes and sizes. To get the most suitable weather for kayaking on this river, visit the Labyrinth Canyon in Spring or Fall time. During this trip, you will experience amazing scenery and travel through Utah’s red rock canyons. If you’re looking for adventure, this may not be the best choice for you. The Labyrinth Canyon trip is extremely calm and relaxing.
Nahatlatch River, British Columbia
Number two on our list of the top ten river trips in America is the Nahatlatch River in British Columbia. This river trip is among the Canadian mountain wilderness, so it offers some of the most amazing views on your trip. As it’s so far into the wilderness, there are high chances of you seeing some wildlife out there too; for instance, bears. This river trip is for all adventure lovers out there. The white water rafting on the Nahatlatch River is top-rated and extremely fast-paced.
We recommend only bringing the entire family along if they have experienced white water rafting before. Part of the trip even includes plunging into a vertical walled canyon. The nearest town, Vancouver, is three hours away from here, so this is a great choice if you want to couple it with a camping trip. Many other activities are available nearby, including mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing, so your family will never be short of things to do on this trip.
The Rio Grande, Texas
Number three on our list is the Rio Grande in Texas. This river trip is unique as it offers you the chance to kayak through the desert! While you are making your way downstream, you will see your fair share of cactus-filled landscapes. Totaling 191.2 miles in distance, there are plenty of rivers to journey down for a long weekend away. When you reach the 15-mile point of the trip, you’ll hit part of the river titled ‘Rockslide Rapid.’
This section of the river is for the adventure lovers. It’s a rapidly flowing section of the river, making it perfect for white water rafting. After the adventure, you will then be able to relax and watch out for some wildlife, including falcons and coyotes. Once your day trip is done, you can enjoy a relaxing night of camping under the stars in the desert!
Tuolumne River, California
Number four on our list is a perfect choice for those looking for a white water rafting adventure. Tuolumne River in California offers breathtaking scenery and some of the best waters for white water rafting. The river begins in the beautiful Yosemite National park and continues into Cherry Creek. The Cherry Creek section of the river has been boasted as one of the most intense and best stretches of water for white water rafting in all of North America.
Many parts of the river are calm enough to relax and take in the amazing scenery on offer. The Main Tuolumne section is an alternative to Cherry Creek if you don’t wish to go for intense white water rafting, and can be done over two or three days if you’re taking your time. While you’re on this trip, you have the Yosemite National Park right on your doorstep for some beautiful hikes!
Colorado River, Arizona
Number five is the perfect choice for anyone who wants to couple a river trip with one of the most spectacular sites in all of North America: The Grand Canyon. The entire trip is 226 miles and offers some of the best scenery out of all the trips mentioned here on this list. Given that it’s a hotspot for tourism, there are many tour packages to choose from. You can choose to spend up to 16 days mixing white water rafting, camping, and hiking into your trip to the Grand Canyon.
Gulkana Wild River, Alaska
Number six is the perfect choice for those looking for a white water rafting adventure over a long weekend trip. The Gulkana Wild River in Alaska can be completed over a three day weekend, and will definitely keep the entire family amused! The scenery during this river trip will provide you with the Wrangell Mountain range in the background. If you choose to take this three day River Trip, you will experience calm and floating periods, where you can enjoy the breathtaking views, coupled with more exciting and intense periods.
This area provides numerous opportunities for fishing, making it a great location for a long weekend of a variety of activities. There are many opportunities to experience the local wildlife. There are over 33 species of mammals and over 59 species of birds to find. This trip along the Gulkana Wild River will definitely not disappoint!
Arkansas River, Colorado
Next up on our list is the Arkansas River in Colorado. If you live near Colorado, then the Arkansas River is the perfect destination for a short weekend trip for some exciting white water rafting adventures. This river trip will take you through the Rockie Mountain Range, a glacial valley, and eventually to the canyon of Royal Gorge. It’s the perfect trip for a mix of adventure and scenery.
While you are at this destination, you can also take part in mountain biking and hikes through the local mountains. The nearest town also has many bars and restaurants to choose from if you need a break from nature. This destination is one of the best choices for keeping an entire family entertained for a long weekend trip away.
Chattooga River, Georgia
The Chattooga River in Georgia runs an impressive 58 miles, so you have plenty of water to make this river trip last for an entire long weekend. There are many ranges of rapids that you can choose from along this route, from Class I to Class V, meaning there is definitely a variety of levels for the entire family to choose from.
You will pass through the Sumter National Forest, providing you with the spectacular scenery of forests, mountainous woodland, and local wildlife. This river also features in the film Deliverance, so you can feel like you are on the movie set while floating down the water.
The American River, California
Number 9 on our list of top river trip destinations is another place in California. If you take the North Fork trip along The American River, you can do this as an overnight trip. This is perfect if you wish to take a river trip but don’t have much time on your hands! The North Fork section of this river boasts the most challenging environment for white water rafting, so this is definitely a trip for adventure lovers.
Along this route, you can marvel at the wonderful huge granite boulders. Some of these boulders reach 4000 feet above the river! This section of the American River is actually classed as one of America’s ‘Wild and Scenic Rivers.’ If you are looking for a highly challenging route for white water rafting, along with some of the most amazing scenery in North America, this is the destination for you!
Deschutes Wild River, Oregon
Last up on our list is a famous river trip to take in Oregon. If you are searching for a short day trip, this may be the perfect choice for you. This is an extremely popular choice for families looking for a short break out in nature. The river boasts great white water rafting experiences, without being too difficult. This makes it perfect for the entire family to enjoy.
It’s also an incredibly popular choice for fishing if you wish to couple up your river trip with some other activities. The route along this river will provide you with amazing views of a canyon that reaches 2,600 about the water level. There are also plenty of opportunities to see the local fish and wildlife in action.
There you have our complete guide for your next river trip, from advice to think about before you embark on your trip to our top ten choices of destinations. We are sure you’ll find the perfect destination for you and your family to enjoy on your next long weekend away together. Remember to follow our top tips to ensure that you and your entire group will be kept as safe as possible. You’re sure to have an incredibly successful and enjoyable trip!