10 Things River Veterans Don’t Do

 In Gear & Equipment, Rafting Safety, Wilderness Aware Rafting

Whether this is your first time whitewater rafting (Woohoo!) or you are looking for some pro tips to improve your next trip, I consulted with some of our senior whitewater rafting guides to create a list of the top 10 mistakes we see on the river.

In the world of skiing, a “Gaper” is someone who clearly is out of their element and stands out like a sore thumb. While there is no official term for such individuals on the river, the same concept applies. We can tell. It does not take much guesswork to discern those who know what they are doing from those who are still figuring things out…

With this in mind, we went ahead and prepared a handy guide so you will be fully prepared for your next whitewater rafting adventure:


10 Things River Veterans Don’t Do

1. Wear Flip Flops

The fast water flows that make whitewater rafting so much fun are also notorious for sweeping up flip flops. Currents are extremely strong requiring secure footwear. Most river guides wear sandals that fasten around their ankles like Chaco or Teva sandals. Their customizable fit ensures the river won’t snatch them off!

2. Wear Cotton

Cotton is a bad idea when whitewater rafting because it takes too long to dry out after getting wet. Cotton loses its ability to insulate once wet meaning you will feel cold until your clothes completely dry out. Instead of cotton, choose something that wicks away water like wool or fleece. These options keep you warm even when soaked with water from the rapids.

3. Forget Sunscreen

All of our whitewater rafting trips occur at high altitude causing the sun’s rays to be much stronger. At higher elevation, wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 will protect your skin. For whitewater rafting, look for something waterproof that won’t smear away when splashed. Many brands offer sport-specific blends of sunscreen designed to withstand sweat and water contact. These tend to be creamier formulas too, meaning you’re less likely to get sunscreen in your eyes (an extremely important detail).

4. Get Dehydrated

Another thing to watch for at high altitude is dehydration. Due to the reduced amount of oxygen in the air, dehydration sneaks up on visitors who are used to living closer to sea level. Aim to drink at least two liters of water per day and you’ll be fine. Aboard all of our rafts we provide water for guests so if you’re ever feeling thirsty – just let your guide know!

5. Litter

One of our core values is preserving the environment and educating others on the value of living sustainably. Our guides are trained in the fundamentals of Leave No Trace ethics meaning we literally pack everything away and take it with us. The goal is to seem as if we were never there. The magic of the rivers we raft is in how pristine and gorgeous their surrounding habitats are. This is something the entire community appreciates which is why we feel it is our duty to protect and preserve them for future generations to enjoy.

6. Get Hangry

Avoid the horrible irritability that stems from hunger by taking full advantage of all the food we provide! Start your day off with our complimentary continental breakfast to ensure your body has the right fuel for whitewater rafting. Paddling through rapids takes a lot of energy, burning over 300 calories per hour so eating a balanced meal beforehand and replacing calories throughout the day is essential for feeling your best on the water. All our full day trips include multi-course lunch spreads and are happy to accommodate special diets (gluten free, vegan, etc) so chances of incurring hangriness when rafting with us are pretty slim.

7. Lose their Sunglasses

Whitewater rafting puts sunglasses in a high risk environment. Just like with flip flops, sunglasses are too easy to accidentally knock off and lose to the river’s current. Before becoming a professional in the world of whitewater rafting, I had no idea why people would expose their designer sunglasses or prescription eyewear to the possibility of getting lost in the river. I quickly learned this problem has an easy solution: glasses can be secured with “eyewear retainers”, essentially lanyard for sunglasses. They are a river necessity and can be purchased in our gift shop right before you hit the water.

8. Expect a Free Ride

When whitewater rafting, prepare to put in some solid effort while paddling. The currents and rapids we take on are strong and guides are entirely relying on their crew – you – as the engine to power the raft through. Most trips have a mix of mellow stretches, ideal for admiring scenery and relaxing, and intense rapids requiring full steam ahead. Your guides will make it clear when the time for paddling occurs. As a member of a raft’s crew, it’s up to you to ensure your boat has the power to maneuver around and avoid obstacles like your guide intended.

9. Remove their PFDs

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) are fitted to guests before arriving anywhere near the water, ensuring a safe snug fit. It might feel tight and awkward at first, but there is a good reason: In the case of falling overboard, the lapels of your PFD are what we’re relying on to pull you back in! The last thing anyone wants is to pull an empty PFD back into their boat. If the fit is unbearable, don’t be shy – any of our guides would be more than happy to adjust the fit for you (never do it yourself).

10. Have a Bad Attitude

Rafting is literally all about going with the flow! Every stretch of river offers its own unique beauty in so many forms. There is always something gorgeous to admire and whitewater rafting is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the beauty rivers offer. Whitewater rafting is also a ton of fun – it’s pretty impossible to come away from a day of rafting without a big smile.

Now that you have a better idea of what to expect and some solid tips for what not to do under your belt, what’s the wait? Join us on the river, and book your summer Colorado white water rafting adventure today!

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