Whitewater rafting combines outdoor adventure, sightseeing and exercise. Rafting is a great experience to share with friends and family, particularly those who are just getting started in outdoor activities. Clear Creek, just 30 minutes outside of Denver, is one of the best beginner rafting experiences you can find. Navigating at high speed through churning waves and boulders can be a thrilling experience, but for first timers, you will want to be prepared for a few things.
Expect to get Jostled and Wet
Floating down a river sounds like a leisurely activity. There will calm parts of the river, but the real fun is had on the rapids. With rowing and maintaining your seat on a wet raft, there will be some physical activity involved. Beginners should be prepared to bounce around and get soaked. Anything you bring with you on the raft and anything you wear needs to be water ready. A raft full of people doesn’t leave much room for extra clothes, snacks or coolers.
Things like first aid kits and food for longer excursions will take up the little room available. The floor of the raft might seem like a peaceful place to put an extra jacket, but when the rapids hit, they can send belongings flying. Sunglasses and hats are notorious for flying off during the rapids, so take precaution with straps and zipper pockets to keep from losing your possessions. A simple rule is that if you don’t want to lose it, don’t bring it.
What to Wear
Summer is a popular time for whitewater rafting, and after floating through the summer heat, a fresh splash is welcome. However, rivers are fed from the mountain snows, and in early spring, the water can be frigid. The elevation also supplies a cold breeze that can chill those who aren’t prepared. A bathing suit might be enough in the late summer, but ask your guide about proper attire before heading out.
Though you might be chilled, direct sunlight in the mountain air can quickly lead to a sunburn. Be sure to wear sunscreen. It is always advisable to wear close toed shoes on a rafting trip as river bottom rocks can be sharp and you will be using your feet to help stay on raft. Avoid necklaces, lanyards and jewelry that could become entangled during the journey.
On Site Training
As a new rafter, you might be nervous about how to pilot the raft. Rest assured that your guide will be with your party on the raft the entire time. In addition, you will receive training before and after entering the raft. Your starting point will be a calm area of the river where you can practice paddling and responding to directions from your guide. Expect your arms and core to get a workout, but it’s nothing the average person can’t handle.
Prepare to be sore the next day. Pay attention during your training because while injuries are never expected, they can happen to those who don’t follow the guidelines. With proper preparation, whitewater rafting is one the best outdoor experiences to have.
This article was written by Ryan Thomas for Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting. Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting has guided thousands of whitewater rafting trips on Clear Creek and throughout Colorado.