Choosing between the many rafting companies offering trips can seem like a daunting task. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be nearly as much work as you might first think. Before you call a rafting company, think about these questions:
First, think about what kind of general trip you are interested in.
Are you looking for a 1/2 day or single day trip or an overnight trip?
Do you want something close to home or more out in the wilderness?
What level of difficulty would your group be comfortable rafting?
Are there specific dates that you have available?
Next, call several companies and talk with them about the kind of trip you think you would like.
Does the company make you feel comfortable and take the time to answer your questions?
Do they offer a trip which might meet your expectations or are they more concerned with trying to sell you a trip that is easier for them to do?
How familiar are the guides with the river trip you will be taking? Are they a local company or are they based far away from the river?
Are there any additional costs you might incur (wetsuit rental, for example) and what is included in the trip price (lunch? transportation? camping gear?, etc.)?
Once you have taken the time to think about your trip and talk with several companies, you will probably have a good feeling about which company you are comfortable with and offers the best trip for you. Just remember, there are many good rafting companies but there are also some bad companies. Take a little time to try and get to know a rafting company before you book your trip and there is a much greater chance that your trip will be a good experience.
Is a more expensive trip better than a less expensive trip?
No. Many companies will justify high prices by explaining that their trips are “higher quality” than others. We think “high quality” doesn’t have to mean high prices. So you will find quality equipment, quality guides, quality lunches, and quality customer service on all our trips at a reasonable price. We are always thinking of new ways to make our trips better like providing hot lunches, hot chocolate, and action whitewater photos of your trip for purchase. By keeping our overhead low, we can keep our prices reasonable and still provide the highest quality raft trip on the river.
What will the weather be like? Do you still raft if it is raining?
Spring weather in Oregon is very unpredictable. Cloudy weather is fairly common although we also can have beautiful, sunny, warm days. Spring storms can increase water levels quickly, increasing the size of waves and the speed of the water. On rainy or cloudy days it is important to dress appropriately. In general, a wetsuit worn over a bathing suit and a paddling jacket is sufficient to maintain a comfortable body temperature. If you get cold easily, a wool or polypro sweater can be worn under the paddling jacket. A wool or fleece hat is a good choice on cool days. Remember, paddling the raft keeps you active and warm!
Yes, we still raft when it is raining. If you are dressed appropriately and have an open mind, rafting on rainy days can be a very exciting, and memorable trip.
What time of year is best for rafting?
Because of the relatively low elevations of the Cascade Mountains and Oregon’s temperate weather, Oregon is blessed with a year-round rafting season. Water levels are highest during spring snowmelt, generally April through June. Water temperatures range from a low of around 40o to a high in the mid 50s. Air temperatures range from a low of 55o to a high of 85-90o. Most rafters will prefer to wear a wetsuit to ensure a comfortable trip even when the air temperature is high.
Differences in water level can create different rafting experiences. The high water of early spring provides an exciting, rollercoaster ride through large waves and powerful river currents. High water yields to medium flows later in the spring, which produces a fun, bouncy, wet trip. Early summer trips are characterized by lower flows, increasing the amount of maneuvering required to navigate the rapids, but providing a quieter, more casual atmosphere.
How safe is whitewater rafting?
Despite its reputation as an extreme sport, whitewater rafting can be as safe as snow skiing and many other outdoor sports. Most injuries are minor (scrapes, bruises, sore muscles). When accidents happen, they generally occur on more difficult sections of rivers or at higher than normal water levels. You can minimize your exposure to risk by choosing a river section which contains rapids appropriate to your skill level and experience. In addition, listen closely and ask questions when your guide explains safety procedures. Remember, rafting is more than just an adrenaline rush. Think about what kind of experience you want before you choose a particular raft trip. There are many beautiful, beginner rafting trips which provide an enjoyable, memorable experience.
Is whitewater rafting scary?
Usually, people begin a raft trip with expectations and pre-conceived ideas about what the trip will be like. Sometimes these expectations increase the apprehension level at the beginning of the trip. As everyone gets comfortable in the raft and running rapids, the apprehension disappears and is replaced with excitement. Most of the time, fear is more determined by what our minds perceive than the actual danger involved in the activity. Remember, if rafting wasn’t a little scary at times, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable.
Are there any raft trips which are appropriate for a family with small children? How old should children be to raft?
Family rafting trips can be a wonderful way to spend time with each other and rediscover the true feeling of being a family. Generally, children should be at least 6 years old to raft beginner sections of rivers. Because children have more difficulty tolerating cold than adults, summer rafting trips are generally more enjoyable than spring trips. Remember, your children’s expectation can be very different from yours. Despite the common myth that children have no fear, children can be easily scared when they don’t have experience.
Blue Sky Whitewater Rafting is licensed by the State of Oregon, fully insured, and proudly operates under a Special Use Permit in cooperation with Mt. Hood National Forest. We are an equal opportunity service provider.