top of page

Whitewater Rafting For Beginners

Whitewater rafting is an experience that allows you to connect with the great outdoors unlike any other. It’s a perfect combination of action-packed adventure and stunning natural scenery. If you’re an adventure enthusiast, you may not be too concerned with what you’ll encounter on the rapids. However, it’s understandable to feel nervous as a novice rafter. In this blog post, we will bring you into the world of whitewater rafting, how to prepare for it, and what to expect.

group of whitewater rafters floating down a river


Whitewater rafting is a great way to challenge your limits and escape the ordinary. But what exactly is it? Whitewater is characterized by churning, aerated water that flows rapidly over shallow terrain. Inflatable rafts are then used to navigate these rivers or other bodies of waters for recreation. We recommend seeking out an outfitter that provides the equipment, training and expertise necessary for a thrilling (and safe!) rafting experience.


As previously mentioned, we suggest choosing a licensed outfitter for your first whitewater rafting adventure. This way, there isn’t much you need to do to prepare for your excursion.

What to Bring:

woman applying sunscreen to her face

Most outfitters will tell you what to bring. A good rule of thumb is to pack lightly. Consider bringing a towel or change of clothes with you to leave in the car until the end of your experience. While most outfitters will plan time to stop and pull over for a light meal, you might want to bring extra snacks or water for the way home. Most importantly, make sure to have sunscreen handy.

What to Wear:

two men carrying a whitewater raft to the riverbank.

Be sure to wear appropriate clothing according to weather and water conditions. To stay cool, it is recommended to wear a bathing suit underneath moisture-wicking athletic clothes. To stay warm, consider compression tights and windbreakers. Closed-toed shoes are recommended, like a water shoe or old pair of sneakers. Avoid shoes that can fall off and expose you to dangers beneath the water’s surface. Make sure glasses are secured firmly with a float strap to avoid losing them in the whitewater.


Before You Board:

A guide will provide you with safety equipment like a helmet, personal flotation device (PFD), and a paddle. You will receive instructions prior to boarding, as well as on the water. Be sure to listen carefully to important terminology and commands.

whitewater rafting safety equipment.

Different Types of Rapids:

Whitewater rafting is a dynamic experience. Water conditions change due to the season, weather, or natural events. That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the rapid classification system. As you approach a rapid, your instructor will tell you the class.

Class I: Moving water with few or no obstructions.

Class II: Small waves and obstacles that might require maneuvering.

Class III: Whitewater that often requires technical skill to navigate.

Class IV: Turbulent, difficult rapids that require complex piloting.

Class V: Extremely difficult, violent, and congested rapids.

Class VI: Dangerous conditions recommended for experts only.

white water rafters encountering a rapid.


paddles in the water

Your whitewater rafting experience will be led by a knowledgeable guide who has a thorough understanding of the river, its rapids, and notable obstacles. As you float down the river, the guide will instruct the rafters using verbal commands. It’s imperative to memorize and follow the directions promptly. Some common instructions include “forward paddle,” “backward paddle,” and “get down.”

Your guide will teach how to use your paddle to propel and steer the raft. Proper paddling techniques help navigate the raft through the rapids. Your fellow rafters will be working from each side of the boat to maintain balance and control.

Man Overboard:

whitewater rafters going overboard while encountering a rapid.

Yes, there is a possibility you will fall out of the raft. But, don’t let that deter you. As you approach the rapid, your guide will provide you with precise instructions to ensure your safety. Most importantly, stay calm. Follow the man overboard instructions given by your guide. Once alerted, your guide will assess the situation and determine when it’s safe to attempt a rescue. The rafting team will work

together to pull the person back in the raft.

We understand that whitewater rafting may appear daunting at first. But, with the right guidance, spirit, and willingness to embrace the unknown, you’re guaranteed to navigate a path to a new and exciting experience. Not only do we hope this guide provided you with valuable whitewater rafting insights, but also the courage to step outside your comfort zone and dive headfirst into uncharted waters!


bottom of page