Unfathomably steep rock walls glide by in relative silence, casting their massive shadows over the trees of the opposite side of the canyon. Small, curious creatures scurry about, looking for a quick meal on the shores of the quick-moving water. A moose drinks from a shallow pool, larger than life, glancing up only momentarily as you pass by.
Suddenly your ears are piqued at the unmistakable sound of rapid water rushing white over the upcoming stones and falls. Everyone tenses with fear and excitement and checks to ensure that your cargo is tied in before grasping tightly to their oars and preparing for another wonderfully wild ride.
River rafting is unique in its blend of being both a relaxing escape back to nature and a terrifying thrill ride. Although there are any number of popular rafting venues, with endless amounts of guides and books to get you through, the best river rafting adventures are those in the out-of-the-way places, the local places that haven’t been commercialized and exploited.
Sure, a trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon is a must for everyone’s bucket list. But don’t go with any hope of finding a sense of isolation or getting away from it all. Chances are you’ll be sharing the water with hundreds of other thrill-seekers, often camping with several other tours and stopping often for slow movers.
So where do you find the small-time guys? How do get out, without getting lost? The place to start is a whitewater rafting enthusiasts website or Facebook club. Finding one in your local or vacation target area is as simple as performing an internet search.
For example, searching for “rafting Utah” brings you to a variety of options that can be narrowed down depending on what and where you’re looking for. One of the greatest family rafting adventures can be found on the Green River, outside of Dutch John, in Northeastern Utah. Rent a raft complete with an hourly shuttle from the local gas station to and from the seven mile stretch between Flaming Gorge Dam and Little Hole, or find a guide at the Flaming Gorge Lodge and buckle in for a three day ride to the Gates of Lodor at Brown’s Park in Colorado. Only the most experienced rafters are allowed to pass through the gates into the narrow slot canyon that leads to a four day journey through Dinosaur National Park, with class four rapids and geologically unique views found nowhere else in the world.
Looking for something quick and maybe a little easier? One day trips like those available in Moab, Utah, or Idaho Springs, Colorado, are a lot of fun without the multi-day run. Plenty of places to put in and take out ensure the flexibility you need to plan a river run that fits into your vacation schedule. The same can be said of the Snake River that runs through Washington and divides Oregon and Idaho. With numerous opportunities for rafting at many points along the river, the Snake is famous for the Hell’s Canyon run, the deepest river gorge in the world with canyons that rise a mile and a half above the water.
So remember, wherever you’re lucky enough to get off to, do a little searching and look for something that fits with what you enjoy. Call the local rafting venues and talk to them, they’re more than glad to give you the honest truth about the whens and wheres and will do what they can to accommodate you, especially on the slower days and slower parts of the season when it’s funner to be out there anyway. Happy floating!