Outdoor recreation and adventure tourism activities are more popular than ever. People of all ages are getting outdoors and trying new activities that involve some risk. Follow some recommendations below to help ensure your rafting trip is as safe and enjoyable as possible. 

Choose a Licensed and Professional Rafting Outfitter 

When researching and choosing a rafting outfitter, ask lots of questions. Find out how long the outfit has been in business and also how long the current owner has run the business. Ask about Government oversight and regulations regarding the outfitter. Ask about the River Guides’  safety and training levels. Choosing a professional rafting outfitter can be your first step in minimizing risk.

Rafting Guides 

Commercial Raft Guides have extensive training and many have years of experience on their  “home” rivers. Don’t be afraid to ask for an experienced or Senior Guide when booking a trip.  Guides often have advanced certifications in the medical field and in river safety. They are trained and are prepared for a myriad of situations on the river and will help assure your rafting crew enjoy a wonderful rafting experience. 

Pre-Trip Instruction – Listen Carefully! 

Listen carefully to the instructions given before your rafting trip by the Guide or Trip Leader.  Instructions covering your equipment, floating in the river, and paddling will make your rafting experience more enjoyable and safer. Do not treat a Pre-Trip Safety Instruction like the safety  

instruction on a plane – this is likely a new experience and/or new river trip for your crew and instructions will need to be followed to maximize enjoyment and safety.  

Safety Equipment 

Follow instructions and always wear the safety equipment provided by the outfitter as explained  – snug and well-fitted. Life jackets or PFDs (personal flotation device) are always required and helmets are required for most rafting trips. Make sure to tighten the PFD around your torso and remember, the lower the PFD is on your body the higher your head will float. Wear them at all times and make sure they are fitted properly on your entire crew. 

Wear the best Clothing for an Outdoor, Wet Adventure 

You will likely receive a list of suggested clothing for your rafting trip from the outfitter. Follow these suggestions for outerwear (jackets, hats, sunglasses), base layers (non-cotton, quick-drying shirts, shorts, bathing suit), shoes (reliably fixed shoes/sandals), and extras such as sunscreen. 

Avoid the most common injury in rafting – Hold Your Paddle Properly 

As instructed by your Guide (who likely has been hit more than a few times by a loose paddle),  always hold the paddle with two hands – one at the base of the shaft and one over the top of the t grip handle. Uncovered and loose t-grips are the most common cause of accidents in rafts leading to chipped teeth, bruised cheeks, and black eyes. Hold the t-grip! 

Stay in the Raft 

Listen to your Guide’s instructions on how to tuck your feet in the raft, sit properly and paddle or hold on tightly through the rapids as instructed by your Guide. Ride the waves and paddle hard if instructed to do so by the Guide. Paddling aggressively through the rapids helps your Guide safely navigate the rapids and also helps you stay steady in the raft. 


Follow these tips and others provided by your Outfitter and Raft Guide to maximize enjoyment and safety on your next rafting trip. You can safely enjoy the rush of whitewater and the thrills that come from completing a challenging set of rapids with your friends and family for a great day to remember. See you on the river!


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