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Whitewater, Float Trip or Tubing Which Suits You?

Whitewater Rafting in Colorado

Well, the heat of the summer is just about upon us and thoughts of floating on cool calm stream as the water gently rocks us to sleep are dancing through our heads. Now get that crap out of your mind and start thinking about some real action, flying down a river as it churns itself into a white frothy avenue of adventure! Actually, both are incredibly fun for the whole family and can be scaled up or down in accordance with how much excitement you are prepared to handle!

Wherever there is a river or stream you will find people taking advantage of rafting opportunities. There are businesses that thrive by either renting rafts, canoes, kayaks and even inner tubes for people who enjoy the water. Some rivers are slow and meandering, perfectly suited for those who would prefer to sit in an inner tube and float a mile or two enjoying the scenery or reading a book, while others are an adrenaline junkies fantasy that can provide a thrill a minute. Guided trips are available and recommended for those new to river rafting and float trips, as River Guides can often make the difference between a great trip or a nightmare situation.

Whitewater Rafting in Colorado

The Outdoors Guy, Noah Van Hochman, Front Row Left.

Here are some tips on Whitewater rafting:

Whitewater rafting uses the word whitewater for a reason, it can get really bumpy depending on the amount of water flow rushing from the mountains to the sea, so make certain you are secure in your spot on the raft. Know where you want to keep your feet and where you want to sit in order to keep your balance. Not sure? Ask the river guide. Just make certain that if you do get tossed from the raft you are not caught up half in and half out. In North America most places you will be whitewater rafting are cold and rocky. If you get thrown from the raft, don’t panic and ride it out feet first and feet up to avoid getting caught under a rock. Helmets and life vests are a must!

An important thing to remember isn’t always the easiest for many people to do, this is to let the whitewater guide know if you are not a good swimmer. Many people who have been too proud to tell the river guide that they are not strong swimmers have run into big problems because of either ego or fear. A Class 3+ rapids is not the place to take chances. Let the Guide know your concerns and always, always make sure your life vest is fastened securely.
White water rafting is a team experience and all on the raft have to work together and listen to the instructions of the white water guide. Get in the raft together, paddle together and get home safely together. Team work is key when running the especially rough part of the rapids and pay attention to the instructions of the guide who will tell you how and when to paddle.

Not all parts of the river are raging rapids and you can enjoy some very peaceful moments to view the scenery during your trip, but be prepared to get to work once the rapids are in sight and the river guide tells you to pay attention. It may seem a bit rough, but if done correctly it is an incredible and exciting experience for almost all ages (depending on the volume of water and type of rapids, ask the outfitter!). Just make sure you plan your trip with a reputable river outfitter with a good track record. Trips are usually available all day in areas that cater to those who enjoy white water rafting.

Best Float Trips

Float Trips can be for a day or Week

Float trips vs. White water rafting
The toughest rapids usually occur in the spring when melting snow in the mountains sends a great volume of water down the river, it runs faster and deeper. Not everyone wants that adrenaline rush and would prefer a lazy float down a calmer slower river. If this sounds like more your speed than a float trip or tubing a river may be just the thing for you. Many outfitters specialize in longer trips down well known rivers that pass through massive canyons and allow you to enjoy the scenery and wildlife along the way. These trips can last for a few hours or a few days depending on what you are looking for. Again, do your research on a reputable rafting outfitter that suits your needs.

Tubing a River in Texas

Tubing is nice and easy on the Guadalupe River in Texas

Hot summer? Want to enjoy the water for a few hours and perhaps meet a few new friends or enjoy time with your current ones? A tubing trip is easy, inexpensive and pretty much fun for the whole family. Basically it’s just jumping into the river at a designated safe location, fitting your butt into an inflatable tube and letting the river take you away. This is a really great way to cool off in the summer and in places such as the Guadalupe River in Texas are quite a sight to behold as thousands of College students from local universities make a tubing weekend very interesting! You never know what you might see floating down the river. Just know that when it’s hot out, it will be crowded!

Things to know
A few final thoughts that will make your trip more enjoyable and safe. If you don’t want to lose it, don’t bring it, or at least make certain whatever you bring can get wet, because chance are that it will, especially in whitewater.
Know the temperature of the water, if you are on a trip in Colorado in the spring the water will be very cold. You will probably need a wet suit. By the end of summer the river will be warmer, slower and shallower. For a Texas tubing trip, you will be in the water and it’s usually warm enough for most and you can enjoy the sun while floating to warm up.

Do not forget sun protection, you will be out on the water and the sun can really do a number on you even on a hazy or cloudy day. Use plenty of Sun screen so a fun day on the water won’t become a painful sunburn that night.
Lastly, remember that most outfitters will drive you and your group to a launching location up river and then pick you up down river at a predetermined exit location. This will occur whether you are rafting or tubing so just remember to secure any items in your vehicle and let the experts take you an amazing adventure.

Please feel free to mention in the comments or our forum, any outfitters or guides that you really enjoyed and any rivers that left you with great memories. Outfitters and guides are welcome to post their contact info there as well. Enjoy and stay safe!

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2 Responses to Whitewater, Float Trip or Tubing Which Suits You?

  1. DeeBliss56 says:

    Is the River Still too rough for a 14 year old? Do you have the names of any good outfitters? We will be there in a few weeks.

    • Noah says:

      Just got back from a trip to Durango, the river is pretty shallow now as evidenced from the bruises on my butt, it can still get a bit tricky in a few places and especially after a good rain. Make sure you wear a life preserver and think twice if going over Smelter Rapid as it can still toss you quite easily.

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