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The Boathouse Blog

A Beginner’s Guide to Rafting in the Pacific Northwest

Calling all adventure-seeking families! If you’re looking to dive headfirst into the exciting world of rafting in the Pacific Northwest, you’re in for a treat. As seasoned river guides who have navigated the exhilarating waters throughout the Pacific Northwest, we’re thrilled to present this beginner’s guide to rafting in this breathtaking region.

Whether you’re a local looking to embark on your first river journey or a family visiting from another country, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know for an unforgettable rafting experience in the Pacific Northwest.

Need help to decide on a destination? Call Winding Waters River Expedition. We’ll walk you through your choices and get you started on a trip of a lifetime.

Choose your adventure:

Rafting in the Pacific Northwest offers a diverse range of experiences, from tranquil floats to heart-pounding rapids. You can opt for scenic float trips, which meander through calm waters, offering a relaxed and immersive nature experience. Families seeking a bit more excitement can venture into more adventurous rapids, adding an extra thrill to their journey.

While we raft rivers that feature both mellow and exhilarating rapids, all of our rafting trips require no prior experience and are suitable for families of ALL AGES and ability levels. We make safety a priority on each trip while keeping an eye on making the rapids fun for everyone.

Pick the right river for you

The Pacific Northwest boasts a variety of rivers, each with its own unique charm and intensity. Here in Eastern Oregon, our rivers meander through a desert landscape that needs to be seen to be believed. As you make your way through epic canyons, you’ll encounter a wide range of flora and fauna, and many other distinct features that make this region the beautiful area that it is.

The Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde Rivers are excellent options in our beloved “Land of the winding waters,” offering a mix of serene floats and exciting rapids.

While we’re based out of Eastern Oregon and float our favorite rivers of this region, the entire Pacific Northwest is filled with excellent white water that’s worth exploring. The rivers of Southern Oregon, such as the Rogue River, offer a unique experience all its own through a more forested part of the state. Additionally, the Upper Skagit and Skykomish Rivers in Northwest Washington offer a unique opportunity to raft close to Seattle.

Don’t forget about the activities

One of the best parts of white water rafting is how you’ll be spending your days in addition to floating the river. On our rafting trips, we’ll be floating through cool, clear water and staying at beautiful camps, allowing for fun activities such as:

  • Fishing: On all the rivers we float, you’ll have an opportunity to fish and experience the river in a whole new light.
  • Swimming: We float through big deep river canyons that feature swimming spots galore. Whether it’s at the campsite after a day of floating, midday before lunch, or simply jumping out a floating next to the raft, swimming is always a crowd favorite.
  • Hikes: While we’ll be floating every day, there will be opportunities to hop off the raft and explore the areas we’ll be rafting through, including interesting ancient and not-so-ancient cultural sites!

Safety first

Safety is paramount when rafting, no matter how many times you’ve been before. When you join us for a rafting trip, we’ll always provide essential safety equipment, including life jackets.

Our guides are extremely experienced and will make staying safe easy and comfortable. We’ll keep you updated on everything you need to know before and during your trip to have a safe and fun time.

What to bring on your trip

On all of our trips, the following items will be included:

  • Transportation to and from the river from Joseph, OR, or Clarkston, ID.
  • All necessary rafting and camping gear, including life jackets, dry bags, spacious tents, cots, and comfortable sleeping pads.
  • All gourmet meals, including options to meet gluten-free, vegetarian, and other dietary restrictions.
  • Attentive guides with decades of whitewater rafting experience. They’ll take care of everything and help you have a truly unforgettable adventure.

While these are most things you’ll need, there are lots of items we recommend bringing to ensure you have a wonderful time on the water! This includes things like:

  • Seasonally appropriate clothing
  • Sunscreen and sun hat
  • Rivers shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • A good book
  • Camp towel

For a full list of recommended items to bring along, review our packing list!

Don’t forget to bring a sense of adventure and a willingness to embrace the natural beauty and excitement of the Pacific Northwest’s rivers.

Raft with a guide who knows their rivers inside and out

Embarking on your first rafting adventure in the Pacific Northwest is a thrilling opportunity to unplug, connect with nature, challenge yourself, and create lasting memories with your family. By choosing the right river, prioritizing safety, and opting for a guided tour, you’re setting the stage for an unforgettable experience.

At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we provide a world-class rafting experience right here in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve been running the rivers we guide for years and will give you and your group an exciting and fulfilling experience out on the water.

So gear up, embrace the rush of the rapids, and get ready to embark on a beginner-friendly rafting journey that will have you falling in love with the beauty and excitement of the Pacific Northwest’s rivers. Interested in booking a trip? Contact us with any questions!