What is a typical day like on a rafting trip?

group of rafters with paddles on river bank during a typical day

Updated March 2, 2024

All trips are different

There is no typical day on the river, each day, trip, and river are different. A whitewater rafting adventure is one of the most exciting activities you could experience.

Get Ready

driving to the american river

Your day begins with a drive to the river and meeting location. Once at the location, you will meet your guides who will help you check in, sign release forms, let you know the location of the bathroom and the plan for the day. If you are rafting in the spring, on a class 4 river, or a colder day, you will then be given wet suits to put on prior to getting on the river.  The wet suits will keep you warmer on a cooler day. Most companies rent these, however, there are a few, like Whitewater Excitement, that include these for free.

After check in is complete, you will then head for the river, either by walking to the launch area or taking a bus ride. Once at the river launching area, you will meet all the guide staff and get 3 pieces of river rafting equipment: a PFD (life jacket), paddle, and helmet. The guides will then adjust each guest’s pfd and helmet to make sure they’re snug and fit properly.

We then gather everyone and give a 10-15 minute river safety and orientation talk which will let you know how to sit and better stay in the raft, how to paddle, what happens if you were to fall overboard, and some pointers and tips for making the most out of your trip.

Onto the River

River Safety talk done, we split up into groups, introduce and assign the guides and get on the river. The first mile or so (unless you are hitting big ones right away) you will get the feel of paddling the raft and where to hold on.  Your guide sits in the back of the raft and gives instructions on when to paddle, what rapid is coming up and how big it is, history of the area, and the most important question:  when is lunch?

The day of rafting includes stretches of great whitewater mixed up with areas of calm pools and slower current.  Not many American River rafting trips are nonstop whitewater action, we do have stretches where the rapids are mellower and the current is slower.  If you are on a day trip, lunch will be served at mid-day either at the river camp or you will pull over and have lunch right on the banks of the river.  If you are on a half day, then you will continue on down the river without a stop.

After lunch, it’s back on the river for more whitewater action.  At the end of the rafting trip, you can help carry the raft up to the van and trailer, if you wish, then head to towards the company vehicles to drive you back. 

When it ends

Once back at the start, there will be cold drinks and snacks waiting for you. At the meeting areas, there will be bathrooms and rafting store that you can pick up your favorite t-shirt or other souvenir.  Your guides will also be there to thank you for the trip, give you information on where to view/buy the photos from the day say good bye. This is the best time to tip your guide, if you think they did a great job.

There is much more that goes on during a river rafting trip including and not limited to; swimming through small rapids, water fights with other rafters, meditation time while drifting, and time to interact with your guide and fellow passengers and so on. You can make your trip the best it can be by fully participating in all the activities that go on throughout your day of rafting. Read how you can get the most rafting out of a whitewater rafting trip.

Wild Wednesdays and Weekday Online 15% DiscountsCheck it Out and Book Now!