Helpful Hints for the First-Time Whitewater Rafter

Shenandoah, Cheat, or New– no matter which river you’re on in Almost Heaven, you’ll be having a wild and wonderful time rafting. Here are a few tips to help you better prepare for your first whitewater rafting trip.

What to Expect

You can expect to gain thorough training on how to navigate the rapids prior to hitting the river. You’ll be outfitted with a helmet, personal flotation device and paddle. It’s rafting outfitters’ top priority that your whitewater encounter will be safe and enjoyable.  There will also be a seasoned guide riding along with you the entire trip, maneuvering the raft and maybe even sharing stories too.

Be prepared to have a blast. There’s more to the experience than sitting and rowing, though there will be a portion of the trek down the river where you’re doing just that. You’ll likely have multiple opportunities to take a swim in the water, do some cliff jumping (water levels permitting), and picnic along the riverside.

What to Bring

When it comes to the belongings that you take on the raft, air on the side of “less is more.” The space for extra articles is limited, as you will be sharing the raft with up 8-10 other people. An essential for the day is sunscreen. It’s best to apply prior to gearing up and taking the bus ride to the entry point on the river. Don’t forget to reapply later on to avoid a sunburn.

You will more than likely be advised not to bring your phone or any electronics with you on the boat because of the risk of water damage, or worse, losing it in the rushing rapids. If you’re hoping to snap a few photos during the day, investing in a small, waterproof bag is a worthwhile idea.

Last but not least, pack a towel and dry outfit to change into after the adventure is over. The rafting outfitters will have facilities for you to be able to switch out of your wet clothes.

What to Wear

Speaking of clothes, figuring out what to wear while on the river is often a concern of first-timers. Bear in mind that you will be wearing a personal flotation device over whatever it is you choose to wear. Women should wear a one-piece bathing suit, or one that will cover the majority of their midriff, as well as shorts with light, water-wicking material. For men, swimming trunks and a swim tee or long sleeve with lightweight material is ideal.

Water shoes, or even old tennis shoes will suffice for footwear. Flip flops, however, are hazardous and easily lost, especially after you hit the first rapid. If your eyes tend to be sensitive, it’s a good to a hat with a bill and inexpensive, polarized sunglasses. The sun reflecting on the water can be intense for a full day of rafting.

Are you ready to test the waters in West Virginia?

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This post was last updated on March 2, 2022