The Great White (Water) Way: Information on where to go, what to bring and what to wear when you go out on a rough river

Plan your way to a more adventurous (and wet) vacation in the great outdoors
If you feel like your vacations are becoming a list of “been there, done thats,” why not add a little something to make it all the more memorable? Don’t be rash — there is no need to swim with the sharks. Whitewater rafting can provide lots of excitement for us thrill-seekers looking to the great outdoors for a great vacation.

The Basics
Before your little tootsies hit that refreshing, fast-flowing, cool river water, do a little studying. Do you know the difference between a keeper and a smoker? It could mean the difference between hitting a rock or hitting a rapid. Rafting has a whole dialog of its own, so brush up on the vocabulary. Know what you are getting into. Whitewater is based on a measurement of class levels that run from level I through level VI. Basic rafters stick to class I-III; more advanced rafters can go all the way up to class VI.

Where to Go
As long as there is a hefty amount of water, a strong current, and a varied underwater surface, a-raftin’ we shall go. There are some great places in the United States on both the East Coast and the West Coast. If you feel like taking it a step further, there are also hot rafting spots around the globe that will satisfy your every whitewater dream. Trips can last from one day to several weeks, depending on the location that you choose and the outfitter that you decide to go with.

The Great White (Water) Way

What to Bring
If you enjoy lazily drifting down a river, watching the world go by with little chance of a splash of water touching you, this is not your sport. One thing’s for sure, and that is that you will get wet. In order to protect yourself from the elements, there is outdoor gear you might want to buy.

For all rafting trips, no matter what length of time you spend on the river, you will want to make sure to pack the following items:

* Suntan lotion

  •  Hat with chin strap
  •  Sunglasses with head strap
  •  Gloves
  •  Socks
  •  Water shoes (like sneakers or river sandles)
  •  Layering clothes that dry easily and keep you warm even when they are damp (synchilla, polarplus, wool, fleece, capilene)
  •  Swimsuit
  •  Water bottle
  •  Someplace to put your keys that will be safe (Some have recommended getting a magnetic hide-a-key and placing it somewhere on your car.)
  •  Waterproof rain jacket
  •  Waterproof camera, or a camera in a waterproof pouch

If your trip is taking place during a cooler season, you’ll want to see about renting a wet suit. For overnight trips, packing “light and tight” is the key. Most outfitters will provide a waterproof bag for your gear, but make sure to pack your items in a sturdy duffel bag. Don’t forget to pack a flashlight and insect repellent.

When to Go
The question, “When is the optimal time to go rafting?” can only be answered after you’ve decided where you want to go. If you’re in the United States, most outfitters will run between May and August. Some start as early as April and end as late as October. The run dates will be completely dependent on the river. If you’re one of those adventurous spirits who travel wherever the river will take them, river runs can start in November and go through March. China and Chile both offer tours during these times. h. China and Chile both offer tours during these times.

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