Whitewater rafting can be fun and exhilarating. It can also be scary and dangerous if you venture out by yourself in an area that’s rated way above your experience level. But, are there rafting trips which offer fun and excitement, but still mild enough for beginners and children? Absolutely. Here are a few you might consider.
1. Little Gore Canyon ñ Near Denver, Colorado
With a rating of Class I to III, the Little Gore Canyon section of the Colorado River offers mild yet exciting whitewater suitable for beginners and families with children. You can enjoy Little Gore Canyon in a raft, kayak, inflatable kayak or a canoe.
Companies which offer rafting trips for families in Little Gore Canyon include:
Bill Dvorak’s Kayak & Rafting Expeditions
Providing expeditions since 1969, Dvorak’s was Coloradoís first licensed outfitter. They offer 2-day family expeditions in Little Gore Canyon, with meals included. For more information, call them at 800-824-3795.
Rancho Del Rio
Offers half and full-day trips with lunch included, as well as an overnight and three-day trip with choice of three meal plans. Call them at 970-653-4431 for more information.
2. San Miguel River ñ Near Telluride, Colorado
A rafting trip along the San Miguel River near Telluride, Colorado will provide you with Class II and occasional Class III rapids, along with spectacular scenery of red rock cliffs and alpine terrain. This trip is great for beginners and families with children over 10 years of age.
Companies which offer rafting trips for families along the San Miguel River include:
Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Trail Tours, Inc.
Trip leaders average 3,000 river miles (the state of Colorado requires 750), and they offer shuttles around rapids for kids and elders. Mild to Wild offers 1-day, 2-day or 3-day trips down the San Miguel River, including meals on the river and in camp.
Bill Dvorak’s Kayak & Rafting Expeditions
They offer 1 to 5-day family rafting expeditions along the San Miguel River, with meals included. For more information, call them at 800-824-3795. If you wish longer trips of 6 to 12 days, you can combine a trip on the San Miguel River with a trip on the Dolores. are available by combining the San Miguel with the Dolores.
3. Upper New River ñ South Central West Virginia
Beginners will appreciate the “beginner-friendly” rapids of the Upper New River, rated I to III in difficulty. An added feature is the incredibly beautiful scenery and the belief by some that the New River is the world’s 2nd oldest river.
Companies which offer family rafting trips on the Upper New River include:
Offers a 1-day family rafting trip package on the Upper New River which includes 2 nights lodging, 1 breakfast buffet, 1 lunch buffet and 1 dinner buffet. You have many different types of lodging to choose from, including cabin, RV, camping, cabin tent or the Quality Inn. If you want more adventure to go with your rafting, Rivermen also offers multi-sport, multi-day adventure packages, such as a rafting and climbing package, a rafting, climbing and jetboat package, or a rafting, climbing, jetboat and horseback riding package. Call them at 800-545-7238 for more information.
4. South Fork of the American River ñ near Sacramento, California
The South Fork of the American River is a favorite in California, rated a Class II and III and suitable for beginners and children ages 7 and above. The 3-mile, Class II “Coloma to Lotus” stretch of the South Fork is a perfect place for novices to try out rafting. You will also enjoy the scenery of oak and pine forests.
Companies which offer family rafting trips on the South Fork include:
Has been in business for over 30 years and offers a 2-day rafting trip on the South Fork, which includes lunch and dinner and overnight camping at Riverís Bend Resort in Coloma, as well as breakfast the next morning. Call them at 800-346-6277 for more information.
American Whitewater Expeditions
Offers half, full and 2-day trips on the South Fork, as well as family midweek specials of 1 and 2-day trips. For those of you in Southern California, American Whitewater Expeditions has a special 2-day South Fork trip with round trip deluxe bus from Orange County, Los Angeles or San Fernando. And for those family members or friends who don’t wish to raft but wish to camp at the company’s campsite, they have a special of 2-nights camping and 4 meals for $69. Call 877-825-3206 for more information.
5. Upper Main Salmon River ñ near Sun Valley, Idaho
This section of the Salmon River in the Sawtooth Wilderness Area provides mild Class II rapids with some thrilling Class III rapids to provide the beginner and veteran alike with a very enjoyable rafting adventure.
Companies which offer beginner and family trips on the Salmon River include:
White Cloud Rafting Adventures
Offering half and full-day Class II and III trips suitable for beginners and children. Half-day trips include a snack, full-day trips include lunch. They also offer half-day scenic float trips for those who want an even milder trip down the Salmon River. This trip is a smooth and easy float with Class II rapids. Call them at 800-571-RAFT for more information.
Whichever river and outfitter you choose, do remember to apply sunscreen and wear water shoes or tennis shoes (no flip-flops), and bring a change of clothes. And do be careful, whitewater rafting can be addictive.