Wide open outdoors, azure skies, gurgling waters, orange vests, yellow helmets and guaranteed edge-of-seat excitement…ring a bell? Yes, we are talking about river rafting. White water rafting has been known to get those adrenaline levels soaring and is considered to be an extreme sport. However, it is now an activity that has found its way into commercial tourism and has many takers, varying in age and experience. There are several popular river rafting spots in the United States, but the Grand Canyon rafting experience is very popular among families and groups. Before you get that paddle out and go down a creek, here’s a quick 101 to river rafting.
White water rafting is graded based on the levels of difficulty and has six grades.
Grade 1: Very basic, mostly smooth waters all through, with very small rough areas.
Grade 2: Moderate difficulty, with clear passages. Great for families with children or those looking to get some kayaking experience.
Grade 3: Whitewater with small waves. Requires some level of maneuvering and therefore paddling skills are an asset.
Grade 4: Long rapids with powerful and irregular waves. You will encounter rocks, eddies and require sharp maneuvering.
Grade 5: long and violent rapids, with steep drops, powerful currents, challenging obstacles and steep gradients. Require advanced whitewater experience.
Grade 6: Considered extremely dangerous and almost unnavigable in stretches. Huge waves, huge rocks, structural hazards and very steep drops. Commercially un-runnable.
Grand Canyon Rafting tours are available Grade 1 through Grade 4 and are suitable for families with children as well as those with more white water rafting experience. The best time to go on a rafting expedition would be in the months of April to October. For a higher thrill factor, take up this activity when the water levels are high or low, such as spring and fall. During colder months, many rafting companies provide you with a wet suit, so there’s no fear of hitting those cold waters.
There are usually three types of rafts that are available to you – the self-bailing paddle rafts which hold up to 10 passengers and each passenger has an oar each to guide the raft under the advice of the leader. The oar raft is solely handled by your guide using two long oars. The motor raft is run by motor, leaving you more freedom to hold on as you zip through the waves.
Safety with the sport has been the cause of concerns for many years, but over time, safety norms have improved tremendously. Many commercial outfitters now provide excellent training as well as safety measures to ensure smooth sailing. Though the prospect of ‘falling out’ of the raft may seem daunting at first, many people voluntarily undertake a ‘dunk’ in the calmer parts of the river.
Rafting trips not only provide the much anticipated adrenaline rush, they also provide you with stunning never before seen views. So the next time you are mulling over things to do in Grand Canyon, think river rafting, for ‘rapid’ joys.