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Tips for Beginner White Water Rafting Colorado

Have you ever considered strapping on a helmet and lifejacket, hopping in a raft, and racing down some raging rapids? If so, then white water rafting is for you! But many people are scared off by the fact that it sounds dangerous and they don’t know how to do it. That’s not a problem at all! With a proper guide, white water rafting can be done by people of all skill levels!

Beginner white water rafting Colorado

The Colorado Adventure Center offers a variety of trips that are perfect for beginner white water rafting Colorado thrillseekers.

Whitewater rafting can be an intimidating activity to get your feet wet, but it’s much safer and easier than many people fear (while still being exciting!).

Best White Water Rafting in Colorado

The first step to a good rafting trip for beginners is finding the right location. We firmly believe that the best white water rafting in Colorado is on Clear Creek near Idaho Springs.

Why is it such a good spot? Here are a few reasons:

  • It’s a short drive to Denver and a lot of the big Colorado mountain resorts. No matter where your home base is, you won’t have to spend too long in the car.
  • It has a wide range of rapids. From Class II (for beginners) to Class V (for experienced rafters only), all skill levels can find excitement on the water.
  • It winds through scenic nature past multiple historic sites.

It’s important to know that easy white water rafting Colorado trips are just as fun for beginners as intense trips are for experts. The thrill of rushing down the river at a slower speed feels pretty fast when you’re caught up in the moment paddling as a team. Plus, a little bit of downtime lets you take in nature and the scenery – and that’s worth a trip in and of itself!

Tips for Colorado Rafting Trips

If you’re a beginner in a raft, you can definitely benefit from some expert guidance. Also, find comfort in knowing that experienced guides will never let you get in a raft without proper preparation, so you can let go of any anxiety your having as long as you’re taking a trip with a reputable company.

Here are 10 tips to make the most out of your Colorado rafting trips.

1. Cooperate with your Guide

The Colorado Adventure Center’s team of whitewater guides are some of the most experienced and well trained on Clear Creek. Listen and follow their paddle commands as you navigate the river. Paddle when they give a paddle command! Don’t paddle unless they give a paddle command! Your river guide is very familiar with the river. Following your guide’s instructions will help to ensure a smooth and memorable beginner rafting experience.

And remember, they’re going to make sure you’ll have a great time without needing to worry.

2. Listen & Understand the Safety Orientation Talk

Before every whitewater rafting adventure, Colorado Adventure Center guests will go through a safety orientation talk. The safety orientation goes over many of the risks associated with whitewater rafting. Not only do we address some of the risks that could be encountered on the river but how to react in the scenarios. Although this pre-trip safety talk can seem intimidating, it is crucial that all guests rafting are prepared for the risks of whitewater rafting.

Don’t be shy about asking questions. This is the chance to address any concerns.

3. Paddle Together

Paddle like a Viking warship, not a drunken spider! Your river guide will call out different paddle commands as your crew navigates the rapids. It is much more effective and efficient to paddle together as a team. The paddlers at the front of the boat will be designated the “paddle captains”. As the guide yells paddle commands, the paddle captains will initiate the stroke in unison. Everyone seated behind the paddle captains will follow their stroke. Paddling skills will be practiced on land before putting on the river.

You’re going to be a master by the end!

Easy white water rafting Colorado

4. Brace Yourself

If you are a beginner whitewater paddler be sure to find good positioning in the raft. The guests will be seated around the perimeter of the raft. Some positions may have a specific foothold and others will brace themselves using the interior thwarts. By tucking your feet under the thwarts or into the footholds you will allow for a more powerful paddle stroke. Finding a balance between your seat on the perimeter, tucking your feet, and good paddling form can help keep you in the boat through rapid sections.

Your guide will make sure you know the proper positioning for your spot, and that will protect both you and the others in the raft.

5. Hands on the T-Grip

Always keep one hand on the T-grip at the end of your paddle. One of the most common injuries in whitewater rafting is caused by your fellow paddler. While going through rapid sections some guests remove their hand from their T-grip to brace themselves. This leaves a hard-plastic object being thrust about the raft in close proximity to other paddlers. Do yourself and your rafting companions a favor. Keep your hand on the T-grip.

6. Gear Up

The rivers in Colorado are generally from snow melt and stay pretty chilly. The water temperature on Clear Creek rarely gets over 40 degrees! Here are some of the items that will make a difference:

  • A wet suit is included on all our Clear Creek whitewater trips. It is not required on our beginner whitewater section, but strongly recommended (especially early season). It is required on all intermediate and advanced rafting trips to wear a wet suit. Additional gear is available for rent.
  • Neoprene river booties are always a good call, no matter what section of whitewater you plan to go on. The self-bailing rafts used at our Idaho Springs Base Camp will have your feet in contact with the water the entire time.
  • The wet suits are sleeveless so a Splash Top will provide additional warmth to your upper body.
  • If your hands get cold easily, neoprene gloves are strongly recommended.

Even if you are a little toasty while gearing up for your trip, wait until that first wave hits. You will be thankful for the extra insulation. But when you’re properly geared up, you’ll be too focused on the adventure to feel like you’re cold!

7. Don’t Wear Cotton

Do not wear any cotton material while rafting! Cotton is a negative insulator. This means once the cotton layer gets wet, it is going to stay wet and cold. If you put a cotton layer underneath the wetsuit it will not allow the neoprene material to keep you warm. Choose a dry-fit or synthetic material that will dry easily.

This is an excuse to go full Colorado and wear some fancy adventure clothes!

Best white water rafting in Colorado

8. Hydrate

It is important for any physical activity that you are properly hydrated. If you are visiting Colorado from a lower elevation, hydration is even more important. It may be hard to notice as you are getting constantly splashed through rapid sections, but it is very easy to get dehydrated at higher elevations. This goes for the kiddos too! Encourage everyone in your party to drink twice as much H2O while visiting higher elevations.

9. Sun Protection

Nothing is worse than a bad sunburn on vacation! We encourage guests to utilize high-SPF sunblock and UV-blocking layers. The UV rays at higher elevations can be significantly harsher than at lower elevations. Save yourself and your family members from vacation-altering sunburn, use sun protection!

10. Unplug

We strongly recommend everyone leave their cell phones locked in the car. Live in the moment and take in the unbeatable Colorado scenery. White water rafting is an activity that requires your full attention. There will be little, if any, time while on your beginner white water rafting Colorado trip to use your phone. Everything in the raft and on your person is very likely to get wet. Avoid donating getting water damage or donating your phone to the creek by leaving it in your car.

The Colorado Adventure Center works with professional photographers that are stationed along the river. Let your personal paparazzi get the action shots and enjoy the ride.

Beginner White Water Rafting Near Denver

If you’re ready to take the plunge for some beginner white water rafting near Denver and a lot of the major Colorado mountain resorts, then we have some good news for you! We offer multiple levels of rafting trip, and you can even combine it with another adventure through ziplines or an aerial park.

The Colorado Adventure Center team is dedicated to making your beginner white water rafting Colorado trip an unforgettable positive experience. Do you have more questions not answered here? Check our FAQ page, or call 877-ZIP-RAFT to speak with one of our friendly Reservation Agents.

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Ready to embark on an adventure of your own? We offer whitewater rafting trips, zipline trips, and an exciting ropes course!