Renting a raft allows you to explore a river at your own pace, but you should know some things before renting one for the first time. If you're new to river rafting, or if you've only gone with a guide, here are some tips to ensure your first time renting a raft goes well.
Consider Your Group
Where you rent a raft from will largely determine where you go rafting, so choose a location that's appropriate for your group's level. If you're heading up the raft rental and haven't previously done this, the right location will probably be a fairly easy section of river.
When you consider your group, take into account both the group size and the strength of each person. A group of less active adults and/or children will have a harder time navigating water in a large raft than a group of athletes will.
Consider breaking larger but weaker groups up into several rafts, which are easier to handle. Also, evenly disperse the stronger people among the raft(s) you rent. Place the strongest people in different boats, and on different sides of the boat. This will ensure the group has approximately equal strength for navigating the water.
Ask Where to Take Breaks
The staff who help you with your raft rental will know the river that you're going on well. Ask them where the best places to pull over are. They'll likely have recommendations of where you can easily beach for a lunch, swim, or photo opportunity. They might also know where things like eagle's nests, beaver dams, or other wildlife are located along the river.
Allow for Extra Time
Book your raft rental for longer than you anticipate needing the raft. The extra time will be a buffer if you beach the raft unexpectedly or face other challenges. If the trip goes smoothly (which it should), extra time will allow you to get out and explore more than you otherwise would be able to.
Follow All Safety Requirements
No guide is around to make sure you follow all safety requirements when renting a raft, but you absolutely should follow each guideline and requirement. Safety policies are developed to help ensure the responsible and safe enjoyment of each person in a rafting party. Failing to heed these stipulations could place someone in your party at risk.
Most importantly, always wear life vests when on the water. Even if you're a strong swimmer, the currents in a river can be difficult to overcome if you aren't able to float. Contact a raft rental company for more information.