To Paddle or Not to Paddle on Your White Water Rafting Trip

Written by Ben Sack, 06.08.2015

Not all white water rafting trips are the same, and not all boats are, either! Paddle boats and paddle assist boats make it possible for each person on a raft to participate as little or as much as they wish.

There are a number of factors that you can choose to craft your Colorado vacation, including adding additional activities to your agenda, deciding where to stay, and finding the best activities for your family. But when it comes to making your white water rafting trip the best that it can be, that’s where we excel! When you call to make a whitewater rafting reservation at Echo Canyon River Expeditions, we tailor your rafting experience to your group’s specific needs. One of the ways that we make sure you have the best time possible is to help you choose which kind of boat you take down the river. There are two options – paddle and paddle assist – and we’ll help you decide which one is best for you.

Paddle Boat

white water rafting, royal gorge raftingIf your group consists solely of adults who are ready and willing to paddle hard, we’ll put you on a paddle boat, where everyone gets to participate in actively powering the raft. Your guide will sit in the back of the boat and will act as a rudder while you provide the forward (and sometimes backward) momentum while navigating rapids. What are the specific advantages of a paddle boat on your white water rafting trip? With up to seven paddlers, you can really get some speed on the river! In fact, on our Royal Gorge trips, you’ll only find paddle boats because they provide the speed and maneuverability that is necessary for class IV-V rapids.

Paddle Assist Boat

family white water raftingIf you have smaller children, adults who would like to simply enjoy the ride, or individuals who may be nervous about their first time rafting (you’re going to love it – we promise!), you may opt for a paddle assist boat. In this setup, your guide will be sitting on a metal frame in the center or rear of the boat, while up to four individuals paddle and the rest of the group is free to hold on. Those who paddle will sit on the outside of the raft, feet firmly locked into place, and those who don’t paddle have the option of sitting on the big inflated bench seats in the middle of the raft – otherwise known as a ‘thwart’. Your guide will be sure to let you know what is acceptable to hold on to (NOT the guide) and what isn’t. They may even rig an extra strap for you.

Where is the best place to sit in the raft on white water rafting trip?

family white water raftingThink of a whitewater rafting trip as a ride on a roller coaster. If you’re the kind of person who waits in line an extra turn just so you can sit in the front – then that’s where you’ll want to be on a rafting trip. You’ll have the best view of all the rapids, and you’ll definitely get the wettest!

Unlike a roller coaster, though, your white water rafting trip is going to last for over an hour, so there is ample time to switch it up and give everyone a chance at getting a wave in the face. On any given raft, there can be up to three different parties riding together, so asking others if they want a shot in the hot seat is a kind gesture. It will also give everyone a chance to be featured prominently in the great GoPro shots that you’re bound to get on your raft!

We can’t wait to share our love of white water rafting on the Arkansas River with you! Join us for a trip on the Arkansas River today and come see why once you hop on one of our big, blue boats, you’ll want to do it again and again!

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About the Author

Ben Sack is the General Manager of Echo Canyon River Expeditions, Colorado's largest white water rafting outfitter. He's also a raft guide, a photographer, and he loves exploring Colorado and beyond with his wife and two boys.
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