What Is the Minimum Age for Whitewater Rafting?

Written by Ben Sack, 02.21.2024

If you think whitewater rafting is best left to grownups, think again! This action-packed and inspiring outdoor activity can very much involve kids—heck, even young children. Family whitewater rafting is about as good as it gets when it comes to a shared adventure in the great outdoors!

Here at Echo Canyon River Expeditions, we offer a variety of Colorado whitewater rafting trips well suited to the younger crowd, from kids to teenagers. There are definitely age considerations to weigh when it comes to whitewater adventures, which is exactly what we’ll dig into in this blog post!

What to Consider When Rafting With Kids

The most important element of planning whitewater rafting for kids is selecting the right section of the river. There are absolutely classes of rapids and river segments that are simply too hardcore for smaller rafters (and beginners of any age). It hopefully goes without saying, but remember that the route you choose needs to be appropriate for everybody in your party.

Like other responsible river outfitters, we here at Echo Canyon use both age and weight cut-offs to ensure the safety of our youngest rafters.

It’s essential to choose a reputable rafting company employing highly trained and experienced river guides when planning your family whitewater rafting trip. That’s certainly what you get with Echo Canyon River Expeditions, mind you!

What is the Minimum Age for Whitewater Rafting?

How old should you be to whitewater raft? Here at Echo Canyon, we have different minimum age cutoffs for different sections of the Arkansas River, primarily determined by the magnitude of whitewater.

Class I, Class II, Class III, Class IV

Our most serene trip, the Scenic Float which takes place in the upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon, is open to rafters as young as four years old (or who are at least 35 pounds)—the lowest minimum age for whitewater rafting here at Echo Canyon River Expeditions. This gentle ride includes a few very easy (and very fun) Class II-III rapids.

Our most all-around popular family whitewater rafting trip, meanwhile, is Bighorn Sheep Canyon itself, available to rafters six years and older. This includes some Class III whitewater, which is the most extreme class of rapids we take youths on. Our minimum age for whitewater rafting the Royal Gorge or anything else in the Class IV realm is 13 years old. This minimum age recommendation does increase as water flows increase.

Family Rafting at Echo Canyon

At Echo Canyon, our main family trips include the half-day Scenic Float in Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the half- and full-day Bighorn Sheep Canyon trips. The Scenic Float is a paddle-assist experience, with the guide taking control of the raft and the guests thus able to 100% focus on soaking up the scenic views and wildlife sightings.

On the Bighorn Sheep Canyon trips, you can opt to either ride in a paddle-assist boat or an active “paddle boat” wherein all guests actively participate in navigating the raft downstream.

Naturally, families with teens (and an adventurous spirit) can certainly give the thrills of the Royal Gorge’s Class IV rapids a go.

Easing into the wild water experience with less technical outings such as the upper and main Bighorn Sheep Canyons is a fine way to introduce children to the joys of running rivers, with more advanced, bigger-water odysseys—not least the famous Royal Gorge—becoming a very attainable future goal!

Whitewater Rafting in Colorado With Kids on an Echo Canyon Trip

At Echo Canyon River Expeditions, we’re proud to serve families with young children, teenagers, and kids in between, helping you lock down some incredible, lifelong memories together via fun-filled whitewater rafting in Colorado. Our firm commitment to safety, top-shelf inventory of rafts, PFDs, and other equipment, and our stellar team of super-experienced rafting guides make us the ideal choice when it comes to whitewater rafting for beginners and young ones.

Your next family trip is waiting! Join the Echo Canyon team for an incredible whitewater excursion that everyone is bound to love.

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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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