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5 Rafting Trips For Families And Beginners

Whitewater rafting can be fun and exhilarating.  It can also be scary and dangerous if you venture out by yourself in an area that's rated way above your encounter level.  But, are there rafting trips which offer fun and exhilaration, but still mild plenty of for beginners and children?  Absolutely.  Here are some you might consider. 

1.  Little Gore Canyon - Near Denver, Colorado

With a rating of Class I to III, the Little Gore Canyon section of the Colorado River offers mild yet exciting whitewater suitable for beginners and families with children.  You can enjoy Little Gore Canyon in a raft, kayak, inflatable kayak or a canoe. 

Companies which offer rafting trips for family members in Little Gore Canyon include:

Expenses Dvorak's Kayak & Rafting Expeditions
Providing expeditions since 1969, Dvorak's was Colorado’s 1st licensed outfitter.  They offer 2-day family expeditions in Little Gore Canyon, with meals included.

Rancho Del Rio
Offers half and full-day outings with lunch included, and also an overnight and three-day trip with choice of three meal plans.

2.  San Miguel River - Near Telluride, Colorado

A rafting trip along the San Miguel River near Telluride, Colorado will provide you with Class II and occasional Class III rapids, along with spectacular scenery of red rock cliffs and alpine terrain.  This trip is great for beginners and family members with children over 10 years of age. 

Companies which offer rafting trips for family members along the San Miguel River include:

Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Trail Tours, Inc.
Trip leaders average 3,000 river miles (the state of Colorado requires 750), and they present shuttles around rapids for kids and elders.  Mild to Wild offers 1-day, 2-day or 3-day time outings down the San Miguel River, including meals on the river and in camp. 

Expenses Dvorak's Kayak & Rafting Expeditions
They offer 1 to 5-day time family rafting expeditions along the San Miguel River, with meals included.  If you wish longer trips of 6 to 12 days, you can combine a trip on the San Miguel River with a trip on the Dolores.   are available by combining the San Miguel with the Dolores.


3.  Upper New River - South Central West Virginia

Beginners will appreciate the "beginner-friendly" rapids of the Upper New River, rated I to III in difficulty.  An added feature is the incredibly beautiful scenery and the belief by some that the New River is the world's 2nd oldest river. 

Companies which offer family rafting outings on the Upper New River include:

Rivermen
Offers a 1-day time family rafting trip package on the Upper New River which includes 2 nights lodging, 1 breakfast buffet, 1 lunch buffet and 1 dinner buffet.  You have many different types of lodging to select from, including cabin, RV, camping, cabin tent or the Quality Inn.  If you want more adventure to go with your rafting, Rivermen also offers multi-sport, multi-day adventure packages, such as a rafting and climbing package, a rafting, climbing and jetboat bundle, or a rafting, climbing, jetboat and horseback riding package.

4.  South Fork of the American River - near Sacramento, California

The South Fork of the American River is a favorite in California, rated a Class II and III and suitable for beginners and children ages 7 and above.  The 3-mile, Class II "Coloma to Lotus" extend of the South Fork is definitely a perfect place for novices to try out rafting.  You will also enjoy the scenery of oak and pine forests. 

Companies which offer family rafting outings on the South Fork include:

O.A.R.S.
Has been in business for over 30 years and offers a 2-day time rafting trip about the South Fork, which includes lunch and dinner and overnight camping at River’s Bend Vacation resort in Coloma, and also breakfast the next morning.

American Whitewater Expeditions
Offers half, full and 2-day time outings on the South Fork, and also family midweek specials of 1 1 and 2-day time trips.  For those of you in Southern California, American Whitewater Expeditions has a special 2-day time South Fork trip with round trip deluxe bus from Orange County, Los Angeles or San Fernando.  And for those family members or friends who don't wish to raft but wish to camp at the company's campsite, they have a special of 2-nights camping and 4 meals for $69.

5.  Upper Main Salmon River - near Sun Valley, Idaho

This section of the Salmon River in the Sawtooth Wilderness Area provides mild Class II rapids with some thrilling Class III rapids to provide the beginner and veteran alike with a very enjoyable rafting adventure. 

Companies which offer beginner and family outings on the Salmon River include:

White Cloud Rafting Adventures
Offering half and full-day Class II and III trips suitable for beginners and children.  Half-day trips include a snack, full-day outings include lunch.  They also offer half-day time scenic float outings for those who want an even milder trip down the Salmon River.  This trip is definitely a clean and easy float with Class II rapids.

Whichever river and outfitter you choose, do remember to apply sunscreen and wear water shoes or tennis shoes (no flip-flops), and bring a switch of clothes.  And do be careful, whitewater rafting can be addictive.

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