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Travel: Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting can be traced back to 1811: the first recorded attempt to navigate Wyoming’s Snake River. Though the first rubber raft was likely built in the 1840s, a century passed before the first commercial rafting trip took place in 1940. In the late 1950s, a lodge in Grand Teton National Park began offering float trips using 8 ft. by 27 ft. surplus war rafts. In the 1960s and 70s, whitewater rafting companies began forming, and the sport was officially included in the Olympics for the first time in the 1972 Munich games.

Since 1972, Kings River Expeditions has been offering guided whitewater rafting trips from March-July on the Kings River. Today, they offer one- and two-day trips for beginning and intermediate rafters promising fun, adventure, and enjoyment. Located just above the Pine Flat Reservoir, Kings River Expeditions takes pride in being family-owned and operated with owners on-site for almost every trip. The tour guides offer home-style meals that include beer, wine, and ice cream for full-service trips. Kings River Expedition owners Casey and Veronica Cornell share some insight on preparing for whitewater rafting:

Q: Is there a fitness skill level required to go rafting?

A: Simple answer: No. Our guides are very skilled and can tailor the aggressiveness of the run to the physical ability of the guests.

Q: Do you need to know how to swim? Is there safety gear provided?

A: All safety gear is provided, including helmets upon request, and, of course, life jackets. Knowing how to swim is definitely a plus, but you’ll float nicely if you can’t.

Q: Is a wetsuit required or are they available to rent?

A: Wetsuits aren’t required, but highly recommended. Wetsuits are provided at no cost in the spring and offered as a rental once we reach hotter days.

Q: Are there age or weight restrictions?

A: There are no weight restrictions and the age limit really depends on the water levels at the time. For common flows we allow 9 years and older. Kids absolutely love the river and carry that experience with them forever.

Q: Are there benefits to going white water rafting? (e.g. Facing your fears? Boosts energy levels? Reduces stress? Raises self-confidence?)

A: All of the above! But the biggest benefit is a connection with nature and healthy respect for the power of water.

Q: Can you share about a typical rafting trip and how long the trip lasts?

A: A typical trip lasts 6-7 hours from arriving to camp, enjoying one of our delicious meals, and of course, an exciting trip down our 10-mile stretch of river. Trip lengths vary depending on meals provided and the number of runs down the river. For example, on our 2-day full service trip, we take two runs, or trips—once each day. We generally don’t put more than 6 guests in a raft. Water flows do affect the speed of the trip, but we adjust our number of stops on the river accordingly.

Q: Are there any unique experiences or equipment that makes the rafting trip special?

A: We feel our guides are really the key to making rafting trips extra special on the Kings. Skill, confidence, and friendliness are all attributes our guides exhibit every trip. Add in their ability to cook delicious meals and put on the occasional campfire show, and our guides make Kings River Expeditions a truly special adventure. Campfire shows are available for our large dinner services; our guides put on a fun, silly show with songs, acrobatics, and magic. We jokingly claim the title of “Best Campfire Show in the Canyon.”