White water rafting can be a thrilling adventure for anyone — including people with disabilities or limited mobility. While some people believe that navigating the rapids is too challenging for a disabled individual, we here at Southeastern Expeditions have discovered that such an idea is untrue. If you take a quick trip through our parking area, don’t be surprised to see a few vehicles with disability placards or license plates. You’re also likely to see a wheelchair van or two.
An exhilarating day on the water is great for the mind, body and spirit — for disabled and non-disabled people alike. As long as each individual follows all the precautions given, with a little help from caregivers and our guides, there are few limitations for white water rafting with disabilities.
White Water Rafting Accessibility: What You Need to Know
Before you decide if taking the white water rafting plunge is right for you or a disabled individual under your care, you should know some of the basics:
- Degree of difficulty: Rivers for white water rafting receive a rating on the International Scale of Difficulty, which ranges from Class I (easy) to Class VI (extreme and exploratory rapids). The stretches of the Chattooga River used for Southeastern Expeditions trips consist of Section III, which is for Class II-IV rafters, and Section IV, intended for Class III-V skill levels. We suggest that disabled individuals who are new to white water rafting start with a Section III adventure.
- Age: All Section III rafters must be at least eight years of age (age 10 is recommended for high-water areas), and Section IV rafters must be at least 12 years old.
- Float test: All Rafters must pass a float test while wearing a life jacket.
- Mobility: Rafters must be able to traverse the access trails that lead to the raft staging area and cover a total of approximately 1/4 mile (with assistance if necessary), navigate rocky terrain and participate in paddling the raft.
- Medications: If you must take your medications with you on the water, please let us know in advance. Your guide can provide a dry bag to protect them during the journey.
We’ll Be Happy to Discuss Your Needs in Advance
At Southeastern Expeditions, we believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience an adaptive white water rafting adventure. We’ve helped individuals with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, vision and hearing impairments, autism and other disabilities and medical conditions maximize their enjoyment on the water.
To ensure that we’re able to accommodate your needs, we recommend contacting us before booking your trip so that we can discuss your situation in advance. By gaining a better understanding of your circumstances, we can make all the necessary preparations. We can also inform our guides so that they can provide any required help during the trip.