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White Water Rafting Tips for Families

Are you planning to take your family out for a vacation? Why not add some adventure to it? White water rafting is a family-friendly activity and an adventure for thrill-seekers. It can be a lot of fun to navigate the rough rapids of a river while surrounded by the beauty of nature. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss preparing for a family white water rafting adventure, understanding the intricacies of river rapids and considering age restrictions. We’ll cover everything you need to know to ensure that your vacation is one to remember, from picking the best rafting company to taking priceless photos. Let’s get started! 

Getting Ready for the Trip

car transportation travel road trip

Are you packing for your trip? Follow the outfitter’s list meticulously — even the items you think you won’t need. Even if you’re grabbing the paddles in August, those gloves and caps on the list serve a purpose. 

On the other hand, make sure you don’t add too many items to the list, either. If you’re bringing extras of any item, make it sunglasses, as they often end up on the bottom of the river.

And here’s a tip: Extend your river time! Spend a little pre-and post-trip time by the water. It’s not just restful; it’s an expedition enhancer!

Understanding Rapids

Confused by rapid terminologies? Let’s simplify it. The international scale, with six difficulty classes, rates rapids based on factors like water speed, influenced by rainfall, and the presence of boulders.

  • Class I: 

These rapids feature fast-moving water, small waves, and riffles. There are a few obstructions that can be avoided with basic training.

  • Class II: 

Rivers with this rating have clear, wide channels, and you don’t need to scout or explore ahead. They feature medium-sized waves and rocks that you must occasionally maneuver around, which is easy with training. Rapids at the upper end of this range are called “Class II+.”

  • Class III: 

Rapids with a Class III rating feature irregular waves, some of which may be unavoidable. Rafters must often perform complicated maneuvers in fast-moving currents and maintain control of the raft in tight passages. Currents can be powerful in places, especially on larger rivers. Scouting is recommended for less experienced parties.

  • Class IV: 

Class IV rapids are powerful and intense and require precise raft handling. Waves are typically large and unavoidable, and rafters must sometimes steer around quickly under pressure. Rafters frequently need to scout before taking on these rapids.

  • Class V: 

Stretches of rivers with a Class V rating can have many dangerous features, including violent rapids, unavoidable waves, and steep chutes with complicated routes. Rafters who tackle Class V rapids must be in good shape, as rapids can be long with no breaks. Class V is a multiple-level scale that is designated by a decimal rating such as Class 5.1, with each level more challenging than the one before it.

  • Class VI: 

Rapids labeled Class VI have often never been attempted and tend to be extremely difficult, dangerous, and unpredictable. Only teams of professionals should attempt these rapids, and only if water levels are favorable, they have inspected the rapids, and have taken all necessary precautions. Once Class VI rapids have been attempted many times, their rating can be changed to Class 5x.

Family-friendly rapids are usually Class I or II, although more difficult rapids may be an option for your family depending on the age and rafting experience of your children. At any rate, it’s best to contact your outfitter and ask for their opinion before choosing rapids for your family. 

Age Matters

Oh, and speaking of ages, white water rafting has age restrictions to guarantee safety. White water rafting age limit can range anywhere from 5 to 12 years old. Before booking your trip, call the outfitter and confirm the minimum age — even if it’s listed on their website. The age cap can be different for each trip and is based on several factors, including the difficulty and required endurance.

Talking to Your Kids

A Couple Talking to a Child

Are your kids iffy about rafting? Ease their worries. It’s important to clarify any doubts or anxieties your kids might have about white water rafting before the trip starts. Some kids may be intimidated by whitewater rafting because they are only familiar with the sport through movies, which usually show characters encountering raging waters, waterfalls, and other extreme features.

Choosing the Right Rafting Company

Selecting a qualified and licensed company is essential for your safety. We’ll go over the value of choosing a business that puts safety first and how to locate an outfitter that welcomes children and adults. The reputation and customer satisfaction of the rafting company can be learned by reading reviews and comments from other families.

To find a company that can provide an enjoyable and safe experience for white water rafting with kids, keep the following considerations in mind:


Finding a guide who follows all the proper safety regulations is an absolute priority — especially when exploring options for white water rafting for kids. For this reason, you must make sure the outfitter is professional and licensed. When researching companies, find out the following about each:

  • Years in business: – Learn about their duration with the current ownership. You want to pick an outfitter with a proven track record.
  • Training: – Ask about the training that their experts have received and how long they’ve been working as guides. You want guides with many years of experience under their belts.
  • Permits :- Find out which government entity is in charge of their permit and practices for training their guides.

By choosing a professional, licensed outfitter, you can be certain that they follow all the rules and will ensure your safety throughout the trip.

A Fun Experience for All

You can find out whether the outfitter caters to kids by finding out the following:

  • Family-friendly menu:  When you’re on a rafting trip, the only food options are those your outfitter provides, so it’s important to find out whether they offer a selection that both adults and kids can enjoy. If the food is too fancy, kids may refuse to eat it, and if it’s too simple, the adults might get bored.
  • Family-friendly supplies: Multi-day rafting trips include camping, so the outfitter should bring along games and toys for kids to enjoy at the camp.
  • Family-friendly guides: Not everyone can relate well with kids. Make sure the outfitters’ guides understand children’s need for special attention. They should be willing to organize fun activities such as musical chairs and freeze tags for the camp.
  • Family-friendly attractions nearby: You should also check whether the surrounding area has family-friendly activities such as amusement parks, mini-golf, and zoos.

Tips for the Rafting Day

Group white water rafting in a yellow raft, wearing helmets and vests

Once the rafting trip has begun, you can maximize fun and safety by following these tips for white water rafting family trips: 

Make sure your helmets and life jackets are snug

Before setting off, your guides will ensure that your helmet and personal flotation device are secured. Jackets used for whitewater rafting trips are heavy-duty and will feel very snug when you first put one on — which is the way it should feel. The reason is, that if you fall out of the boat, someone can readily pull you back using your jacket without removing it.

Make sure the younger kids are well supervised

If white water rafting with younger kids, make sure that each raft has at least one adult per child. The oarsman counts as an adult unless the rapids are Class II+ or higher, in which case they will have to focus on steering the boat instead of looking after a child.

Allow your child to take a few risks

As parents, we often shoot down seemingly risky activities that our kids want to try simply because we are unfamiliar with the risks involved. On a guided rafting tour, we have the luxury of guides that we can turn to for a second opinion. If you are uncertain whether your 12-year-old can handle a rapid by themselves, ask your guide. If they say yes, it can be an opportunity for the kids to challenge themselves and gain confidence.

Be attentive

Don’t leave the task of babysitting your kid to the guides. While a good guide will interact with your kids and ensure they have a great time, it is still your job to parent them. Luckily, this job is easier on a rafting trip than at home, as the kids frequently won’t have any excess energy to argue with you! 

Make sure your child listens to the guide

One of your most important parenting duties will be making sure that your kids are attentive towards guides and are following their instructions. If you’re following the instructions closely, your child will likely do the same.

Capturing the Memories

Capturing the Memories

Be sure to make many memories on your whitewater excursion — many of which you will want to capture. Here are some tips on how to best document this wet and wild experience:

Bring a waterproof camera

While whitewater rafting is exciting, using an expensive camera can be risky due to the water. However, once you set out on the roaring river, you might have trouble finding a moment to pull out your fragile DSLR without it getting drenched and completely ruined. Opt for a low-cost waterproof point-and-shoot or use a camera you don’t mind getting wet or dirty for a worry-free adventure documentation.

Let the kids use the camera

Another benefit of bringing a point-and-shoot is that you let your kids snap some shots as well. While their pictures may not be masterpieces, their perspective adds charm to the album.

Don’t forget to take camp photos

Some of the greatest memories on rafting trips are at the campsite, so don’t forget to get photos of your family around the campfire, eating marshmallows, playing games, or setting up the tent.

Choose a rafting outfitter that provides photos of your trip

You don’t have to worry about getting good photos on the river if your rafting company provides them.

Booking Your Family Rafting Adventure

Southeastern Expeditions stands out as the perfect choice for your family rafting excursion. Southeastern Expeditions offers year-round services and careful planning whether you’re organizing your trip for the summer or during the off-season to guarantee a safe and pleasurable time for your family. 

We offer a variety of packages that make your rafting trip affordable and hassle-free. Just pick your package and leave everything else to our team of professionals. It’s time to embark on an incredible whitewater rafting trip and make lifelong memories. Get started on your next adventure today! 

Chattooga River : Section III

6 Hours


8 Years

3400+ People Rafted Last Year

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Whitewater rafting is more fun when you tackle with your friends and family. Book a group river rafting trip Atlanta today.
river rafting at chattooga river
White water rafting at chattooga river

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