How Dangerous is river rafting?

The blithe answer is. . . far less dangerous than driving your car.  The perceived risks are high; the actual risk is low.  Guides have an extraordinary amount of control over the route a raft will take in white water.  You are definitely not at the mercy of the elements.

However, it is not Disneyland and you are not on tracks; therefore, some inherent danger exists.  The control your guide has will depend – to some degree – in the ability of his or her paddlers.

If you have seen the movie The River Wild, disregard the final fifteen minutes and the hellacious whitewater.  Not even river rafting experts tackle that kind of white water unless they have cranes, winches, helicopters and Hollywood’s movie magic to eliminate most of the risks.


Do I need to know how to swim to go river rafting?

No. Personal flotation devices are worn at all times. They will keep you afloat even if you don’t know how to swim, or are unconscious.

On the other hand, knowing how to swim will give you a ‘leg up’ should you find yourself unexpectedly out of the raft and in the clutches of the current.

If the idea of falling out of the raft absolutely terrifies you, you should choose not to go rafting, or select the mildest whitewater possible.


How often do people fall out of the boat on river rafting trips?

Not as often as you might imagine.

Believe it or not, we’ve kept track of this statistic through the years.  Approximately 1% of guests wind up in the water. The other thing to keep in mind is that falling into whitewater while wearing a lifejacket hardly ever means a life-threatening event. Most rapids can be floated safely in your flotation device.


How deep is the river?

The simple response is – river depths vary, but deep enough to be dangerous.

Slow, calmer stretches of water tend to be those that are deeper. Faster, choppy water tends to be shallow, often 4 feet deep or less.  Regardless of the depth, however, if you should find yourself overboard (this is rare, indeed) in fast moving water, the proper procedure is to float on your back, feet pointed downstream.  Don’t attempt to stand until the water is calm and shallow.  When you reach calmer water, swim toward a guide or nearby raft, or swim to shore.


HOW do you get down the river?

Depending on the river and whether you have made arrangements in advance -

You have three options.

One.  You can lounge like a lizard on an oar boat where a guide does all the work.  This is most likely on an overnight trip, or with arrangements made well in advance with the Orion office.  On our day trips, it might trigger additional fees.

Two.  You can be a part of a paddle crew and paddle the raft like a canoe, with a guide doing the steering.  This is the typical option.

Three.  Or, you can paddle alone in an inflatable ‘canoe’ after a half-hour of instruction.  Inflatable kayaks also need advance arrangements and are usually reserved for our overnight journeys.

Think of it as:  Adventurous, more adventurous, most adventurous.