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Old 08-20-2014   #11
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
The North Platte around Saratoga has some nice easy water and lots of good scenery. This is most likely the closest water to Cheyenne.

The Upper Colorado near Kremmling, CO especially the Ranch-del-Rio section has lots of opportunities for beginners, including some boat rental and instructions.

The A Section of the Green River, Utah near Dutch John has dam controlled flows and can be floated reliably all rear round. You can rent boats there as well.

Rancho Del Rio on the Colorado River - Services

Wet suit? Depends on what rivers, what kind of boat and what time of year you choose to float. Kayaks and duckies are 'wet rides' and you might want one. In a raft or dory you are high and dry for the most part. I do a lot of boating (raft, drift boat or 9' pontoon) in the CO, WY, UT and MT areas and have been fine with my gortex fishing waders, so I leave the wet suit at home. I do have knee high neoprene socks that get regular use.

The investment in a boat is significant. By the time I got all setup with the full rig I was in for $3000 on a used boat plus associated gear (PFD's, oars, bow rope, dry box, etc) later upgrades put me into $6k and plus a trailer.

There are many factors to consider on what boat to buy. Smaller boats like inflatable kayaks are a lot easier to transport than a 16' raft and frame, as a result they might get more use. I would suggest renting some boats and deciding what you like before dropping some big cash.

Find some like minded boating buddies to help you along. Look at the bulletin boards at the local raft shops, various on line message boards and local boating clubs. One of the sure fire ways to find new friends is to get a river permit! Most permits applications are sent in Jan-Feb with winners announced in March. It costs about $20 to enter and you an always return the permit if you can't use it or can't put a group together. While the group leader should have some river experience, the permit holder can be a newbie.

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Old 08-20-2014   #12
InflatableSteve's Avatar
Cave Creek, Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 671
Hello! Before we got our boat I did a lot of research (months worth). Figuring out what boat to get is more than what are the best brands. The way you plan to use the boat has a lot to do with the size and style boat you buy.

I am currently reading the book "The Complete Whitewater Rafter" by Jeff Bennett. This has been a really good source of information for me. He goes over just about everything from what you need to start, to reading rivers, to becoming a professional guide. I suggest you get this book or one like it to help you on your way.

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Old 08-20-2014   #13
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1966
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 427
If you have the money (or, like me, can get someone to give you a wicked good present), this Rogue trip was a blast. They call it Class III Rowing School (not as intense a "guide school") -- there were some folks there with almost no rowing experience who had a gerat time and learned a lot. And the Rogue is a classic river trip.
Class III Rowing School | Northwest Rafting Company

I bet there is some floating to be had on the N. Platte around Saratoga.
NRS probably sells more whitewater gear than anybody -- poking around their site can also teach a lot -- they do have general info (not just product description); they might carry that whitewater rafting boook suggested as well as DVDs.
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Old 08-20-2014   #14
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1966
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 427
Originally Posted by BlackWidowSS View Post
..down the Snake River , just outside if Yellowstone in Jackson, Wyoming, which was a class 2 when we went.
I think Class II is very debatable; I think Class III is still a good call even in August (running around 4.8K now). So you may be ready for bigger water than you think if you are looking for comparable thrills. (I am assuming you ran the standard WW section from West Table to Sheep Gulch.)
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Old 08-20-2014   #15
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661
It was glossed over in earlier posts but in my opinion finding friends/acquaintances that float and joining them, even if it be via a rented boat, will teach you a ton. I think in the long run a guide school, rowing school, outfitted overnighter would be great, but for now you need to confirm that you love this sport, for better or worse, before shelling out thousands in classes, lessons and gear. It may not be easy in your case (depending on the Cheyenne boating scene) but some networking will likely take you a long ways.

Now that your into it, you'll find more folks that float too, just start talking boating and asking questions. Once you find folks do some research, make sure they're not taking you somewhere you don't belong and be as prepared as you can be, that may include borrowing stuff from your new/old/rekindled friendships. I know we have plenty of extra gear and have introduced several dozed friends into rafting and we always enjoy corrupting newbies .

Anyways, get back out there on another day trip, ask around and find folks that are willing to take you along. Learning how to row or guide a paddle boat this next time out is not important, just get out and have fun err - safe fun and network!
Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back. - Agustus McCrae
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Old 08-20-2014   #16
BlackWidowSS's Avatar
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 2014
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 3
Yeah, we went with Sands Whitewater. It was a blast, but they said the river was flowing about 4.5k. There were a couple of descent rapids, and then Big Kahuna which was the worst, but wasn't terrible. Most of the bad rapids are little to no concern right now because the river was down so much.

Thank you all for the advice. We are looking at taking a possible trip to Idaho Springs and hitting some rapids down there in a week or two on a guided trip down a Class 3. Any raft purchase will definitely come later on, I am just trying to get a feel for the sport. I will look into the classes and training you all recommended, and we plan to get some experience under our belts with mild to medium guided trips before we try and do anything on our own or too wild. With that said, we would love to get a couple of more runs in before the season ends this year, and we would love to meet up with some people and get to know the community. We plan to make a trip up to Jackson and hit the Snake River again next year in May when the river is up.
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Old 08-20-2014   #17
BlackWidowSS's Avatar
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 2014
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 3
Here are a couple of pictures from our trip the other day. this was at the Big Kahuna rapid.
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Old 08-20-2014   #18
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 4
Good advice everywhere. Here's more: Get a tandem whitewater canoe and do some easy class 1/class 2 water. You'll learn a lot about reading water and even more about this girlfriend.
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Old 08-20-2014   #19
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 58
How to raft good

Almost everyone I boat with in the Southwest got their start by going on a trip and then seeking out and meeting local boaters. Buy a cheap bucket boat and frame/oars for $1000, meet some people on this website. Go on a trip or two and get mentored by private boaters, and if it does not suit you, sell the rig for what you paid for it or close to it. You cannot call yourself a dirt-bag boater if you take a couple of whitewater courses. Time on the river matters the most. Spend money on the trips.
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Old 08-21-2014   #20
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
A guide course is good, and I'll echo the advice to not invest in a boat until you have some miles in.
Find people with experience to float with and pick their brains.
It helps if you bring lots of beer and offer to do the groover and camp chores.
Be friendly, helpful and respectful.

You can always become a self important ass later.

Oh, and avoid Kayakers. They will corrupt you.

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