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Old 03-07-2009   #1
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 8
Rafting for a newbie

How does a whitewater newbie get started rafting? I've seen kayaking classes for beginners, and I'm considering those, but I'd like to learn rafting so I can take my wife and daughter along on trips. I don't see them ever being interested in kayaking, but I think we'd all enjoy raft trips. We're planning to take some guided trips this summer, but I'd like to learn to guide my own craft.

Also, any raft captains looking for a novice paddler this summer, let me know. I'll pay more than my share of expenses and do more than my share of the work.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Old 03-07-2009   #2
rwhyman's Avatar
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 961
High Country River Rafters (HCRR) usually has a rookie training class followed by an on river day on the Upper C at Pumphouse.

High Country River Rafters - Home Page

The spring schedule should be posted soon.

That's how I got started.

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Old 03-07-2009   #3
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 524
Shameless plug:
If you're already planning on taking commercial trips, Holiday marked down their May 16th Yampa (Great Deals on Rafting Vacations with Holiday Expeditions). It's a beautiful river, and if you request me as a guide I'll get you on the oars and try to impart what little wisdom I have to offer.
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Old 03-08-2009   #4
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 8

Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, my work schedule won't allow me a 5 day trip in May, but I really appreciate the offer. If you have any long weekend trips, let me know and I'll definitely try to make it.

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Old 03-08-2009   #5
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
Honestly, if you've done a fair bit of kayaking and know how to read water, you can learn to row pretty quickly on your own. Not to take anything away from professional guides - it takes considerable skill to row Browns or the Royal Gorge; and you have to be damn good to guide the Upper Animas or Gore.

But you're talking about mellow floating trips with the wife and kid (depending how old she is) - in your first year you're probably going to hit Ruby Horsethief, Domniguez on the Gunny, and some other Class I-II runs before going up to the Upper Colorado for Pumphouse, etc. Just take your time, learn from other oarsmen/women and don't bit off more than you can chew. If you can take a class, even better.

The biggest issues are 1) swiftwater safety, which you presumably have a fair bit from kayaking, and 2) caring for your expensive investment (raft).
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Old 03-08-2009   #6
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 6
I have been rafting since 95 and pretty much run Browns canyon every weekend in the summer. I might be willing to take you down on my boat and give you pointers and let you row the flat sections. If interested we can work out the details later. I will probably start rafting in late april depending on flows.
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Old 03-09-2009   #7
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 262
KODI Class...

Campy at KODI rafting has a "Private Boater Awareness" class for two weekends in May which covers oar and paddle rigs, basic swift water rescue, etc.

I have heard good things about it and Campy seems like a nice knowledgable dude. My wife and I are signed up to be there this spring...

Check it out:


Contact Campy for the full details...

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Old 03-09-2009   #8
davecosnowboarder's Avatar
boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 143
I raft as much as possible and my first run was on the pumphouse section of the upper colorado. It is still a favorite for beer floats and anyone is welcome.
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Old 03-10-2009   #9
Rockingham, North Carolina
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 54
I am in the same boat. Ha ha.. Just got my first raft, a 14.5' Sotar bucket about 5 months ago. We float Alaska rivers each year, usually in the arctic. We use Ally pack canoes, but are getting into rafting. Contacted a white water guide at Nantahala Outdoors in the mountains of North Carolina (my home state) and they will give me and the wife private lessons with our oared raft. This was not advertised on their site, but when I contacted them, they were happy to help. Maybe contacting some white water outfitters/guides in your area would end the same. Like $300 per day, but it is personal instruction that will help me learn how to row our raft and it is close to home. I found the same thing you did, kayak this and that. Classes and one on one instruction, but nothing specific to rafting. Let alone rowing a raft. Email some outfitters in your area and see what you come up with. Also, got a book "Whitwater Rafting" from Amazon. Forget the author, maybe Jeff something, but it was printed in 1997 and has a yellow cover. Reason I say is there is a cheesy older book (green cover) by the same/similar title. Also on Amazon, I got a dvd "get wet" that is a good intro to rafting and white water.
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Old 03-10-2009   #10
WhiteLightning's Avatar
Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 928
Look for a raft guide training program with an outfitter that does weekend training if you can't take a week or two off work.

It takes a big man to cry...It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man.

-Jack Handy
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