What is too young of an age to raft Brown's Canyon? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-28-2011   #1
Austin, Texas
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 4
What is too young of an age to raft Brown's Canyon?

Concerned parent here hoping to get some advice from the more experienced rafters on this board. We are planning to take a 1/2 day commercial rafting trip down Brown's canyon next week. I believe this is the trip that is described as "good" for beginners or those with less experience. We have 4 adults going and 2 children. The 4 adults are fit and good swimmers so not concerned with them. My concern is the kids are ages 10 and 13 and with the recent news on rising river flows I'm a little worried. Both kids have never been rafting before but are good swimmers for their age.

Should I reconsider the trip for the kids or is Brown's safe for kids these ages even at the current water levels? Obviously I just don't want to put my kids in a dangerous situation understanding that the rivers are unpredictable and bad things do happen from time to time. Thanks!

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Old 06-28-2011   #2
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 61
As long as the adults paddle and follow the guides commands all should be well.

I used to guide that section, took groups like yours down at this water level no problems.

If you want some "extra" saftey, when you book request that you be in the "TL's" (trip leaders) boat, that we be one of the more experenced guides that company has.

Have a great trip
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Old 06-28-2011   #3
DeeGardiner's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 89
I am not familiar with that river, but my rule of thumb before I took my kids on raft trips was that they had to jump off the high dive at the pool. I figured if they could do that, they may not totally freak out if they fell out of the boat. But it also depends on the temperment of the child. If they keep their cool under stress, they should be fine. But if they easily panic, it might be different. I have even known adults who panic when they fall out. They start screaming for help and swallow water. In general I didn't take my kids on overnight trips until they were 8 years old. I took my youngest when he was 5 (on a more mellow trip), but I had one of the other kids play with him pretty much non stop.
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Old 06-28-2011   #4
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 37
Most companies go by weight rather than age. For example if they weigh above 50 lbs. they are capable of wearing a youth jacket which really is the key. Browns Canyon is a class III run with maybe one IV involved at this high water. If the youngest is 10 and is active then you should have nothing to worry about over anyone else that falls into the water. They will float relatively the same and with the high water and sunshine you can count on there being lots of people which means lots of opportunities for a rescue.

Whitewater rafting carries certain risks that everyone needs to accept before they go, but so do many other activities you participate in your everyday life. Kids these days are far more mature than younger generations so maybe just simply ask them and tell them the risks involved. Even at 10 years old they should know what they like and what they would like to avoid
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Old 06-28-2011   #5
golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 6
what age for kids

My daughters are now in their 20's. I followed the simple rule, "can they self rescue?" If the answer is no or maybe... there will always be another opportunity for them to do a trip. Sunnyman
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Old 06-28-2011   #6
Breckenridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1
I liked someone's reply on an earlier Upper C thread....if you can't self rescue then you don't belong on the river at these high water levels. Done. Good luck, paddle hard!
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Old 06-28-2011   #7
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Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,235
To sound terse: They have to be old enough where you'd be willing to risk them swimming any given rapid. Or.. what everyone else said about self rescue.

A little less terse: I'd suggest you put them on something in the class II range first and do a bit of swimming in moving water. Browns is considered a good river to run for families though at high water it can be just as deadly as anything else.
On the river, I can abandon who I am and what I've done. However brief it lasts, while on the river I am nothing important and everything insignificant. I am flotsam, and happy to be so.
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Old 06-28-2011   #8
frisco, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 75
Take $150.00 and show it to the guide BEFORE your tip. Put this money into your children's pockets in plain view of everyone on the trip. Tell all the guides that if the children fall in the river so does their tip. Pick out the most unkept guide with the oldest dirtiest life jacket, if it has duct tape, even better. If you want to be safe do not go with the young, good looking, clean, brand new gear wearing guide, who is on summer break from some stupid college.
full yellow life jacket
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Old 06-28-2011   #9
mustloverafting's Avatar
Aspen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 66
I too am a concerned parent. About 5 years ago I took my one year old out on my raft through Browns running about 4k. He did fall out twice but with a quick recovery, he was okay. He just turned 6 and loves the river and the water. He has even learned to pee in the river when he was two. BTW a picture of him is on my profile to the left with his yellow PFD on.
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Old 06-28-2011   #10
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Cedaredge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 28
Most of the responses above sound reasonable but I agree most with hojo. I've been boating, (including guiding, and as river ranger) for over 35 years. Over the years I've pulled people out of danger but also in my younger days I put some there. An expert's familiarity with the risk does not necessarily diminish the risk. I wouldn't take my own kids (grand-kids) down Browns at high water. I've seen too much.
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