Got any questions about your trip with us? Here are some of the answers to the most frequently asked questions we have received in our almost 40 years of experience as the premier outfitter in California. If you have any other question don’t hesitate to ask. We are here to serve and with our vast knowledge and experience.
DO I NEED PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE TO GO RAFTING?
No, many of our guests have never been rafting before and many have been coming back year after year. Don’t worry if you have never been. Our highly trained guides will provide you with all the necessary information and teach you all the skills necessary to have a wonderful, safe and truly enjoyable experience. Rafting is a fun, team activity that is great for all experience levels. If you haven’t been rafting before, you will be hooked once you have been with WET River Trips.
IS RAFTING SAFE?
Like all adventure sports there is some inherent risk. Unfortunately, rafting has long had the stigma that it is a dangerous, risky activity only suited for adrenaline junkies. The reality is rafting is very safe. Your safety is our number one priority both on and off the river. WET River Trips sets the standard for safety in whitewater rafting from providing helmets on all of our trips to implementing drug and alcohol policies, from our shuttle vans and drivers, to our guides and equipment. In addition, on our more challenging trips we employ highly trained safety kayakers and/or safety rafts with oar paddle combinations. By far our most substantial safety feature is our world-class, certified, professional guides. You will appreciate the difference and understand why we have a 100% safety record. These are just some of the reasons we are the leaders in the whitewater industry.
WILL I FALL OUT OF THE RAFT?
If you go rafting you will get wet. Whether or not you fall out of the raft is another story. We prefer to keep you in the raft while providing you with some excitement. Luckily for you, by choosing WET River Trips, you have chosen the company with the experience and skills to provide you with the experience of your choice. So, if you are apprehensive we will do our best to take more conservative lines to keep you in the raft. And if you want more of an adrenaline rush we can spice things up with more challenging lines. It’s your trip and we do our best to cater to the experience you are looking for. That being said, no one can guarantee that you won’t have an “out-of-boat” experience. However, falling out of the raft remains the exception not the rule. If you do fall out, 99% of the time you will pop up right next to the raft and we will pull you in before you know it. More often than not people barely realize they are out of the raft before they are pulled back in. If not all of our guides work as a team to ensure that any out of boat experiences are as safe as possible. So, if your boat isn’t right there to pick you up another one of rafts will be there to get you. Additionally on our more challenging class 4/5 trips we utilize safety kayakers and/or safety rafts to act as swim “coaches” and “rescue” you in the event that you have a not-so-fun swimming experience.
WILL MY CHILD FALL OUT OF THE RAFT?
The answer to this question is similar to the one above. Although kids tend to enjoy falling out of the raft more than their parents do. We take kids as young as 7 years old rafting on a daily basis and our highly experienced guides understand the responsibility of taking children rafting. We have seats in the middle of all of our rafts where kids can sit and hold on through rapids, just in case they may fall out. The last thing any of us want is for a child to have a scary experience rafting. It is therefore important for any parent to do their research to know what to expect on a rafting trip and choose the classification of river they are comfortable with. Our guides make rafting for kids so much fun that they will be nagging you for years to go again. Often a rafting trip for a child is a life changing experience that they never forget. If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to call 888-723-8938 or email us at email@example.com.
HOW FIT DO I HAVE TO BE?
Relax, there are no olympic like requirments to go rafting. We take “desk-jockeys” rafting all the time, and they have a great time being outside and getting a little exercise in the fresh air, even if they haven’t done that in years.
WHAT IF I CAN’T SWIM?
Although knowing how to swim is not a prerequisite for our South or Middle Fork trips, we recommend you have a good level of comfort with moving water for the North Fork. You’ll be wearing a high-float personal flotation device (“life-jacket”), so in the event of you making a premature exit from the raft, you’ll float and be pulled back in by a fellow paddler or your guide. All of our guests are outfitted with the very best life jackets at all times on the water. Before anyone gets on the river our guides check everyone’s personal flotation devices (PFDs) to make sure that they fit properly, are appropriate for their body, and are adjusted correctly.
WHAT DO I WEAR ON THE RIVER AND IN CAMP?
Dressing appropriately is key to your comfort on the river and that applies if it’s cold or hot. Spring trips are colder so lots of fleece thermals on the water covering all exposed skin and summer trips lots of sunscreen covering all exposed skin. We suggest you read our comprehensive list below of what to bring with you depending on the trip you are doing.
- Tennis shoes to wear on the raft and when swimming. They’ll get wet, so don’t bring your best shoes.
- Or river sandals or equivalent only. NO flip flops, wet shoes or aqua shoes.
- Swimsuit or shorts and T-shirt to wear on the rafts.
- Extra tennis shoes or other shoes for something dry to wear around camp or on your way home.
- Wide-brimmed hat, visor or cap (tie-on).
- Sunglasses with neck strap, suntan lotion, sunscreen, lip ointment. The sun is very hot.
- Plastic water bottle w/strap
- Waterproof camera.
For multi-day trips:
- Sleeping Bag
- Tent - Complimentary, please reserve in advance.
- Foam Pad
- Sheet for very warm night when it is too hot to get into your sleeping bag.
- Duffle bag or soft pack to carry your gear.
- Long sleeved shirt and pants for evening. In April, May and September, the nights and early mornings are cool, so bring warmer clothes, i.e., long pants, warm jacket, sweater, etc.
- Folding chair.
- Towel, washcloth, toiletries.
- Fishing equipment including bait suitable for bass and trout.
- Light rain jacket or nylon windbreaker, polar fleece jacket or vest, wool sweater and wool socks in case it’s overcast.
In addition on spring trips:
- Any garments made of non-cotton, synchilla, wool, fleece, capilene, etc.
- Wet-suit - Available to rent
- Hat made of above materials.
- Heavy pair of wool socks.
- Warm sleeping bag, especially in April and early May.
- Wool or fleece sweater, vests, etc., for nighttime.
- Wetsuit, booties, jacket, sweater or dry suit. Wetsuits and Paddle Jackets are available to rent.
- Please do not bring any cotton items on the river with you if you are concerned about staying warm. (This includes jeans and sweatshirts.) When cotton gets wet it robs your body of heat and is unsuitable for physical activity. Synthetic clothing, such as fleece, polypro, or capilene provides the best option for warmth retention.
DO I TAKE A CHANGE OF CLOTHES AND/OR A TOWEL WITH ME ON THE RAFT?
No, there is no need for a change of clothes or a towel on the raft.
I HAVE A CAMERA, CAN I TAKE IT ON THE RAFT? WHAT ABOUT A GOPRO?
Yes, if it is a waterproof camera that can be fastened to the collar of your life jacket. Keep in mind that in rapids you will be paddling and not taking pictures! On almost all of our trips there will be a professional photographer who will capture all the action on the river. These will be available for you to purchase after the trip if you wish. If you have a GoPro, bring it at your own risk. Some of our helmets have GoPro mounts, use at your own risk.
CAN I BRING MY OWN LIFE JACKET OR HELMET?
Unfortunately, we do not allow you to wear your own PFD or helmet on our guided adventures. Our rafting safety equipment is specific to commercial use and our liability does not cover personal safety gear.
WHAT DO I TAKE ON THE RAFT?
- All you need on your raft in addition to the clothes you are wearing:
- Water Bottle
- 1 tube or can of sunscreen to share amongst the raft if you all know each other.
- Waterproof camera – something small that can attach to your lifejacket.
- Any medications, inhalers, etc. that you require.
HOW EXPERIENCED ARE YOUR RIVER GUIDES?
WET has always been known on the American River as the company that has the most experienced guides. We are one of the only companies owned by a professional guide still guiding at the highest level in the rafting industry. All of our guides are highly experienced professionals, with an average of over 10 years of experience. Many of them grew up on these rivers and know them better than anyone else. We are well above the minimum standards set by California that most others follow. They are certified in Advanced First Aid, CPR, Advanced Swiftwater Rescue. Our guides are the best in the industry. When you raft with us you know you are in good hands.
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM/MAXIMUM AGE?
Our trips are for people of all ages. Our minimum age limit on the South Fork is 7 years old, on the Middle Fork it’s 14 years old, and on the North Fork the minimum age is 14. While our trips are focused on fun regardless of age, we do not advise you try to bring under age kids on trips.
WHICH TRIP IS RIGHT FOR ME?
We can certainly advise you on which trip best suits your needs however we prefer to leave this decision up to you. Our knowledgeable office staff are always available to help in the event you can’t decide just how much fun you want to have!
If this is your first raft trip we recommend the South Fork American River, a Class III trip with plenty of excitement even for experienced rafters. For those who want more thrills, we suggest the Middle Fork American River with Class III – IV rapids or the North Fork American River with Class IV – V rapids and enough paddle action to satisfy anyone. For those wanting the most action and time on the water, try one of our Combo Trips. If you want a true wilderness experience we recommend a Middle Fork 2-Day Trip. But be warned, with over 80% of our guests returning year after year, our trips can be very addictive.
WHAT IS and IS NOT INCLUDED WITH MY TRIP?
We all hate hidden costs with a passion! After you arrive and have met the crew, you will get a Shuttle to put-in and back to your vehicles after the trip. At the put-in site, you will get a high quality Commercial Type 5 PFD, a Helmet, a Paddle, and a comprehensive Safety Talk, on all of our trips. Wetsuits with paddle jackets can be rented for spring trips if you do not have your own. Every one of our trips does come with a good looking, outrageously fun, experienced, entertaining and professional raft guide, however, we cannot always guarantee the good-looking part!
A gourmet dinner and continental or delicious, full, hot breakfast is included with 2-day trips or if you have added it to your trip.
A gourmet deli lunch is included on all of our trips except for our Chili Bar Express trips and our afternoon Express Gorge Run.
After your trips, we shuttle you back to our River Camp in Coloma or to your vehicle in Auburn if you met us there for your Middle Fork or North Fork trip.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET SICK OR HURT?
Due to the nature of a river trip, you are often in remote hard to reach locations and we want you to feel comfortable in your new environment. Our river guides are highly qualified professionals who are trained in Wilderness First Aid, CPR and Swiftwater Rescue Techniques. In the highly unlikely event of an accident, your guides will have the experience to deal with a huge variety of ailments and medical situations. Everything from a broken finger nail to an injured back or neck injury. We carry comprehensive First Aid kits on all of our trips, we carry a rescue beacon and/or cell phone on all of our trips, and we have the ability to evacuate you if we feel it’s necessary.
WHAT DOES CLASS III, CLASS IV AND CLASS V REALLY MEAN?
The classification of rapids is based on the difficulty to safely maneuver through them and the risk of injury due to swimming.
Ages: 7 and up
Novice to Intermediate
Moderate Physical Activity
Medium whitewater. Exciting and challenging but not overwhelming. Perfect for novices, youths ages 6 and up, as well as experienced rafters.
Great for large groups, families, friends, and first timers
Ages: 14 and up
Moderate Physical Activity
Medium to difficult whitewater; more action, more intricate maneuvers. Okay for novices in average physical condition. Great choice for adventurous kids and adults. Rapids have swift currents and bigger drops. These trips require active paddling.
Ages: 14 and up
Vigorous Physical Activity
Medium to very difficult whitewater; bigger drops, constant maneuvering, lots of action. Prior rafting experience a good idea but not necessary. Best for enthusiastic rafters seeking maximum excitement. Class V rapids contain steep, technical drops and long, fast wave trains.
WILL THERE BE ENOUGH OR TOO MUCH WATER?
This year you probably aren’t worried about not enough water. Either way the great thing about the American Rivers is the guaranteed flows we have, even in the driest of years, thanks to the dams upstream. This year with such an amazing snow pack we will have amazing flows on all of our rivers.
The 2017 will be an amazing year for whitewater rafting in California. This season will have something for everyone who is looking to get on the river whether you are experienced and adventurous, or an apprehensive first-timer looking for an easier Class III rafting trip.
Due to a string of wet storms that were hitting California all Winter long, we now have full reservoirs and plenty of water stored in snow that will be melting throughout Spring and early Summer. This all means more whitewater and longer rafting season...good news for anyone wanting to experience California rivers at their best.
Thanks to well above average snowpack, all rivers will have higher than normal flows during the springtime months of April, May and June. River flows will range from Moderately-High to High (and possibly Very High at times) and because they are dependent on a variety of factors, it is important to anticipate changing conditions and be flexible when making trip plans. Participants rafting during this time should be competent swimmers, adventurous, active, not overweight. Minimum recommended age may be increased on trips taking place at higher flows. Springtime 2017 will be an exciting time on California rivers and we can’t wait to share the rivers with our guests.
Those looking for rafting at normal flows have a lot to look forward to as well this year! Once the river flows return to normal levels some time during the summertime months (specific time will vary by river), we will have trip options ranging from Class III trips on the South Fork American up to Class V rafting on the North Fork American.
For more specific information about each river’s season predictions, see the individual river sections below or contact us - depending on what you are looking for (Beginner-Intermediate or more Advanced) we will be happy to help you find the best trip and time of year to raft for your group.
The South Fork of the American River is a classic "dam-controlled" river with six reservoirs upstream of the whitewater section. Due to the large amount of stored water, these upstream reservoirs are able to release water year round on. The South Fork is expected to flow seven days a week at Moderately-High to High flows during the spring months of April through June, possibly into July, with the highest flows expected mid-May through the end of June. Flows will begin to decrease in July and by the mid-summer Normal flows (1300-1800 CFS) will occur through Labor Day (September 4th) seven days a week. These flows will continue Thursday - Sunday in September and Friday-Monday in October. During the off-season winter months of November-March, raftable flows are released on the weekends.
* No matter what kind of winter California has - lots or a little precipitation, the South Fork of the American's has constant flows, even during periods of sustained drought like last year, thanks to licensing agreements with the upstream dams we have guaranteed raftable flows (1200 cfs) all year long. Giving us many fun and exciting rapids, making it one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the United States if not the world.
1200 - 1700 CFS = Normal flows, usually associated with summer and fall. Plenty of fun Class II & III whitewater and beautiful scenery. Great flow for first timers, groups and families, yet still enjoyable for experienced boaters. Wetsuits only required during cooler months.
1700 - 5000 CFS = Moderately-High flows. Challenging Class III+ whitewater, exciting for first timers and veterans alike. Less technical (fewer rock obstacles), bigger waves, swifter moving water than at Normal flows. Wetsuits usually required. .
5000 -8000 CFS = High flows. Challenging Class III-IV whitewater. Faster moving water with powerful waves and longer rapids. Participants should be competent swimmers, active, not overweight. Wetsuits required. Usual minimum age increased to 12 and 90 lbs.
Above 8000 CFS = Very High flows. The river changes into an Intermediate Class IV river at these unusually high flows. Speed of water, size of waves, length of rapids increase. Participants should be competent swimmers, active, not overweight. Wetsuits required. Usual minimum age increased to 14 years.
Rafting flows on the beautiful Middle Fork American River typically occur seven days a week starting in May thanks to consistent water releases from two upstream reservoirs. In 2017 the flows on the Middle Fork are expected to rise above 2000 CFS during the Spring months of April through June. At these High flows the river starts to “washout” and some rapids need to be portaged - for that reason trips are not offered during this high water period. Flows should return back to Normal by late June or early July and last through mid or late September (to be determined later).
The Middle Fork is one of the best options for 1 and 2-Day wilderness trips. Predictable water releases from the Oxbow PG&E Powerhouse just above the run create a wonderful opportunity for Class III - IV rafting inside a 2000' deep wilderness canyon.
850 - 1300 CFS = Normal flows. Perfect for adventurous first timers or experienced paddlers. An excellent opportunity to experience Class IV whitewater while enjoying the stunning beauty of the Middle Fork canyon. Usual minimum age: 12 years old and 90 lbs.
1300 - 2000 CFS = Moderately-High flows. More challenging Class IV whitewater, yet suitable for a wide range of skill levels. Wetsuits may be required during cooler months.
2000 - 4000 CFS = High flows. Portages required around several major rapids. Trips are not usually offered during periods of high flows due to the number of portages.
Above 4000 CFS = Very High flows. Not advisable. Most rapids are either washed out or need to be portaged.
The North Fork American River is a free-flowing river, because of the above average snowpack, the 2017 rafting season is expected to start in early April and run through the end of June maybe even July. The river will be running at Moderately-High to High flows for much of its season. Since this river relies on snow melt the season is shorter than other rivers and in most years only lasts until the middle or end of May.
*Proceed with caution when rafting at high flows.
800 - 1200 CFS = Lower flows. Class IV whitewater. Great for veteran paddlers and adventurous first timers who like the challenge of paddling difficult, technical rapids. Wetsuits only required during cooler months.
1200 - 1800 CFS = Normal flows. Challenging Class IV+ whitewater, exciting for veterans and adventurous first-timers. Less rock obstacles and more waves. Participants should be competent swimmers, active, not overweight. Wetsuits required.
1800 - 2200 CFS = Moderately-High flows. Challenging Class IV+ whitewater,faster moving water, with bigger waves and longer rapids. Participants should be competent swimmers, active, not overweight. Previous experience recommended and helpful. Wetsuits required.
2200 - 3000 CFS = High flows. Very challenging Class IV+/V whitewater. Speed of water, size of waves and drops increase. Calm sections between rapids become shorter in length. Out of boat experiences (unplanned swims) become more challenging. Participants should be competent swimmers, active, not overweight. Previous experience prefered and helpful. Wetsuits required.
Above 3000 CFS = Very High flows. Class V whitewater. The river rarely gets to these levels. When it does, it has similar features to High flows, but everything about the rapids is bigger and faster. The water in the calm sections also moves at a swifter pace. Participants should be athletic, competent swimmers, with previous experience. Wetsuits required.