Seven Whitewater Rafting Tips for First Timers

Whitewater rafting is all about paddling and splashing your way around a river while having the most electrifying time of your life. It is an excellent way to ditch the stress and bring out the explorer in you. But as thrilling and unforgettable as this sport is, it can be difficult for first-timers.

river rafting

Like any other sport, river rafting calls for mental and physical fitness. It can be tricky for many beginners, partly because the skills are difficult to employ unless you’ve done something of this sort before. But, at the same time, learning how to whitewater raft is not the most challenging thing in the world. Practically anyone can enjoy themselves while whitewater rafting, provided they come prepared, know all the necessary information, and follow the rules.

To help make the most of your rafting experience, here are a few tips every first-time rafter should know to make the most out of their trip to the river.

  1. Choose the right river

Whitewater rafting, often known as river rafting, is a common outdoor recreational activity that involves people paddling down rivers in rafts, usually in groups. Given you have decided to try white water rafting, your first step should be to gather some information about the river you’ll be rafting on. Depending on where you are headed, there can be plenty of options and difficulty levels, so do your research and choose a good location. So is your plan to plan a trip to try this sport? Or have you ended up somewhere that offers the experience and don’t want to miss out?

Like if you are in Tennessee, you shouldn’t miss out on rafting on the Ocoee river, given it is a fantastic spot to try whitewater rafting for the first time. On this trip, you’ll be in class III and IV rapids for 5 miles straight, with more than 17 major rapids. This section has warm water in the summer, big waves, challenging rapids, and beautiful mountains, guaranteeing a lot of fun. You can enjoy the gorgeous Cherokee National Forest views while rafting and make the most of your trip!

  1. Wear proper attire

You cannot always stay dry, even if you try to stay in the boat. But there are some things you can do to make sure you stay comfy, and your clothes are not dripping with water the whole time.

Avoid wearing cotton, which absorbs heat from the body and takes a long time to dry. Instead, wear synthetic fabric, which is more appropriate since it dries quickly. As for footwear, you need something that won’t slip off your feet, so sandals and flip-flops are out of the question. It is time to bring out your old sneakers or buy yourself water shoes or river sandals.

  1. Wear your life jacket properly

Your guide will check that you have fastened your life jacket properly before dropping the raft into the raging current. Each buckle needs to be fastened securely, and the jacket needs to fit so that you may move freely but cannot pull it over your head. Wondering why? Well, your life jacket must fit you snugly since your guide or group members may need to use it to pull you back into the raft if you fall out.

  1. Pay attention to your guide

Pay close attention to your guide’s instructions before boarding your boat. Your guide provides you with various safety precautions, the type of river flow, how to use your gear, proper paddling and rowing methods, and much more. Given that this is your first-time river rafting, you must ensure you are prepared for the trip and know all the safety precautions. Ask your guide for advice if you can think of a pressing circumstance and are unsure how to handle it.

  1. Remember the paddling technique

Knowing the correct paddling technique is crucial for the ideal rafting experience. Always keep one hand on the T-grip and the other halfway down the shaft while using a paddle. Holding the T-grip not only makes paddling simpler but also guards against unintentionally hurting other people with the paddle. Pay attention to paddling instructions to keep up with the other participants in your group when whitewater rafting. To ensure a practical and comfortable rafting trip, maintain the same paddle force as everyone else.

  1. Understand what to do if you somehow fall out of the raft

No matter how hard we try, there are occasions when our guides are helpless to stop dire circumstances like these from happening. Knowing what to do next is crucial if and when this occurs.

  • Swim towards the raft and grasp onto the outside safety harness. While you’re waiting for someone to pull you back into the raft, call out to your fellow rafters. Keep your life jacket on because they will use it to lift you into the boat by grabbing onto it.
  • Call your fellow rafters for a throw bag or a paddle to hang onto if you cannot reach the outside safety harness.
  • If, after a few seconds, you cannot hold onto either of these, take the whitewater swimming position. Your feet should be directed downstream while you lie on your back.


  1. Manage your fears 

Whitewater rafting can be intimidating, whether it’s your first time or you’ve done it before. But what if you arrive at the river, there’s a little more motion than you anticipated? First and foremost, you must pay attention to the safety instructions to know what to do if someone falls from the boat. Then, take a deep breath and remember that your guides are experienced, skilled individuals who can read the river as you enter the rapids. Trust their abilities, and feel free to inform them if you are frightened.

Learning to swim before engaging in this sport could be a good idea if you want to be more confident and less scared of the water. But, of course, having a strong mind is necessary because the first-time rafting experience is thrilling and a little scary.


With the help of these whitewater rafting tips, beginners can enjoy their first rafting experience on the river without any fears. So leave your worries behind, soak in the beautiful views, and indulge in the trip of your lifetime. If this is your first time rafting, you will be coming back for more soon.