A Beginner’s Guide To River Rafting 

Whitewater rafting is fun, exciting, and exhilarating. It is also a fabulous way to experience wilderness and see spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery from a different perspective. 

Many of our guests are new to rafting and keen to see what all the hubbub is about. Let’s answer some commonly asked questions in our beginner’s guide to river rafting so to make everyone feel comfortable and knowledgeable about their upcoming Kicking Horse River rafting adventure.


rafts travelling along the river under the Park Bridge

Do I need to know how to swim? 

No. Guests, however, should be comfortable around moving water and be prepared to get splashed (it is river rafting, after all!). In addition to wetsuits, neoprene booties, spray jackets, and helmets, Wild Water Adventures also provides government-approved life jackets. A comprehensive safety briefing is conducted at the river’s edge before rafting begins. Be sure to pay attention to this briefing and to your guide once on the raft.  

What do I need to bring? 

Guests need only bring a few items from home: 

  • Bathing suit (to wear under the wetsuit)
  • Towel (for changing afterward back at the River Base) 



How big are the rapids?

 All trips have Class 2 & 3 waves and rapids. This translates into bouncy and splashy whitewater that spills over the sides of the rafts. For this reason, the Gentle trip makes for a perfect introduction to whitewater rafting with its ‘mild to moderate’ wave action. 

Our other trips also have Class 4 whitewater. This is the BIG stuff that produces BIG waves. Rafters will definitely get soaked in this kind of whitewater. The half-day Whitewater Exciter, full-length Tradition, and double-run Maximum Horsepower trips all raft the Class 4 ‘wild’ section of the river for which the Kicking Horse is famous. 

How many people are on a raft?

Our rafts hold a maximum of 8 guests, plus a guide. The raft is set up so that the guide sits in the middle, in a rowing position, with 4 guests in front and 4 guests behind. Our rafts are ‘self bailers’ which means when water lands in the raft, it drains away naturally without the need for guests to bail with a bucket. 

Will I fall out of the raft?

Every guide’s mission is to keep all rafters in the raft! Guests who listen to their guide and hold on when told to hold on have a really good chance of staying in the raft for the entire trip. For those statistically minded, of the 10,000 guests, on average, we take rafting each summer, only 30 or so unexpectedly fall out of the raft (because they usually are not holding on). The moral of the story: Listen to your guide and hold on! 

What happens if I do fall out of the raft?

Rafters in the water travel at the exact same speed as the raft itself. They do not get swept away. Anyone who unexpectedly finds themself in the water for a refreshing swim will stay close to the raft and be easily pulled back in by the other rafters. The safety talk at the beginning of the trip explains exactly what to do if such a rare and refreshing event occurs. 

Can I wear my eye-glasses on the trip?

For guests who wear prescription glasses and sunglasses, we do have a supply of safety straps available for sale at the River Base. Or, bring your own to prevent your glasses from falling in the river. 

Can I bring my camera? 

No. Cameras and cell phones stay safe (and dry) at the River Base while guests are on the river. Throughout the trip, our crew takes a variety of photographs that will be on display and available for sale afterward. We also have a limited amount of GoPro Hero cameras for rent, or helmets with GoPro mountings for those who wish to bring along their own GoPro camera.  



Is there anything to eat at the River Base? 

Yes. Our full-length Tradition automatically includes a gourmet packed lunch served back at the River Base

e after the trip. Guests joining us for a morning (8:45 AM) Gentle or Whitewater Exciter departure can upgrade to also enjoy the gourmet BBQ lunch. Hot and cold beverages are always served after every trip and pop, chips, and granola bars are available for sale as well. 


Where is the River Base?

All trips depart from our River Base, conveniently located on TransCanada Highway #1, 45 minutes west of Lake Louise and 20 minutes east of Golden. This is the location where all guests are to arrive at either 8:45 AM or 1:45 PM. For GoogleMap directions, simply click here.  Once at the RiverBase, Wild Water Adventures provides transportation to and from the river put-in and take-out locations. Just a short distance from Calgary, we offer the perfect rafting near Calgary experience. 



For answers to more questions, check out our Frequently Asked Questions page.

To chat further about any trip detail or question, please simply call us directly at 1-888-647-6444.  

See you soon on the river! 

Wild Water Adventures

Author: Deborah Wade 


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