What You Need to Know for Your First Time White Water Rafting

What You Need To Know For Your First Time White Water Rafting

Whitewater rafting looks thrilling in the videos and pictures. It is a great recreational activity ideal for families at any skill level. Take in the breathtaking panoramas from Utah’s splendid rivers, in the expert care of your Red Rivers Adventures expert Moab river rafting guide. Below are some basics that are helpful to know on your first-time whitewater rafting in Moab, Utah.

What Are the Best Months for Moab Rafting?

We operate rafting tours in Moab from March to September. The river rafting conditions change year to year based on the snowpack received, which determines water levels. Use the following information to choose the best time to go rafting based on what you’re seeking. Generally speaking:

  • Early spring to summer — the weather hasn’t warmed up to the point of melting a large portion of the snowpack yet, so waters are calmer with lower water levels.
  • Summer to fall — As Moab heats up in the late spring to summer months, the snowpack melts more quickly and thus feeds the river with more water resulting in higher water levels and more extreme rapids. Peak water levels will be in June.

If you have questions, contact Red River Adventures and we can help create the perfect whitewater rafting excursion for your family.

Is There a Minimum Age Requirement for Whitewater Rafting?

Yes, the minimum age limit for whitewater rafting is 5 years old, and all kids must weigh at least 40 pounds (18 kilograms). All Moab rafting trips hosted by Red River Adventures are comfortable and accessible for virtually everyone.

Do You Need Experience for Whitewater Rafting?

No, prior experience in rafting, paddling, or swimming is not necessary for mild rapids. Your certified rafting guide will direct you throughout the trip, provide safety advice in advance, and explain what to expect at upcoming parts of the river all along your river trip.

How Many People Will Be in the Raft?

Most of our rafts are smaller to provide a more personal and exciting experience floating on the river. Red River Adventures rafts seat an average of 5 people and a licensed rafting guide.

What Should I Wear and Bring with Me?

Every raft occupant is a given helmet, a personal flotation device, and a paddle. We suggest using old gym shoes, water shoes, or sandals that will not come off. Flip-flops or loose-fitting sandals should not be worn. REMEMBER: Any time of year, wearing sunscreen is strongly advised. 

River Rapids Rating Scale

The beginner-level rafting experience is ideal for vacationing families and recreational groups. As you’re learning about whitewater rafting with a guide in the Moab area, you may see the rapids described by class number, as below. The rapids class ratings indicate the level of difficulty of traversing a segment of the river in a watercraft. There are six categories of challenge:

Classes of River Rapids Descriptions of Rapids
Class I Very Easy, minimal challenges, good for beginners.
Class II Easy, minimal strength of rapids, some small objects to maneuver around for the novice rafter.
Class III Medium strength, irregular rapids with numerous objects to maneuver around.
Class IV Difficult with fast current, powerful rapids, boiling eddies, and precise maneuvring required; for advanced whitewater rafters
Class V Very difficult rapids with continuous, violent rapids, high navigational difficulty, only for expert-level whitewater rafters who have full familiarity with the river
Class VI Extremely difficult and dangerous rapids. Rapids may only be navigatable during favorable conditions and this water should only be left to professionals using extreme caution

Note: Red River Adventure provides Class I – III rapids only. If you are looking for a specific level of difficulty, call us. We don’t always stick to a designated itinerary every single time, and we can take you to different parts of the river based on the level of difficulty you are seeking.

Book Your Whitewater Rafting Trip in Moab, Utah with Red River Adventures Today!

We are Moab’s only adventure guide service with permits for guided river rafting, rock climbing, canyon exploration, and National Park trips. We offer the best rafting in Moab, in either single-day or multiple-day adventures. Our professional whitewater rafting guides are all highly qualified and hold professional certifications. Our boats for rafting are smaller, which makes our river trips more personal and exciting!

On our rafting trips, we treat our guests like family, but we manage all equipment and raft handling with a great abundance of professional knowledge and skill, and safety is our top priority. It makes sense that Trip Advisor has named Red River Adventures among the best of its travel recommendations 5 times.

Start your whitewater rafting adventure by calling Red River Rafting Tours at (435) 259-4046, to schedule your river rafting trip, or contact us online anytime.

The River People
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We strive to ensure that time spent with us is time that you will always look back on fondly. We want to leave you with a memories that bring a smile to your face no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, and no matter how much time has passed. In addition to a deep reservoir of personal experience, our rafting guides are licensed by the state of Utah, have Wilderness First Responder and/or First Aid/CPR certifications, and are insured. Many guides also have swiftwater rescue training. Our climbing and canyoneering guides are AMGA-certified for the terrain in which they operate. Our skiing guides are certified for the terrain, and some are world-renowned for their experience. All of our guides are intimately acquainted with not only the river, rock and snow, but also with the incredible surroundings of the areas we guide.
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Erick Esparza
April 23, 2022

What a great experience! We had the best day hiring a guide to take me and my daughter rock climbing and repelling. Going with a private guide was extra special, just the 2 of us got a chance to enjoy our day without being in a large group. We will be back! Thanks Red River for helping us make amazing memories in Moab!

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Doug Hanson
April 23, 2022

Great raft guides! Cold raining day. They provided rain gear. Great scenery. Made new friends paddling against the headwind. Fun. A memory!

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greta Franson
April 23, 2022

Such a fun adventure repelling from cliffs in the Utah dessert! Our guide Dan was so amazing and kept us safe and kept us calm in a few times of nerve wracking adrenaline moments! We will all have memories to last a lifetime!

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Geoff Cowles
April 19, 2022

Amazing half day climbing in Moab with guide Aaron Livingston. He took us to the Wall Street area and setup a bunch of toprope climbs for my girls (10 & 12) and myself in the 5.7-5.9 range that each had distinct climbing (friction, layback crack, chimney). His route selection was challenging and fun. Aaron has significant personal and guiding climbing experience and knowledge of the Moab area and was rigorous with respect to safety. I would not hesitate to hire Aaron and Red River Adventures again. Can't wait to come back!

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Greg Sidberry
April 18, 2022

Great coaching and training. Highly recommend for AMGA training and outdoor trips

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Maddie Watton
April 15, 2022

Had a great evening experience on Ancient Art in Fisher towers. My guide Aaron was extremely knowledgeable, encouraging and friendly. He was able to coach me through tougher sections of the climb and was patient with me during my first multi pitch trip. He also took pictures and was genuinely interested in making sure I had a fun session. Even though my climbing day had to be delayed due to weather, red river called me immediately to reschedule and worked within my schedule to make it happen. Overall can’t recommend them enough!

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Nicole Drury
April 11, 2022

We did the Bow and Arrow canyoneering trip yesterday with our family. We were a group of five people from age 9-75 and everyone had an amazing time. Aaron and Sharbo were incredible guides and this was the highlight of our trip.

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Stephanie Dean
April 10, 2022

Fantastic route, great views, and an amazing day ascending rock. This is my second time climbing with Red River Adventures, and there is a consistent level of quality/safety that I appreciate.

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Brenda Fay
March 28, 2022

Canyoneering on the Bow & Arrow trail was great. Our guide, Brian, shared info about the petroglyphs & plant life during the walk. Brian was very reassuring & positive when we went on the rappels. The rappels were a good mix of heights (ranging from 15 ft to 120ft). Brian made us, as beginners, very comfortable. It was a great family experience and we highly recommend.

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Shannon Lincoln
March 25, 2022

I was a little worried my 8 year old would be too scared to complete the rappelling, but our guide was great, talked him through it and we all had a blast. Great memories made! Thanks Red River Adventures!

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Kelli Cook
March 24, 2022

We thoroughly enjoyed our canyoneering adventure with Brian and Adam! They were knowledgeable and thoughtful and funny! We would highly recommend! Our family included our 12, 13, and 16 year olds and they loved it as well! Thank you!

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Ryan Melvin
March 23, 2022

Our guides Adam and Bryan were a lot of fun and also very safety minded. They did a great job of making sure everyone was comfortable and gave lots of good info along the way. Would definitely recommend Red River for adventuring.

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Kathi Ried
March 21, 2022

Super awesome canyoneering trip!! We took Bow and Arrow (?) and did 4 rappels! We had Chabro (not sure if that’s how it’s spelled) and Dan and they were both awesome! They were super helpful when there was some more climbing aspects to the trail. They were both super friendly and made us feel safe and secure the whole time. They helped to make the experience that much more awesome. I would highly recommend since it’s just such a cool experience! The scenery was particularly breathtaking and included some of the coolest views in Moab.

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Leah Bates
March 20, 2022

We had the best time this morning!! Family of 5 with three kids ages 15 to 8. Guides were amazing and the route was perfect!! Gorgeous views!! Highly recommend!!!

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David Karp
March 14, 2022

John is a great guide - have been out desert climbing and Wasatch touring with him and both experiences were great. Really took the time to explain things and get the newer members of our group excited and confident about the adventure

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Julie King
March 7, 2022

My husband and I had an awesome time this weekend in the Wasatch for our AIARE 1 Course! John and Garth were both incredible instructors and I feel grateful to have spent a weekend touring and learning from some of the best. Highly recommend!

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Patrick Plaggenborg
March 2, 2022

Carl saved our week. It hadn’t been properly snowing in Utah for a long long time, and judging from the snow in the resorts we were a bit worried about our backcountry touring trip. He knew exactly where to go. Where everything else was all tracked out, and there were even moguls in some backcountry areas. Not where we went. We skinned up an amazing peak around Big Cottonwood Canyon, through the trees, up a ridge for some of the most beautiful views, and then down into the back bowl where we actually found knee deep soft snow. Carl was an amazing guide, knew his ways up the mountain, taught us some new techniques along the way, and is just an incredible fun guy to hang out with. Highly recommended.

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Joshua Clutter
March 1, 2022

John was incredibly knowledgeable and able to teach effectively. He had great resources to point us toward for continued self-learning and was engaging in the field.

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Michael Mckinnon
February 25, 2022

The 3 day Avi close with John was excellent.

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rob conklin
February 24, 2022

My wife and I went with Carl. Incredible backcountry experience!! Powder powder powder. Really helped us get some back country experience and educate us on a path forward for newbies to be able to split board independently. He is an incredible guide with many years experience and perhaps more importantly a really cool guy.

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Rob Stinner
February 19, 2022

Spent the day ice climbing with Owner/AMGA Guide Carl who was fantastic! It was my first multi-pitch climb at the Great White Icicle and Carl made it safe, fun and informative. He explained each step as we moved up the ice wall and did everything I could ask of a guide. I would highly recommend Red River and Carl to anyone and look forward to seeing them again!

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Bryan Vorbach
February 16, 2022

Had a great day backcountry skiing/snowboarding with our guide John in the Little Cottonwood Canyon area near Salt Lake City, Utah. Snow is a little hard right now, even in the backcountry, but still had a great time and were able to find a few soft spots for good turns. If you are looking for a guide to do a day of backcountry touring in the SLC area, I would definitely recommend Red River Adventures.

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Walt Packer
February 9, 2022

Great experience. Good customer service.

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Stuarts Williamson
February 4, 2022

Great people, learned a ton, had fun, perfect course length!

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Evan Blanford
February 1, 2022

Red River adventures provided and excellent learning experience! Our guides, John and Garth, were a wealth of knowledge about the area, and did a fantastic job of communicating lessons to us. I would highly recommend this company (and these guides in particular) to anyone looking to further their education.

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Mark Hoffman
January 25, 2022

John and Garth were great guides for the AIARE 1 course. Super professional and thoughtful with their answers to all questions.

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James Pilkington
January 22, 2022

Today was the first time I did a backcountry tour. John provided me with an excellent education and I look forward to working with him on the future.

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David Shackelford
January 14, 2022

I recently took an Avy 1 course taught by John and Chris. The course was phenomenal and I'd highly recommend it. John and Chris were professional and excellent instructors. More than that, they made the lessons come to life by making applications to our local environment and the realities of ski touring (e.g., its more than just avalanche safety to consider). They also just made the whole experience fun and engaging. One thing to mention- we had a 3:1 ratio of students to instructors due to some COVID cancellations. I'd be willing to bet other companies would have cancelled because of the economics of a group of our size, but Red River went on as planned with 2 lead instructors. I cannot recommend this company enough!

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Spencer Gasiorowski
January 10, 2022

I took my AIARE 1 class through them and it was a great experience. Chris was super informative and responsive in the classroom and a master in the field. The weekend of field work reinforced the learning we had done prior and I feel more confident in my ability to navigate the backcountry.

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Marc Champagne
January 9, 2022

John was a fantastic guide. Skied some really cool terrain. Highly recommended

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Joshua Petit
December 21, 2021

excellent course and outstanding instructors. Both John and Hannah were on top of their game, were patient and gracious with information sharing, and made us feel confident in the field while building skills. Would highly recommend RRA for AIRE courses, and plan to use their services again in the future. Stay safe out there!

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Joseph Roth
December 20, 2021

Very pleased and satisfied with my decision to go with Red River Adventures to do my AIARE 1 avalanche course. The guides were super knowledgeable and helpful. Always felt informed and assisted in hands on course learning.

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Brenda Bf
December 16, 2021

Fun trip along with beautiful scenery. I broke my ankle the day before my rafting trip and was on crutches. Everyone was so helpful and accommodating to me.

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Ted Winkworth
December 11, 2021

I loved my AIRIE Level 1 Course with John and Garth. They were really in tune with the needs of the group and gave us all an experience that challenged us to be curious about the potential dangers in the backcountry. I feel more confident and, frankly, excited to go out and keep learning about the snowpack now that I’ve taken this course.

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Jason Smith
December 7, 2021

John was an awesome instructor and the course was very instructive and worthwhile.

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howard silverman
December 6, 2021

I took the AIARE 1 online education and fieldwork class through Red River this weekend (3 days). This was done “as a refresher” as I took this previously 8 years ago and I spend about 10 days a year Backcountry Skiing. The instructors (John and Chris) did an excellent job, I learned new skills, exposed some weaknesses and explored some new terrain. Great experience!!!

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David Gotsch
November 3, 2021

Awesome guides- very knowledgeable and safe. I had an incredible time!

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Ashley Gardner
October 15, 2021

By far our most favorite experience of the trip was canyoneering with Adam. He was so personable and had a great wealth of knowledge about the area. He kept us entertained and most importantly safe. We will be back for sure!

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Jesicah Rolapp
October 5, 2021

The guides and company were absolutely wonderful!!!! We came to Moab for a wedding and enjoyed river rafting and canyoneering - the guides were super helpful and knowledgeable. Will definitely use them again!

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Todd Harris
September 30, 2021

Nathan and Dan were fantastic. I took my teenage son and his friend on a canyoneering trip, and Nathan and Dan put them at ease during the long repels. They were ready to do it again! This was the second time we used Red River and they do a great job communicating during booking and pre trip to get you ready. Also, their website is easy to navigate and very accurate. This outfitter is highly recommended!

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Frini Shah
September 26, 2021

Had an amazing trek with my family including 3 boys ages 12-15 with Dan on the Bow and Arrow trail. Felt very safe in his experience and ability. Nice hike up followed by 4 amazing rappels down! Highly recommend!

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Kate Mattern
September 24, 2021

The hike & rapelling was spectacular! It was an awesome way to experience a day and this beautiful terrain. Kenzie was awesome. She was a great leader and tons of fun!

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Eric Failes
September 11, 2021

Had such a good time canyoneering with Red River Adventures! The guides were fun, professional, and had lots of interesting information about the area. Great time for all experience levels.

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James Cooper
September 11, 2021

Had a great half day trip climbing with them. Hunter was a great guide, knew a ton about the area and where we were going to climb. It was a nice relaxed environment but he still made sure safety was on the top of the list. Looking Glass Rock is a bit outside of town so it was super quiet, and the rappel down from the top was amazing.

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Lisa Nye
September 11, 2021

Great rafting trip! We loved the crew and the trip. Relaxing, fun and Colton, our guide was excellent! He was informative and a ball of fun!! So many fun memories made! Thank you!

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Traci Reeves
September 10, 2021

Best tour guide- Adam made the experience that much better!

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Hanyan Shen
September 9, 2021

We did bow and arrow canyoneering with red river. Adam is a great guide, on the trip you’ll see some dinosaur tracks, petroglyphs, four rappelling (one short, two medium and one long ~120 ft). Adam also introduced a lot of good food options in moab. If you go to quesadilla Mobile, tell Adam from red river sent you, you got 10% off (we tried it today, it’s legit).

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Bob McHenry
September 8, 2021

Went canyoneering with Dan as our guide. There were 7 people including a young girl and teenage boy. Dan did a great job instructing us on how to repel and made sure we all felt safe. It started with a fairly strenuous 30 minute hike up the mesa and then 4 repels down. Great time. Thanks Dan.

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Lisa Arnold
September 5, 2021

We had a great time on our canyoneering tour! Our tour guide, Dan, was excellent!

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Gil S
September 5, 2021

A wonderful first time canyoneering trip!! Our guide Nate was the perfect combination of fun, encouraging, safe, funny and laid back confident. He helped us get over our fear and nerves and made it seem easy. Great for first time repelling and canyoneering. It was a bit intense at times, but in a good way. I'm afraid of heights and it was putting me out of my comfort zone, but that's a good thing. But you do need a degree of fitness. This should not be your first physical activity if you've been on the couch for the last two years... A very professional organization and I would do any of their trips in a heartbeat!