How are rivers classified?

The difficulty of a river is classified on a scale from I to VI with I being very easy and VI unrunnable. We have classified the rivers based on normal moderate water flows, but during times of high water, river difficulty levels can increase. We recommend a Class II-III river for beginning rafters and a Class III-IV river for experienced rafters looking for more action.
International Scale of Whitewater I - VI:

  • Class I - Moving Water
  • Class II - Splashes
  • Class III - Wet and Fun
  • Class IV - Big Drops
  • Class V - Violent Rapids
  • Class VI - Unrunnable

What type of whitewater raft do I ride in?

On most Class III and IV rivers, self-bailing paddle rafts are  used for maximum fun and excitement. Each of the passengers has a paddle to help power and maneuver the raft while the guide steers and directs the crew. Paddle rafts generally hold 3-6 passengers; Some of our rafts hold families of up to 8 people. If you prefer to ride in an oar boar with minimal paddling, we can arrange one on request.

Who can go whitewater rafting?

Generally, just about anyone in reasonable health and fitness can go rafting. The minimum age for our trips is 7 yrs. There is no maximum age, although anyone over 60 should be in good health and perhaps consult with their physician if they have any concerns. If you are pregnant, extremely overweight or have back or heart problems, we do not suggest a raft trip.

Will I get wet?

On the Salt River and in Pagosa Springs, the short answer is YES! Also consider the season. If you raft when the snow is rapidly melting and the water is higher, you will get wetter than you will later in the season. If it rains, you get more water for your money ... and the rainwater is warmer than the river water! If you prefer to stay drier, we recommend float trips on the San Juan and Chama rivers.


How cold is the water?

This is dependent on the river and the season. The Salt River and Pagosa Springs outposts rely on snow melt. This means that in the early season the water is pretty cold (45-50). Later in the season, the water does warm up to about 55-60. The Rio Chama is located at the base of El Vado Dam and is always cold. The San Juan in Utah on the other had is often muddy and warm from crossing the desert. Check the trip details on our chosen river for seasonal air and water temperatures. Splash jackets are provided on all of our trips. Wetsuits are recommended early to mid-season on mild trips and are provided by Canyon Rio when needed.

Do I have to know how to swim?

You do not have to know how to swim to go rafting. Personal floatation devices are worn at all times on the river and are designed to keep you floating face up. The guides will instruct you before the trip on what to do in the event that you take a "swim" in the river. There is always the possibility of a swim, and this possibility increases on more adventurous trips. Although it is not required that you have swimming skills, we recommend that you do not have a fear of the water.

Do I have to paddle?

There are different types of raft boats used for different situations. Most trips take paddle boats, which DO require participants to paddle. No experience is necessary; your guide will teach you how to paddle in your pre-trip instructional and safety orientation. Our framed boats allow the guide to use a pair of oars to control and move the raft. Often, customers paddle along with the guide according to his or her commands, but participants may opt to simply sit back and enjoy the scenery. If you prefer an Oar Raft, simply let us know when you make your reservation and we will accommodate your preference.


What do I need to bring?

You will receive a checklist when you make a reservation. Basically, for overnight trips, you will need a tent, sleeping bag, foam pad or mattress and your personal clothing and toiletries. We provide a wet suit during spring trips when the water is cold and the weather more unpredictable.


Can I bring a camera or video camera?

We suggest bringing only waterproof, disposable cameras, unless you have a waterproof case for your camera or video camera. There is no guarantee that your equipment will not get wet.

How do I get back to my car?

We provide transportation in quality, well-maintained vehicles back to the meeting place at no extra charge on all of our trips.

Are discounts available?

Out with the guys? Looking for a ladies getaway? Figuring out a fun day for your family? A river trip is the perfect activity for a group! Call us at1-800-2-PADDLE to discuss what kind of discount we can give your group. Special rates are also available for children under 14, seniors, military and larger groups.


When should I make my reservation?

Certain days during the season sell out quickly, so we encourage you to call our Flagstaff office to ask about availability (1-800-2-PADDLE). While reservations are required in advance, we are always busy taking "last minute" bookings. As long as there is space available we will be happy to get you on the river -- even if you don't call until the night before!


How do I make a reservation?

You can reserve space over the phone or via email! Contact us by email or phone any time at info@canyonrio.com or 1-800-2-PADDLE.


Can I request a particular guide?

Our guides are professionals in their field, and requests for a specific guide are not uncommon. If you have had a guide you especially liked and would like to have them guide your next trip, we will do our best to match their schedule to yours. Simply request your guide when you make your reservation.

Should I tip my guide?

Your river guide works very hard to ensure a fun and safe trip for you and your family or friends. Although tips are in no way required, you may thank your guide in whatever way you see fit, including a tip.


I still have more questions!

If you have any other questions, simply email us or call Canyon Rio Rafting at 1-800-2-PADDLEand we will be happy to answer them.