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Whitewater Raft Trips:

For the 'River Wild' Family
By Ann Beman - October 8th, 2001

I marvel at some people's ability to plan far in advance. I remember what it was like for my parents to get our entire family together for a summer trip. We went nowhere on a whim: How about this date? Nope, this brother's in-laws were going to be in town then. How about that date? Nah, I was doing a campout/training weekend with the cross-country team that week. Next!

Planning a Trip
On a certain river sports bulletin board I moderate, the following plea made me realize that planning ahead for a whitewater rafting adventure isn't such a wacky concept. "I am in need of a whitewater rafting trip suitable for a 41-year-old mother who acts 25, two athletic 12-year-old twin girls, and a husband who doesn't swim. We are planning our first camping trip for summer '98 to Colorado and surrounding areas. I have extensive camping experience. My husband is similar to the dad on "River Wild." Any suggestions for trips at lower levels that might fit our needs?"

"The River Wild," eh? Kevin Bacon was mean in that flick, wasn't he? I can't guarantee there won't be any Kevin Bacons on the trip. After all, he is separated by only a few degrees from everyone on this planet. Never mind that. I can at least point you toward some friendly outfitters.

First: If your husband wears glasses like the dad in the movie, equip him with some eyeglass retainers such as Croakies or Chums. You and the twins are good to go.

Second: Here's what some paddlers from newsgroup rec.boats.paddle said. "There are several rivers with good rafting in Colorado, but you won't find any that require multiday expeditions. There are, however, some like the Arkansas near Buena Vista that have enough river miles to comprise a number of days of one-day trips. You should enjoy this kind of rafting. Camping is available throughout Colorado, especially near the rivers."

Outfitters and Guides
"Check out the Web site for the trade association for professional outfitters and guides, many of whom operate in Colorado: http://www.americaoutdoors.org. You can order a copy of the Outfitter Directory and Vacation Guide on-line from that site, or connect directly with the Web pages of a number of Colorado outfitters who will also send their brochures."

Along with the above advice, I got flamed to a crisp by a guy who was very familiar with "The River Wild." He reminded me that the dad in the movie seemed like an incapable boob at first, but then proved what he was really made of later. Perhaps that's why you dig your husband.

Anyway, I have a few more suggestions: Get your non-swimmer in a nice warm pool this winter and spring. And finally, how about rafting and learning to kayak? There are a number of Colorado outfitters who offer rafting and/or inflatable kayak trips on some fairly friendly water. Some even offer whitewater kayak instruction. As the rec.boats.paddle responder recommends, peruse the America Outdoors Directory, which has a searchable database. In my search for Colorado outfitters who provide rafting trips and teach whitewater kayaking as well, I came up with several possibilities. I recommend inquiring about rafting and kayaking at the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, 10281 Hwy 50, Howard, CO 81233; 800/255-5784; http://www.rmoc.com. A good retail store that also offers kayak instruction is Four Corners River Sports, P.O. Box 379, Durango, CO 81302; 800/426-7637. Just remember that outfitters don't plan their schedules until they have a better idea of what their season will be like. But they should be able to give you an idea of how their program generally works. Happy planning!


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