Whitewater rafting: adventures for families with kids

by Kim on April 4, 2012 · 5 comments

Kim’s note: This is a guest post by our friend Will Volpert, owner of Indigo Creek Outfitters, a whitewater rafting company in Ashland, Oregon.  

Last year, Kim published my guest post about Indigo Creek Outfitters, an Ashland-based whitewater rafting company I started in 2011. We had a successful first year and, now that spring is about to roll around, we’re ramping up for year two. With temperatures on the rise, I’ve had rivers on my mind recently, and thought it was an appropriate time to write an article I’ve been thinking about for the past month.

So Many Rivers: Adventure Vacations for Families with Kids

Traveling with a young family can be a daunting task. Well, maybe not quite as daunting as what Kim and Brian are embarking on (families with kids don’t typically sell their home, leave jobs, and wave goodbye to their hometown to travel the world).  Nevertheless, finding a vacation that is suitable and fun for the entire family – both kids and parents – can present a challenge.

As a kid, I grew up on rivers with my family, and am biased to choose a river vacation as the best family vacation option for 100% of the population. Sure, rafting, camping, and generally spending time outside may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for a vacation that will provide your family with a lifetime of memories, allow you to access incredible wilderness areas, and – quite frankly – make your kids think you’re the coolest parent on earth, a river vacation can’t be beat.

The question is: where? Am I talking about loading up your car and heading towards your city’s nearest irrigation ditch? Absolutely not. Every river is different and, although most are “fun” for the entire family, only a few are downright ridiculously cool trips that both you and your kids will never forget.

Idaho’s Main Salmon River

Roller-coaster rapids, huge sandy beaches, and a river canyon teeming with Native American and “Old West” history all help to make the Main Salmon the top pick for an adventurous family vacation. Highlights: lots of wildlife (otter, mountain goats, moose, and eagles), hot temperatures and lots of water to cool off in, amazing sunsets, and comfortable camping with healthy and plentiful meals. Go with: Idaho River Journeys1-888-997-8399.

Rafting on the Main Salmon River

Oregon’s Rogue River

Your kids smile may be permanent after kayaking one of the Rogue’s rapids for the first time. And yours will be too, when looking back at a vacation on the famous Rogue River. The Rogue River canyon is unmatched in beauty. Many trips feature two nights of camping followed by a final night at “Paradise Lodge” – a historical property with cabins next to a large lodge and deck overlooking the river. Highlights: inflatable kayaking (suitable for kids, too), side hikes, and famous rapids like Rainie Falls, Mule Creek Canyon, and Blossom Bar. Go with: Rogue River Journeys1-866-213-7754.

Enjoying Oregon’s Rogue River

California’s Lower Kern River

The Kern River is the closest rafting to most major cities in Southern California. The section known as the “Lower Kern” comes out of Lake Isabella and features the best class III and IV rapids in all of California. Camping on the Lower Kern is different from the rivers mentioned above because outfitters are given permanent campsites during the summer. This allows for sleeping decks, huge mattresses, and fancy riverside kitchens that bring out the best of every river chef. Go with: Kern River Outfitters1-800-323-4234.

Rafting California’s Lower Kern River

About the author: Will Volpert owns Indigo Creek Outfitters, a whitewater rafting company based out of Ashland, Oregon that specializes in half-day trips on the Rogue River. He grew up in a family of outfitters and got to experience many of the west’s best whitewater rivers at a young age. His two younger brothers, Matt and Skip, are guides on the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Main Salmon rivers.