You should do it at least once in your life: Barrel down a swollen river in a rubber raft, splash through wild whitewater, and narrowly avoid boulders to just barely make it out the other side intact. There’s something intoxicating about adrenaline, and whitewater rafting is one of the best ways to get the rush.
According to American Whitewater Expeditions, which guides rafting trips on California’s American River, the time to raft, for those seeking the most action, is when the spring runoff is at its peak. The water will be running fast, high, and exciting.
Of course, rafting isn’t just about thrills, and you don’t have to be a daredevil to have fun. Most often it’s set within breathtaking sceneries, whitewater is interrupted with smooth, calm stretches of river and everyday concerns drift away. Commuter traffic becomes a distant memory; the frenetic energy of the workweek vanishes. It’s a chance to recharge, and feel at peace, where the demands of everyday life just can’t reach you. When the rapids come along, expect not only a rush but also a challenge to your strength and endurance. Paddling around boulders through a roaring river - while remaining inside the boat - is a full body workout.
You don’t need much, but you will need to bring with you a desire to break free of the monotonous norm, perhaps some pent-up stress to shed and an eagerness to work muscles you didn’t realize were part of the human body. Of course, you’ll also need a bathing suit, some river shoes or sandals, and sunscreen, but your outfitter will provide the rest.
Rafting trips come in all shapes and sizes, from half-day runs to literally month-long excursions like those that tackle the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. It just comes down to this: How much fun do you want to have, and how long do you want it to last?