Of all the outdoor activities in Banff, whitewater rafting is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and spectacular adventures you can undertake. The park offers several opportunities. I’ve listed them below.
Who hasn’t seen a movie with some spectacular shots of whitewater rafting in a fast-flowing river? Spectacular, sensational, exciting, even if you watch it on a screen. Imagine you’re in that raft yourself, pounding the rapids. Still sound like a great idea? Then read on, because I’ve got all the information you need in this article about rafting in Banff.
Where to Raft in Banff?
There are several companies in the park where you can book your rafting adventure. However, there is only one company that offers rafting within the park boundaries and that is Rocky Mountain Raft Tours.
This company runs scenic rafting trips on the Bow River, adjacent to the Fairmont Golf Course, which is conveniently located near the town of Banff. The other companies operate in Kananaskis on the Kananaskis River, on the Kicking Horse River in British Columbia (near Golden, just across the park boundary), and on the Bow River in Horseshoe Canyon near Seebe.
Which Place Is Best for Rafting?
The answer to that question is ‘it depends’. If you’re looking for a river rafting safari and float trips that are quiet and relaxing, the trips offered by Rocky Mountain Raft Tours will suffice. If you’re looking for adventurous trips down a river that will get your adrenaline pumping, you can book with Banff Adventures, Wild Water, Chinook Rafting, Hydra River Guides and Banff Tours.
Do You Need Rafting Experience?
No, you don’t. This activity often involves complete beginners, so don’t worry if you’ve never done it before. Basically, the only requirement is that you’re healthy and in relatively good shape, as rafting involves some physical activity. Most companies offer a range of rafting tours, from beginner to advanced; just find one that suits your ability.
How Dangerous Is Rafting?
Uh, yes, it can be, because there is a small risk of getting hurt. In other words, it’s not 100 percent safe. That doesn’t mean you should give up on a rafting adventure. The risk of actually getting hurt is minimal. In general, rafting is an exhilarating adventure that lets you feel the raw energy of the wilderness and provides you with lasting memories.
Rafting with Children
Yes, you can, but the rules for children vary from operator to operator. Also the minimum age, although babies are a no-go for every operator. The fact that mountain rivers are generally fast doesn’t necessarily mean that they are too difficult for children. The risk varies from river to river.
The weather also plays a role in determining whether it’s safe to take a child of a certain age. The same goes for the general characteristics of the river, which are unique to each river. The water level in the river is also a factor, as it varies with the season. In the spring, mountain rivers fill up with snowmelt, making rapids much more dangerous.
In short, always check with your operator before taking your child rafting.
Price of a Rafting Adventure
The answer to this question depends on the type of tour or package you want to book. Prices vary widely, but CAD 70 for a rafting trip with Banff Raft Tours is the cheapest option. However, this company also offers rafting safaris and more relaxing trips.The most affordable whitewater rafting trip starts at CAD 99.
Rafting with a Group in Banff
Rafting is an excellent activity for groups because rafts can accommodate several people. This makes it perfect for team building events and activities with peers. Tour companies offer various group packages. Check their websites for details (contact information is listed below).
Considering to ga rafting during your bachelor party? Check out my guide to bachelor and bachelorette parties in Banff to read about all the ins and outs.
Book a Rafting Adventure in Banff
There are several companies in Banff that offer rafting adventures. They all have different packages that are worth checking out. Below I’ve listed the outfitters in Banff National Park (4 in Banff, 1 in Lake Louise):
Address: 215 Banff Avenue, Sundance Mall, Banff
Phone: + 1 403 – 763 2007
Discover Banff Tours
Address: 215 Banff Avenue, Sundance Mall, Banff
Phone: +1 403 – 760 5007
Banff Raft Tours
Address: 1 Golf Course Road, Banff
Phone: +1 403 – 762 3632
Address: 111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise
Phone: +1 403 – 522 2211
What to Bring to Your Rafting Adventure?
You don’t need to bring your own equipment. The tour company will provide you with a wetsuit and paddle, so there is no need to worry. Just make sure you wear a swimsuit underneath and some sneakers or other light and comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting wet in.
It is also a good idea to bring towels, sunscreen and of course some dry clothes. If you book a trip with Banff Raft Tours, you don’t need to wear a wetsuit, but it’s still a good idea to bring a change of clothes.
What about Insurance When You Go Rafting?
If you have travel insurance, make sure your policy covers your rafting trip. There is such a thing as an international river rating, which will tell you how challenging the rapids of your destination river are.
These classes are:
- Class 1: Easy
- Class 2: Novice
- Class 3: Intermediate
- Class 4: Advanced
- Class 5: Expert
- Class 6: Extreme and Exploratory Rapids
It is possible that your insurer doesn’t cover rafting in certain classes (especially class 6). If you’re not sure whether your insurer will cover you during your rafting trip, you can buy a good rafting insurance at worldnomads.com.
Safety During Rafting
Of course, rafting is a risky activity. Your instructor will give you a thorough safety briefing on how to handle the raft, how to use your paddle, and what to do in the event of an emergency to ensure that your exciting rafting trip is fun and not dangerous.
Before you embark on your rafting trip, your tour operator will ask you to sign a waiver stating that you’re fit to participate and that the company is not responsible for any loss or damage.
Into rock climbing as well? Check out the post on rock climbing in Banff National Park I wrote.