Best Multi-Day Rafting Trips for First-timers

3 Min. Read
Rogue River rafting trip | Photo: James Kaiser

Perhaps you’ve done a one-day rafting trip and are looking to extend the excitement. Or, maybe you just want to disconnect for a few days and enjoy time in the wilderness with family or friends. Whatever your reason, here are our picks for the best multi-day rafting trips for first-timers.

1) Green River through the Gates of Lodore, Utah/Colorado

Best Multi-Day Rafting Trips for First-timers
Fun, splashy whitewater is just one of the highlights of Gates of Lodore trips. | Photo: Josh Miller

Recognized as one of North America’s most beautiful river canyons, this Southwest adventure promises picturesque scenery as you raft through scarlet slot canyons, gaping valleys and lush ledges of emerald evergreen in the heart of Dinosaur National Monument.  On a Green River rafting trip you’ll also have the chance to inflatable kayak through fun whitewater, hike along rippling creeks to side canyon waterfalls and hunt for petroglyphs in the canyon’s open-air archive of ancient Puebloan ruins. Trips details: 3, 4 or 5 days | May – September | Class III

2) Main Salmon “River of No Return,” Idaho

Four people playing horseshoes on a sandy beach along the Main Salmon River in Idaho.
Camps on the Main Salmon offer the perfect venue for beach games. | Photo: James Kaiser

Featuring miles upon miles of protected wilderness where little has changed since first appearing on the U.S. map, Idaho’s Main Salmon offers a rich river experience including free-flowing Class III whitewater that’s great for any age and experience level. This adventure also boasts big, sandy beaches perfect for camping and playing, beautiful mountain scenery, abundant wildlife and a natural hot spring. Trip details: 6 days | June – September | Class III

3) Colorado River through Cataract Canyon, Utah

A lone person stands along the the Colorado River with the walls of Cataract Canyon towering above them
Cataract Canyon rafting trips provide incredible access to remote areas of Canyonlands. | Photo: Mike Walton

The Grand Canyon’s stunning little sister shouldn’t be overlooked.  Rafting the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon has it all:  breathtaking scenery, easy floating, wild Class III-IV whitewater and massive sandy beaches. Remote hiking expeditions in the heart of Canyonlands National Park, slot canyons and waterfalls also add to the lure of this adventure.  Trip details: 4 or 6 days | April – October | Class III-IV (During high water in late spring/early summer Cataract Canyon is rated Class IV+)

4) Rogue River, Oregon

Multiple boats floating downstream on the Rogue River
The Rogue River is the perfect place to test your paddle skills in an inflatable kayak. | Photo: Justin Bailie

The Rogue River, with its fun rapids, beautiful pine-forested canyon scenery, abundant wildlife and unparalleled beach camping, is a popular trip among first-timers.  Add to that, inflatable kayak fun, hours of beach games, adventurous side hikes, warm water for swimming, and even a waterfall or two, and we think you’ve got the perfect vacation.  Trip details: 3, 4 or 5 days | May – September | Class III

5) Grand Canyon Rafting: Whitmore Wash to Pearce Ferry, Arizona

Yellow OARS rafts in lower section of Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon trips below Whitmore Wash explore the Lower Granite Gorge. | Photo: Logan Bockrath

On this Grand Canyon rafting trip you’ll explore 93 miles of the desert wonderland that makes up the Lower Canyon.  Complete with incredible beaches, beautiful side canyons and spring-fed streams this option is perfect for those who don’t have the time for a full Grand Canyon trip or just want to test the waters before signing on for the whole shebang. Plus, you’ll enjoy a stay at a working cattle ranch before you go and a scenic helicopter flight to the river. Trip details: 5 days | May – September | 5 rapids rated 5 or above on the Grand Canyon scale of 1 to 10

6) San Juan River, Utah

San Juan River Rafting, Utah
The San Juan River in southeastern Utah flows along the edge of Bears Ears National Monument. | Photo: Andrew Miller

On this diverse rafting trip you’ll twist and turn through a beautiful red rock labyrinth on easy whitewater, venture out on remote hikes, and explore the fascinating archaeological treasures that are hidden along the way like Native American cliff dwellings and well-preserved rock art. Got little ones?  The San Juan is also a fantastic first-time rafting trip for families with kids as young as four. Trip details: 3, 4 or 6 days | March – June | Class II

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