If you’re looking for adventurous activities in the Canadian Rockies that don’t involve walking, second to Horseback Riding my most highly recommended thing to do would be to try whitewater rafting.
On a recent trip to the mountains I rafted down the Kicking Horse River with Wild Water Adventures. Their river base is located near Field, BC in the Yoho National Park of the Rocky Mountains, about a 40 minute drive from Banff, AB.
Wild Water has a selection of day trips available to accommodate your personal level of daring: with everything from milder floats to raging rapids. If you’ve got younger kids, the Gentle trip would offer some decent thrills without giving them nightmares. However, if you’re looking for real fun and adventure I would definitely go for one of the more challenging trips. Even if you’ve never rafted before, the staff provides excellent guidance and a high level of safety.
We decided on the Tradition trip, which is an almost full day excursion that consists of a gentle upper portion followed by an exciting second half of class IV+ rapids. The first half gives you a chance to get used to the raft and the guides provide some important instruction on how to paddle and hang-on in the rapids. Then you get a chance to test all that when you hit the real fun stuff.
Although it’s a little on the pricey side at $140 per person, it gets my biggest recommendation for money well spent.
You will definitely get wet and as you approach each rapid you get an awesome adrenaline rush. No one on our trip went overboard, but in the unlikely event Wildwater has a safety boat that follows the group. I felt very safe throughout.
Make sure you get a chance to ride in both the front and back of the raft. The front is where you will do some hard paddling and enjoy some refreshing splashes; in the back of the raft you get to really feel the ups and downs as you go over the waves.
After the trip I was starving from all that stimulating (read: cold) water and hard work. The staff buses you back to the base camp and has a barbeque lunch waiting along with homemade salads and fresh baked cookies. The food is high quality and very tasty, especially when you compare this to other group excursions I’ve been on.
What to bring: Nothing, it’ll just get wet!
Seriously though, Wild Water sets you up with all the gear. If you want, you could bring a waterproof camera, just make sure it’s well attached. They do take some pictures on the trip that you can purchase afterwards and you can even rent a Go Pro video camera! (I opted not to buy the pics, hence the lack of photos in this review.)
Wild Water does a great job of making it easy for you to enjoy yourself. They provide all the gear you need from neon purple 80’s fleece jackets to keep you warm to the wetsuits, gloves, and lifejackets. Everything is run professionally and efficiently and more importantly everyone of the staff seems to have a great time too!
Afterwards, I recommend soaking in the hot springs at Radium or Banff. As much fun as Wild Water is, warm water is really nice too.
Have you been rafting with Wild Water or another company? I’d love to hear your experiences and stories in the comments below to help me plan my next trip.