Is Whitewater Rafting Dangerous?

Whitewater rafting is the ultimate in fun adventure. But like all outdoor activities, these wet and wild river trips involve an element of inherent risk. For those booking a rafting trip, isn’t it great to know rafting is actually far safer than many other outdoor sports? In fact, the most common rafting injury is either a sunburn or something that happens on land, especially when getting into and out of a boat.

Nonetheless, the media loves to sensationalize adventure accidents, and whitewater rafting is no exception. But in reality, the chances of being a statistic are actually very small.

River Valley, a New Zealand-based outfitter, crunched US and New Zealand data and found that fatal injuries averaged 1 per year since the beginnings of the rafting industry. Another study that used distance traveled on a raft as its base unit of comparison estimated that it was up to 100 times more dangerous to travel in a car on any given distance than what it was to be on a raft.

The reality is, like any outdoor activity, whitewater rafting is never going to be 100% safe. However, there are a few simple things you can do to help keep yourself safe once you have decided to go rafting.

  • Choose a river appropriate for your physical fitness.
  • Be honest with yourself about your physical limitations.
  • Listen carefully to your guides. Do your best to follow their instructions.
  • Make sure you wear helmets and life jackets at all times while on the water.

Here at KODI Rafting, safety is our #1 priority with FUN a close second. As a KODI Rafting guest, your safety is by far our #1 concern. Training in a dynamic environment such as the river is crucial to who we are and the experiences we offer. Our training staff has over 50 years of combined experience that they have passed along to all of our river guides. KODI also incorporates Swiftwater Rescue training into our continuing guide education – which is something very few rafting outfitters are able to do. We have the privilege of offering these courses through Sawatch Rescue, owned and operated by one of our founding KODI Family members.

How Do You Want to Get Down the River?

It’s no secret. Those of us at KODI love spending time on the river. It’s why we do what we do after all. However, with so many different ways to get down the river, each one of us has a boat (or board) we prefer. With KODI, you can have the opportunity to experience several different methods for ripping the rapids or floating over smooth waves. Not sure what we mean? Check out the following list of different ways to get down the river. Then call us, and let us know what you’re interested in trying.

Paddle Boat

A paddle boat (raft) is propelled by paddles. That is to say, everyone on the boat—guide included—uses the same tool.

In a paddle boat, you have the opportunity to become a large part of the river rafting experience because it's up to you and your comrades to guide the boat in the right direction. Your guide is there to assist you, telling you when to paddle and steering from the rear, but you and the rest of the folks in the boat play a very important role in safely navigating the river.

Oar Boat

While everyone participates in a paddle boat, an oar boat is powered by a single person utilizing two 9-10-foot-long oars positioned off of either side of the boat, allowing passengers to relax, lay back, and enjoy the ride.

For slow, flat-water stretches, there is nothing more relaxing than riding along on an oar boat.


Duckies are the more popular name for inflatable sit-on-top kayaks. These boats are fairly stable, relatively easy to paddle, and lots of fun. Paddlers sit either cross-legged or with their legs outstretched on the inflated floor chamber while leaning against an inflatable backrest.

Whitewater Kayak

Whitewater kayaks are molded in a semi-rigid, high impact plastic, usually polyethylene. Careful construction ensures the boat remains structurally sound when subjected to fast-moving water.

Whitewater kayaks range from 4 to 10 feet. There are two types of whitewater kayaks: play boats and creek boats. Play boats are shorter for high maneuverability and are used for performing tricks. Creek boats are longer and are more often used for large rivers where their extra stability and speed may be necessary to get through rapids.

Stand Up Paddleboard

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii. Unlike traditional surfing where the rider sits until a wave comes, stand up paddleboarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves across a lake or down a river's rapids.

KODI's Tips for Rafting with Kids

Are you looking for a new way to experience the outdoors with your family? If you haven't tried whitewater rafting, what are you waiting for? Rafting is a great activity for adults and children of all ages.

If you want to ride the rapids with your kids, here are some of KODI’s top tips for making your family rafting adventure a great success.

Be Prepared

When going whitewater rafting with children, it’s up to the parent to make sure the child is educated on safety protocols and proper etiquette.

Talk to your child about what to expect. Kids have wild imaginations, and they may be envisioning a scary, big water trip, when in fact, you have a mellow float planned. The same can be said in reverse. If you expect to hit rapids, let your child know.

It’s also up to the parent to have everything a child may need to have a comfortable rafting experience, such as snacks, water bottles, a towel, a change of clothes, and sunscreen.

Pick the Right Trip

Most raft companies, like KODI, offer family-friendly trips that run on milder stretches of water. These floats may even be able to accommodate babies and toddlers, given how fast a river is currently running.

With babies and toddlers, a river section without rapids, or with very small Class I rapids and riffles, is ideal. Elementary-aged kids and older can probably handle Class II and III rapids. The important thing is that they will listen and follow directions and they know what to do if they are ejected from the raft and end up in the river.

Older kids might be ready for bigger rapids, so talk to your booking agent and ask them what is most appropriate.

Always Put Safety First

Everyone needs to wear a PFD when on the boat or playing in the river—even good swimmers. Kids under the age of six or seven should wear a PFD in camp, too. Take swimming lessons. The better the swimmer, the better they will handle a spill into the river.

Stay Warm

Cold water can be a risk even on warm days. Have dry clothes, towels, and rain jackets in a dry bag. Kids get cold quickly in a boat since they aren’t moving around much.

Want to book a Colorado raft trip for your family? Contact KODI Rafting today, we’ll help you choose the perfect trip for you and your kids.

Get to Know KODI's Raft Guides

We asked our raft guides a few fun questions so you would have a chance to know them a little better.

  1. Where was your first raft trip?
  2. What's your favorite river/rapid to paddle?
  3. What do you love most about being a raft guide?
  4. What do you do during the winter?
  5. Where's your favorite place to camp or play in Colorado?
  6. What was the biggest or most challenging river you've ever paddled?

Check out their answers below.

Mitch Hall

  1. My first-time rafting was day one of training with KODI two years ago.
  2. The numbers is still my favorite section of river. Every year I learn more about this technical section.
  3. The whitewater community is a tight-knit group that takes care of each other.
  4. In the winter I am a ski patroller at Eldora Mountain. I typically ski about seven days a week.
  5. Rocky Mountain National Park is my favorite place in Colorado. It's so big!
  6. The upper Gauley river is the hardest river I have ever been on. It's a tradition of mine every September.

Ben Darby

  1. Royal Gorge
  2. Tunnel Shoot on the middle fork of the American
  3. Being in Nature
  4. Plow Snow
  5. Buena Vista
  6. Yuba class 5 in California

Jay Chambers

  1. 1989 in Colorado on the way to Philmont Scout Ranch for a two-week backpacking trip, we stopped in Buena Vista and rafted Browns Canyon
  2. Being out on the water, enjoying the outdoors and introducing new people to the experience.
  3. Ski and snowboard instructor at Beaver Creek.
  4. Anywhere, really. We live in an amazingly beautiful part of the country.
  5. A tossup between the Grand Canyon and the Tully River in Queensland, Australia during flood season.

Dani Daugherty

  1. The Lehigh River in the Poconos in Pennsylvania (pretty mild comparing to what I do now lol)
  2.  The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon
  3. Sharing with other people my love for the place I live in and the things I love to do on a daily basis
  4. Coach /teach snowboarding around Summit County & run an online CBD Oil Business
  5. Buena Vista, Colorado :)
  6.  The Upper Gauley in West Virginia

Above Average Snowpack = Extreme Whitewater

The 2018/2019 ski season has been fantastic as snow has fallen continuously since November. Now, as spring approaches, it's time for us to celebrate because all this snow means monumental water on Colorado's rivers.

The state's snowpack currently measures 110% of normal. There's even more snowpack in the Arkansas River Basin where KODI runs a large portion of its trips, most notably our Brown Canyon rafting trips. In fact, the Arkansas River's flows are at 127% of normal!

This means it's going to be a big year for KODI. And if spring continues to deliver stellar snowfalls, we might go so far as to suggest the 2019 rafting season is going to be epic.

Don't miss out on this year's exciting water flows. Book at KODI Rafting trip today!

Five Reasons to Book an Overnight Rafting Trip

Multi-day raft trips that include camping alongside a river are awesome because they allow for time to unwind and savor life, friends, and mother nature.

But these benefits are simply the beginning. Overnight raft trips offer so much more.

There is no need for money—or decisions

When was the last time you went on a trip WITHOUT your wallet? Imagine how liberating it must feel to know you’ll be taken care of the whole time. It’s kind of like being a kid again.

Camp in extreme comfort

We get it. Camping’s not for everyone. But when you camp overnight with KODI, we put the glam in glamping. After a great day on the river, imagine enjoying a cold drink by the campfire while your guides prepare a delicious multi-course meal.

Really see the stars for the very first time

Unless you’ve camped in the backcountry before, we promise you’ve never seen the stars the way you’ll see them on an overnight raft trip. This delightful and inspiring experience only happens in true remote wilderness, like camping riverside.

Access the backcountry without breaking your back

You can strap a 50-pound pack on your back and hike for days to reach true wilderness, or you can strap on a lifejacket and hop on a raft. From you campsite, you’ll have plenty of time to hike and explore side canyons, waterfalls, historic sites, and scenic overlooks.

Ditch Technology

These days, this might be the most valuable aspect of an overnight raft trip. Finally, you can be completely unplugged. No cell phones, tablets, computers, or anything else that has a cord or requires a signal. This means exactly what you think it means… a true vacation.

The Ins and Outs of Becoming a Raft Guide

You’ve fallen in the love with the river. You've floated, you've jumped in, and you've swum. The river, you feel, is where you belong and where you find peace. So, maybe it's time to consider becoming a raft guide.

Before you commit, take a guided trip (or two) and get to know your guide. Ask him or her about the lifestyle and try to get a feel if this is something you really want to do. If you like the company you rafted with, ask the guide how you can work there next summer and take home an application.

The application process and the interview tend to be the easiest part. Show your enthusiasm and you might get hired. But, that’s just the beginning. Next comes training.

If you do get hired, it's always a good idea to be in your top shape before the training course and the season begins. The rowing machine at the gym is going to be your best bet because that's what you'll be doing... all summer long. Great raft guides have high energy and stamina and starting the season strong really helps with this.

Most tour companies run their own training programs. These can change season to season. But generally, you can expect several weeks of intense, physical activity, water safety instruction, and more. This can also be viewed as a try-out for newbies as it really gives a sense of a raft guide's expectations and what life on the river is all about.

While training for a whitewater rafting job is tough, it’s also rewarding. Train with KODI Rafting and meet new friends who also love living and working outside.

Our professional raft guide training program begins mid-May and lasts 10 days. It’s a great way to experience and learn more about the river in an individualized, student-teacher setting. You’ll get daily, intensive instruction in guiding oar and paddle rafts with hands-on practice in a supportive environment.

We’ll invest in you if you dedicate the time and energy to invest in developing your skills with us. Our whitewater jobs training program is not for everyone, but it may just be the most rewarding summer job you’ll ever have!

Apply to be a raft guide today!


KODI’s Rivers: An Overview

Arkansas River

The Arkansas River starts as a patch of melting snow in Leadville, Colorado, a city rich in mining history and famous for its 10,200-foot elevation. The Ark (as locals like to call it) gains momentum as it flows past some of the biggest mountains in Colorado, benefiting from their abundant snow melt in the spring and summer. From its headwaters, the Arkansas River deliver more than 100 miles of whitewater, making it the most popular river for rafting in the American West. The river’s appeal lies in its wide variety of trips and easy accessibility.

Arkansas River Raft Trips

Blue River

The Blue River is roughly 65 miles long and is a tributary of the mighty Colorado River. Flowing from the Dillon Reservoir Dam just above the town of Silverthorne to the confluence with the Colorado River at Kremmling, the Blue River is easily a candidate for Colorado's most scenic river. Lined by cottonwood trees and crowned by the rugged Gore Mountains, the Blue River winds a scenic course through ranch land, and its public access points are popular among anglers and kayakers alike.

Blue River Raft Trip

Clear Creek

Clear Creek is a tributary of the South Platte River that flows through Clear Creek Canyon in the Rocky Mountains directly west of Denver. It descends through a long gorge to emerge on the Colorado Eastern Plains where it joins the South Platte. Clear Creek is unusual in that it is a stream named "creek" fed by a stream named "river."

Clear Creek Raft Trips

The Upper Colorado River

The Upper Colorado River Basin, defined by the river network above northern Arizona, is comprised of four states—Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. These states contribute to the vast majority of the water coming into the Colorado River Basin, primarily through winter snowpack.

Colorado, specifically, is known as the Headwater State because it’s home to the headwaters of four major rivers: Platte, Arkansas, Rio Grande, and Colorado. The Colorado River flows west out of the slopes of Rocky Mountain National Park and connects to several tributaries, including the Animas, Eagle, Dolores, Yampa, Blue, and Roaring Fork Rivers.

Upper Colorado River Trips

Ten Mile Creek

Ten Mile Creek is a stream in Summit County. It rises above Copper Mountain Ski Resort and follows next to Interstate 70 for several miles before emptying into Dillon Reservoir. The creek and the paved trail that follows alongside it are easily visible from Interstate 70 between Frisco and Copper Mountain Ski Area.

Ten Mile Creek River Trip

Dolores River

A long and winding river in southwestern Colorado, the Dolores flows through canyons packed with enormous ponderosa pine and high sandstone cliffs in brilliant oranges and reds. The river continues its journey from the alpine scenery into the high desert and through canyons dotted with amazing white water, ancient ruins, and untamed wilderness.

Dolores River Raft Trip

The KODI Team Attends Gauley Fest

After a full and busy season, our staff kicked back and headed to West Virginia for Gauley Fest, a rowdy weekend of whitewater fun!

Gauley Fest began in 1983 as a celebration of the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have stolen one of the whitewater community’s most precious resources. Today, it remains the American Whitewater Association’s largest fundraising effort.

Although its roots were planted in a noble cause, the internationally renowned Gauley Fest is now mostly regarded for its party-hard nature. But at its heart, it’s still a celebration of not just the Gauley River, but rivers everywhere. And it’s one hell of a good time.

Three Tips for Finding a Trusted Rafting Outfitter

If you’re planning your first river trip, you want to make sure you choose a rafting outfitter that’s going to make your experience on the river as incredible as it can be. Several factors comprise great river trips. From safety to fun and everything in between, each of those factors should be considered when choosing a rafting outfitter.

We know, considering all of these factors makes the choice sound intimidating. Top it off with the fact Colorado has dozens of raft companies to choose from, and the job borders on overwhelming. However, if you follow our advice, you’re sure to find the rafting company that’s right for you.

While planning, we think everybody should pay attention to these three major details about the river rafting company you intend to book your trip with.

A Spotless Safety Record

The dangers of whitewater are no joke, so you want a river outfitter that has an excellent safety record. It should have the right safety equipment and offer straightforward, easy to understand safety demonstrations that will keep you safe.

Personable Guides

Establishing rapport with people starts with good conversation. Your guide should have the patience to chat with his or her guests as well as be able to talk comfortably about the surrounding wildlife and river history. In return, Your guide will be able to evaluate the comfort level of everyone in the boat before "testing the waters" so to speak. Do you prefer to hit the fun splashy stuff or stay as dry as possible? Either way, a personable guide will make or break your river trip.

Variety of Trips

There is no universal trip right for everybody. Make sure you inform the rafting company about the age, physical condition and swimming ability of each member of your group.

A good river outfitter has a variety of trips to choose from and informed staff who help you find the perfect whitewater rafting trip for you!

Go online for a sense of these factors. When you've narrowed down your options, give them a call and get more details. Ask yourself, are they friendly, do they answer all your questions, are they pushy or don’t seem like they have the time to answer all your questions?  You can get a great feel for the company by their reservation staff, as it usually will translate into the guide staff on the river.