5 Rafting Trips to do with your Kids NOW!!

Today we are thrilled to have James from the National Parks Foundation guest posting here on one of our favorite topics – RAFTING!!  The National Parks Foundation is a fantastic organization geared towards enriching our National Parks.  Pretty cool, eh?  Be sure to check them out here and leave James some love in the comments!  

NPS Photo / Gary Hartley

Summer is often the choice time to spend days hiking woodland trails and curl up for nights below long starry skies camping in the national parks. As we inch ever closer towards autumn, many families are considering their options for a last summer vacation children head back to school. The national parks system offers a variety of intriguing options for cooling off on hot summer days through majestic and wondrous rafting trips on the most stunning rivers in the United States. Here are five national parks that offer rafting excursions that encourage cooperation while multiplying the excitement.

Yellowstone National Park has many options for families new to rafting and has several daily trip options that are safe for all ages. Trips can vary from two to several hours and generally span between five and twenty miles of the Yellowstone River. The ideal river for beginners, there are areas along the rafting routes that are safe for swimmers to disembark and swim.

Denali National Park is another family-friendly option for those with little rafting experience. Rafting the Nenana River at Denali, families can expect to see moose, caribou, and possibly even bears. Several areas are appropriate for rafting by families with younger children or those with minimal or no rafting experience. Offering a scenic trip through pristine northern woodland, the Nenana River is an opportunity to travel lands that have changed little since first explored hundreds of years ago.

For families with some rafting experience, the Elwha River in Olympic National Park offers a more challenging rafting adventure with unpredictable snow melt flows. Rafting is generally only offered in July and August for safety reasons. The Elwha will offer families that are seeking a more thrilling white-water adventure a taste of excitement with a challenging channel that require vigilance to avoid hazards. Children should be ten years of age or older before disembarking on the Elwha.

Another great option for families with older children is the mesmerizing Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park. Picking up speed due to the Green River, this area of the Colorado River offers white-water excitement through a 100-mile canyon. Home to Native American ruins, Canyonlands National Park is ripe for exploration and discovery. An impressive rafting trip for families with children over the age of ten, the Colorado River offers a wild twist of floating fun.

Finally, New River Gorge National River in South West Virginia in the destination of a lifetime for experienced rafters. Families with teenagers will be stunned at the excitement and wonder that rafting the Lower Gorge will bring out in adolescents. A powerful and hazardous route, the Lower Gorge should only be attempted by those with significant rafting experience and only with older children, preferably fifteen and above.

Children should be experienced swimmers. Mesmerizing and imposing, white-water rafting offers an unforgettable summer experience.

Thanks James!  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s now dreaming of these trips…


  • Great blog and some excellent places to take kids rafting. Another excellent place to take kids rafting is in Dinosaur National Monument. The Green River and Yampa River are awesome for families of all ages and abilities. When the water is high you will want to take caution on bringing younger kids, under 10. A reputable outfitter will be honest with you on the water flows and if young children should go on either trip or not. I would recomend at least a four day trip on either section of the Green or Yampa River.

    • bringthekids says:

      Oh that sounds amazing! I took the kids out to Dinosaur this summer and got even more excited to take a trip out there soon. With Desolation and Ruby/Horsethief just wrapping up the year for us, we’ll surely be out there soon! Somehow we just can’t get enough of that canyon country rafting!

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