Colorado is known for our outdoor activities, and river rafting is one of our most popular activities. Luckily, the river float through the Grand Junction area is rather mild. However, that does not mean that it isn’t dangerous. If you’re planning on floating the river in Grand Junction area this summer, here are some basic river safety tips to keep in mind.

1. Paddle in a group, when possible

If there is more than one boat/tube (there better be more than one tube!) than doing your best to stay together at all times. It’s hard to rescue someone you don’t know is in trouble. As a group, you can all look out for one another better.

2. Make sure someone else knows about your trip

Inform someone that is not going on the river trip of your trip, where you’re going, when you’re leaving, and when you expect to return. This is so that in case there is a problem, and you don’t return, they can notify emergency personnel of your whereabouts and how long you’ve been gone.

3. Make sure you know how to control your vehicle

If you haven’t had training on how to row/paddle your boat/raft properly, make sure you get some training before you go on the river, or bring someone who does know what they are doing. Even though the river is pretty mild here, the river is always changing, there could be a fallen tree or obstacle that you need to maneuver around, without any warning.

4. Know your route

Ask your guide, or call one of the local rafting companies and ask about river conditions for your route. Ask about any possible strainers (fallen trees, rocks, bridge pilings, etc) that have emerged on the route. **STRAINERS ARE DEADLY! SO ASK ABOUT THEM**

5. Check river and weather conditions before you leave

Call a local rafting company (Rimrock Adventures is always on top of things) and ask about the current speed of the river, ask about rocks and eddies. Also, make sure you research the weather for the day and dress appropriately.

6. Wear life vests and necessary protective gear

This is such a simple, but super important safety practice, wear your life vest! I know that it’s easy to think that you don’t need to because the river is so mild here. However, the river is a huge, powerful force of nature, and it is highly unpredictable. Always, always, did I mention always, always wear your life vest? It is also a great idea to purchase a pair of water socks (they are cheap at Walmart or Target) to protect your feet from rocks, in case you fall out of the raft or the raft capsizes.

7. Protect your valuables

You’ll be leaving your vehicle behind (and one at your destination) so make sure you lock up and keep your valuables hidden. Nothing worse than getting to your destination and finding your valuables (or vehicle) has been stolen.

8. Stay sober

I get it, we all get it, it’s fun to consume mind altering substances while you’re floating the river. However, the safest practice is to stay completely sober while on the river. Again, I know that the river here in town is pretty mild, but the river is unpredictable and you need to be able to make split second decisions.

9. Carry basic first aid

You can buy a small, waterproof first aid kit, that fits into a backpack (or waterproof bag) at any outdoors store (or even Walmart or Target). This is just to make sure if anyone is injured, bitten, etc, that you have the necessary tools to help them. Nothing worse than being stuck in the middle of nowhere, and not have the emergency tools necessary to help someone. Also, don’t be stupid, bring sunscreen and bug spray.

10. Bring water

This one is huge, and believe it or not, it’s often a problem. Bring enough water for everyone. In fact, bring more than enough for everyone! Stay hydrated. Plus, having extra water can buy you some extra time in the event that you are stranded on the river for longer than you intended.

Floating the river should be fun, just don’t be stupid. Plan ahead, and always call an experienced river guide company, ask them if there is anything you need to be aware of. Have a fun, river-filled summer Grand Junction!