Having a really cool, clean comfortable cabin to curl up with your clan is a must.
Okay, okay. This post is about the river, not the Cabins rentals. (Biased? Me biased?)
I have my PHD in rivertrip-ology. Really. I guided trips for a living/lifestyle for many years on many rivers in several countries. Rafting was very very good to me. I still occasionally take my family out for a New River Family rafting adventure (they’re still too young to drive or they would take themselves).
WE love taking first timers. This is how we like to go about a day on the river:
First and foremost is safety. Gear is checked. The kids deliver the safety talk to newbies, and if there aren’t any new bees, they give it to each other and us. It’s a ritual that takes place before each trip. Commercial or private.
Then we’re off, or, y’know, on, depending on how you look at it. You shove off but are on the river, anyway.
I really believe that everyone should start out with a mellow float trip first. Relaxing into it, getting a feel for the way the raft moves on the current. Becoming comfortable with the vocabulary, the pace, the fun. Feel your paddle move the raft. The buck and the dip as you slip down a wave train into a rapid, the tug of an eddyline as you pull into shore for a break, eating in your lap while sitting on a rock, swimming (floating) in your lifejacket- that’s a PFD (personal floatation device) for you professionals out there, standing up in the raft and not worrying you’re going to fall out.
After a while you’ll feel comfortable enough to enjoy the views. All these things make it easier to enjoy the big stuff when you get there, if you ever get there. We rarely get there anymore. Not just because we have kids that are just getting to the point they are big enough to self rescue, but it’s less stressful and more fun on the easy stuff.
Don’t get me wrong. You can still get in a whole lot of trouble on the easy stuff that’s why we do the safety talk every time.
The industry has taken its cue from the guests and shortened trips to maximize the thrill factor. For my money and yours, you should take the time to start slow and easy. Get warmed up with a day on the Upper New. Then, if the kids are excited and really ready, meaning you don’t have to talk them into it, go for the Lower New.
But take a day’s rest in between. Don’t over schedule your activities plan in some downtime.
Here is the itinerary I would book for my family knowing what I know now.
Pull into The Gorge area before dark and go to the bridge over look check out the NPS visitor center. Get a feel for the area our history and culture. It’s well worth it. Then, go check in at the cabin, cook something on the grill, and soak off the day in the hot tub.
Day 1: Book the earliest trip you can get on the Upper New. Enjoy the day with your family. Swim, laugh, and relax. Take in the views.
Day 2: Back on dry land. Take a hike go out to eat. Rest up with a book or movie in the cabin. If you’re feeling adventurous, go rappel with New River Mount Guides or canopy tour (there are several in the area).
Day 3: Dinner trip. It’s not much more money, so just do it. It’s not the food that makes it worthwhile; it’s the fact that you’re on the water after everyone else has taken off. You have the place to yourselves, mostly. Definitely the right time to be on the water.
Day 4: Head home. Sure, there’s a lot more great stuff to do that could keep you busy all week, but this is a blog about the raft trip. The best white water vacation ever. And know going in that that’s impossible to obtain even in a month. I had the best raft trip ever, and it took me years to accomplish it.
Have questions? Let me know in the comments. See you on the river!