The first time I went whitewater rafting, it was 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I had the time of my life. Even though early-season trips can be on the chillier side, the unique scenery and multitude of rivers to raft in the spring are worth braving the potentially cold weather. On rivers like the Klickitat, the Wind, and the Owyhee, there’s just a narrow window to catch these exciting trips in April & May while the water levels are appropriate. On the White Salmon, there are gorgeous springs flowing over the basalt canyon walls, baby birds flapping their wings for the first time, and high water that makes for an action-packed trip – not to mention fewer people than in the height of summer, which makes for more intimate trips and a stellar wilderness experience. With so many reasons to raft in the spring, being prepared and bringing the stoke will make a potentially cold-weather rafting trip the time of your life, too. Here are 5 tips for rafting in cold weather with Wet Planet!

    Like any cold-weather activity, your enjoyment is linked to layers. Wet Planet provides all rafters with farmer-style wetsuits (think wetsuit overalls), polyester fleece jackets, splash jackets (think raincoat for the river), and neoprene booties, in addition to all other gear you need, like helmets, a paddle, and a personal flotation device. We do have some neoprene gloves and booties for use as well, on those extra cold days. On colder days, we recommend bringing a towel in addition to a bathing suit, and you are also welcome to bring additional layers. Merino wool socks under your wetsuit booties are a great choice!
    When deciding on these layers, there is one cardinal rule – cotton is rotten! Cotton is a negative insulator, which means that when it’s wet, it no longer insulates your body heat and will just make you more cold. Instead, you want to layer with synthetic fabrics or wool. I layer with the same thing I’d wear skiing: winter base layers and wool socks. We provide guests with the option to wear a polyester fleece because polyester is a great insulator, even when wet, so bringing your own polyester layers is another solid choice. Rash guards are another option for layering, and non-cotton but thin hats that can be worn beneath a helmet.
    three base layer long sleeve quarter zip good for whitewater rafting. Wet Planet Whitewater in Washington, Idaho, Oregon
    Your guide will give you “paddle commands” throughout your trip on the river. Even on hot days, it’s essential to follow these commands, because your guide is trying to give you the best ride possible! But on colder days, following these commands will help you stay in the raft and, therefore, stay more dry. Also, movement will warm you up. When on the river, the more you paddle, the warmer you’ll be. That being said, make sure you are listening to your guide and only paddling when they say. If you’re cold, let your guide know so they can take this in account with their commands.
    Once you’re back at Wet Planet Headquarters and changed into dry clothes, stop by the Wet Planet Espresso Bar! Our on-site espresso bar serves up warm beverages and treats, so we can get you something steamy and yummy to warm you up on the inside too! Whether you’re in the mood for a freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie from the White Salmon Baking Co. or a warm vanilla latte, we’ve got you covered. With your hot cocoa in hand, you’ll also have a chance to check out rafting photos if you went on the White Salmon!
    Barista prepares hot chocolate. Wet Planet Whitewater Washington Oregon Idaho
    When you choose to join Wet Planet on the river, you are also choosing to venture into one of the most beautiful river gorges on the planet, taking on some incredible rapids with your friends and/or family! How awesome is that?Maybe you get a little goofy by doing jumping jacks before you get on the river. Or maybe bring some extra laughs by telling your best river jokes to your guide and the other people in your raft. You can always do a little dance on the flatwater portions of the trip. These are the moments that will not only warm you up, but also make everyone around you warm and fuzzy too! Showing up with an attitude of gratitude plus excitement is one of the best ways to turn a cold-weather rafting trip into a favorite memory that lasts a lifetime.5 rafters and a guide going down a rapid with smiles and hands in the air. Wet Planet Washington, Oregon, Idaho.

    After my first experience on the river, I get to tell people, “The first time I whitewater rafted, the water was warmer than the air!” People think this is super cool (literally and figuratively), and so do I. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, and I know that you won’t either, especially if you follow the tips above. See you on the river!