COVID-19 Update: Looking AheadPosted January 12th, 2021 by Gregg Armstrong, Co-Founder
To the All-Outdoors extended rafting family:
Welcome to 2021 – the year we all hope will be more “normal” than what we have experienced in 2020. It has been a wild ride for many reasons (and still is), but an undeniable reality is that the pandemic has altered our lives. Even though the vaccine is giving needed hope, there is a distance to go before we are in the clear.
People are asking us about the coming rafting season because they want to plan something to look forward to that is away from home, outside, and with family and friends. We hope the following helps answer this important question:
Will there be a rafting season in 2021?
The answer is yes, but with a few caveats. While progress is being made to get on top of the pandemic, no one knows exactly how long it will take before we are at the point of moving around freely without Covid concerns. Until then, we at All-Outdoors will maintain our preventative practices to help slow down the spread of Covid and assure that we ourselves and those around us are healthy.
This past season we began operations on July 1 by designing and executing COVID sensitive trips and practices to make sure our guests and our employees were as safe as possible. By doing so we were able to enjoy being outside and recreating on some of the most beautiful rivers in California. Thanks to everyone involved, including our guests, the season was a remarkable success as we all benefited from what rivers do for the body and soul.
If Covid is still an issue, we will repeat the same type of trips and practices for the coming season. If conditions change for the better (and we certainly hope they do!) we will make adjustments. We will be evaluating the situation on a constant basis and abide by government mandates and practices.
One thing we have done to help with some of the uncertainty of Covid and the 2021 rafting season, is to revise our Cancellation Policy to give peace of mind and added flexibility to anyone planning to raft with us this season. Learn more below.
What did trips look like during the 2020 rafting season?
Private Rafts With Fewer People
Following state and county guidelines for the 2020 rafting season, we were NOT mixing groups of guests unless they were from the same household or within the same “social bubble”. Every group* got their own private raft(s). Each “private” raft on a trip did not mix with other “private” rafts on the same trip. To minimize the risk of COVID spread, we also lowered the number of guests per raft. With all these changes, rafting felt more like a private, intimate experience than ever!
* Private rafts required a minimum number of paid spaces per reservation. (All Middle Fork American River itineraries: 4 spaces; all South Fork American River itineraries: 4 spaces midweek / 6 spaces weekend departures.)
Before and During Your Trip
To help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, we made several adjustments to lower the chances of spread. Steps taken during the 2020 rafting season:
- Prior to the trip, all participants filled out a Health Declaration Form stating that in the 14 days before your trip you have neither experienced COVID-19 symptoms nor been exposed to anyone testing positive for COVID-19.
- For all trips in which lunch was provided, each participant also filled out a Lunch Order Form. Unlike in previous years, in 2020 we were packing individual lunches before the trip, taking orders ahead of time. How lunches work in 2020.
- At the meet place, there was a short screening process consisting of a few questions about how you are feeling to ensure you are symptom free.
- We did a couple things during the shuttle to reduce the chances of spreading COVID. First, we were taking fewer people in each vehicle so we can space out groups. Secondly, we had everyone apply hand sanitizer just before getting on the bus, and required everyone to wear a face covering during the ride.
- We made some changes and provided instructions during meals and at our facilities to keep things clean and keep people from staying too close together.
Keeping COVID down is a team effort. Here’s how our guests helped us limit the risk of spreading the virus in the 2020 season:
- No symptomatic people. Anyone experiencing symptoms in the days leading up to the trip was asked to reschedule.
- Personal hand sanitizer for use at times when ours was not readily available.
- Face covering that could be worn around the neck during the trip and used when necessary (at our facility, on shore, on board our shuttle vehicles, or when asked by guides). Scarves and Buff-style sleeves that hang around the neck worked nicely. Face coverings were available for purchase.
- Personal water bottle. It’s important to stay hydrated on a rafting trip, and during this time we didn’t want people drinking from the same container. Water bottles were available for purchase as well.
- Post-trip reporting. Guests were instructed to notify us immediately if they were to come down with symptoms or test positive anytime in the 14 days following their trip. We would then share the information with local government agencies and other guests who were on the trip.
What if you can’t go or we can’t go
We realize that COVID has made all our plans a little less certain. There’s a chance that you could be exposed to someone with the virus before your trip or even get it yourself and not be able to go. If there’s a spike in cases, the State could shut rafting down altogether. So let’s be in it together. When you book, you’re getting a rafting trip — no matter what. Ideally that will be just the trip you want on the day you want. But if that trip can’t go we’ll both agree to do it another time. If you can’t make it for any reason, we’ll give you your trip at a later date, either this year or in any future year. If we can’t run it for any reason, COVID or otherwise, you’ll agree to go another time.
For full details, see our updated Cancellation Policy.
Again, thank you so much for being patient and taking things one step at a time with us. We don’t know what the future will hold, but we are committed to running responsible and extremely fun and enjoyable rafting trips.
For more information on state and local regulations regarding whitewater rafting and other outdoor activities, you can visit the following resources:
- The State of California COVID 19 Industry Guidance: Campgrounds, RV Parks, and Outdoor Recreation.
- A Message from the El Dorado County Public Health Officer.