How to Plan a Rafting Getaway With Your Friends in 3 Steps

Posted September 26, 2023 by Reily Schultz

Some of the best memories are made when you step out of your comfort zone. What better way to take that step than going whitewater rafting! We strongly believe in the connecting power of rivers, and know firsthand how influential they are in creating and strengthening bonds between friends, family, and coworkers. Whitewater rafting requires participants to work together and listen to each other, making it the perfect way to break out of your routine and connect with your group. Taking on a challenge together is a surefire way to bring people closer together. By the end of the trip you will have learned some new skills and forged a deeper appreciation of your friends and of the natural world around you.

If the idea of a rafting getaway with your friends sounds great, but the planning part of it not so much, we have good news! It is surprisingly easy to organize a river rafting trip with All-Outdoors. Follow the steps below and you’ll be splashing through the rapids with your crew in no time!

Step 1: Rally the troops

It all starts with taking the first step and spreading the word (Insider tip: forwarding our eNews or sharing one of our social media posts is super easy and tends to be very effective). Who is interested in rafting? Are you doing some team building with co-workers? Celebrating a bachelor or bachelorette party? Girls day out? It’s a good idea to ask each individual whether they can swim, what their fitness level is, and how adventurous they are before moving on to selecting a river trip option.

Step 2: Choose your adventure

With 10 California rivers to choose from and trips available from April to October (see this year’s Rafting Season Update for details), finding a whitewater option for every type of friend group is a breeze. Our California Rafting Consultants will help you pick the best river, itinerary, and time of year for your group to ensure that you reserve a trip that will be fun yet accessible for everyone.

Flexible & Fun for All

For friends with little free time on their hands, check out the South Fork American. This river offers the most flexibility. The South Fork is the closest whitewater rafting to the Bay Area, has the longest and most reliable season, a variety of itineraries to accommodate your busy schedules, and the option for Express trips that give you more time to enjoy your day off of the water. This river is ideal for non-swimmers or nervous rafters, first time rafters, and for anyone who is looking to have a fun day out on the water! Rafting on the South Fork is appropriate for just about every type of guest and skill level.

Friends and family rafting the South Fork American

Craving More Spice?

Looking for a full day of adventure but not ready for anything too intense? Let’s get you rafting on the Middle Fork American or Merced River! Both of these Class 3-4 rivers offer an exciting challenge in some of California’s most beautiful canyons without being too far from bigger cities or the Bay Area. Big rapids at the start of the day will have you working as a team within the first few minutes of the adventure. 

Has your group already worked up an appetite for bigger whitewater? Join us right outside of Yosemite National Park and raft down one of California’s most famous rivers – the Tuolumne. All-Outdoors is fortunate to be able to offer trips on both the Class 5 Cherry Creek/Upper Tuolumne section, as well as on the Class 4+ Main Tuolumne River. These advanced runs require teamwork and strong communication, making them the perfect opportunities to strengthen relationships.

With a shorter window of opportunity (view Real-Time River Flows), these seasonal rivers pack a punch and will leave you and your friends giddy, bonding over that “Holy cow! We just did that!” moment. Groups of avid adventurous rafters may want to make plans to check these rivers off of their rafting bucket list:

Guys Weekend - South Fork American

Disconnect & Reconnect

When it comes to building strong connections with your friends, not much can beat a multi-day river adventure. With our overnight trips, you have your choice of river, camping set-up, and intensity level. The South Fork American 2-Day trip features the comforts of car-accessible camping and running water. Our 2-Day and 3-Day trips on the Middle Fork American and the Tuolumne rivers run as self-supported trips into remote canyons and are California’s Top Two Wilderness Vacations. Serene camping sites and captivating side hikes will leave you with unique stories to share once you’re off the water. These trips encourage you to disconnect from the rest of the world and redirect your focus to the present so you can better enjoy the people you are with in the beautiful riverside setting.

Friends and Family - Middle Fork Rafting

Step 3: Book the trip!

You can reserve your adventure over the phone as you discuss details with a California Rafting Consultant, or book online once you have your date and itinerary picked out. Speaking to our specialists is always the best way to find the ideal fit for the adventure you are hoping for.

We understand that coordinating with friends can be tricky – often like herding cats – especially when it comes to payment. To make these steps easier for you, we offer group reservations where everyone can pay for themselves while still being in one group reservation. As the group organizer, you can invite your friends via a personalized link to join your group reservation and pay online. You will be able to see who has added to the group as your friends confirm. You will not be responsible for your friends’ payments, and we will communicate with each group member directly as your trip approaches. 

Need to change your plans? Breathe easy with our industry-leading Cancellation Policy and reschedule your trip for a better time for your group.

Friends rafting the Tuolumne River

Travel Logistics

Eager rafters from all over the country (and the world!) flock to California for our famous whitewater and National Parks. Because we know you may be traveling from afar, we offer lodging recommendations near our meeting locations for each river. You may also be interested in our suggestions for activities you can do after the rapids to help round out your adventure.

We do our best to make planning your whitewater adventure an easy and stress-free process. Once your trip is booked, the only things you are responsible for are completing your online registration, arriving on time, and bringing appropriate attire and footwear! Hidden fees should never be part of the adventure – parking, shuttles, rafting gear, and food are all included in your one-time reservation payment.

“But isn’t whitewater rafting expensive?”

In case your friends are hesitant about the cost of a rafting trip being too high, have them compare it to an average weekend getaway. Our multi-day trips are all-inclusive – keeping your planning easy and your wallet happy. Pieced-together vacations can get complicated and expensive quickly, leaving you to finalize many little decisions as your trip date approaches, and during the trip itself. All-Outdoors multi-day trips allow you to relax and enjoy your hard-earned time off; Once you arrive, we take care of the rest!

Check out how far your dollar will go on a weekend in Las Vegas versus an overnight whitewater rafting trip on the Middle Fork American:

Fancy Eats on the Tuolumne
Guides Skye and Kira serving some riverside charcuterie on the Tuolumne

Ready to get started and plan a rafting getaway you and your friends will always remember? Scroll back up and start with Step 1. We can’t wait to hang out with you and your people on the river!

Author Bio

Reily Schultz

Reily is a Gold Country native. She graduated from Willamette University with a degree in Studio Art and a minor in Gender Studies and Psychology. She joined the All-Outdoors family in the spring of 2022, working as a California Rafting Consultant and a member of the marketing team. Her favorite All-Outdoors itinerary is the multi-day Tuolumne rafting trip. Reily is an avid artist, outdoors-woman, and purr-fessional cat snuggler.


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