My First Trip Whitewater Rafting

Posted August 1, 2013 by Denise Karapinar

Hey guys! Denise here again. I thought it might be fun share my experience whitewater rafting for the first time with all of you. My first trip was on the South Fork of the American River. This post is especially for those of you who have been thinking about a trip, but are maybe hesitant because they aren’t sure what to expect.

Spoiler Alert: You Can Expect  FUN!

The Arrival

Arriving at the All-Outdoors facility, my mind was RACING! I was a little nervous to be honest. I have been doing outdoorsy activities my whole life, but the water and I never quite got along. I didn’t really know what to expect!
This trip was also a little intimidating, because I did it alone. I kind of felt like I was back in middle school, worrying if anyone would choose me to be on their raft!
I met up with my guide, and some groups of people that were going out for the day. Here is the awesome thing …. People that like to get out and do adventurous things, are usually SUPER outgoing and friendly! My guide was great at getting conversation flowing between everyone, and we were having fun and feeling comfortable pretty much straight off the bat!


We went through our pre-river orientation, which actually sounded a little intimidating. They definitely make you feel like falling overboard is a likely occurrence! I have been out quite a few times since my first experience, and I have yet to see even one person fall out of the raft, unless it was on purpose!

Hitting The Water


We walked down to the river to our rafts, and hopped right in! That first step into the raft is a little shaky and awkward, but you will be surprised how quickly you get used to it! By the end of the day, it felt weirder to be on land than in the water!
We learned all the paddle commands, which are pretty darn easy. You really just have to listen and be semi-coordinated (which I am not – and was still fine).

And then we were off!

The First Rapid


My first rapid, my gosh WHAT A RUSH!!! It is like being on a wet roller coaster! You get your heart pumping, and it is impossible not to smile all the way through it. The water feels awesome and you feel a sense of accomplishment after you come out on the other side of it.

Our guide was funny, and very knowledgeable (look at that paddling technique!). We spent most of the first half getting to know each other, telling jokes, and learning about the area and the natural features of the area.

There is a part on the way to lunch where you can hop out and swim. My first trip, I opted out of it. Everyone looked like they were having so much fun. I was just worried about getting back in the boat. I wish I had went! The trips after my first one, I have jumped in each time, and it has been AWESOME! Getting back in the boat is super easy too!

Lunch Time

2 hours must have gone by, and it left no longer than 20 minutes! Before I knew it, we were pulling in the boats for lunch.
Lunch … man was I NOT looking forward to lunch. When I think of adventure trips, I think of lunch as being a melted granola bar and some premade soggy sandwich. To my extreme surprise and delight, All-Outdoors has their stuff together.
Let me break it down for you. Lunch consisted of:

  • chips and salsa
  • a variety of fresh (and deliciously ripe) fruits
  • a build your own sandwich BAR – wraps, breads, gluten-free options, a variety of meats, hummus, sun dried tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, just ANYTHING you would want on a sandwich, they have it!
  • PB&J and cookies for the kiddos!

Back On The Water

After lunch, we headed back out to the water, and BOY was it an exhilarating second half of the trip.


I am struggling to put into words how fun, refreshing, and just amazing these trips are. It definitely makes you feel ALIVE.

Finishing Up

We took a bus back to AO, bid adieu to the new friends I had made, rinsed off (they have some seriously fancy river showers), and I headed home.
I was definitely bitten by the whitewater rafting bug. I was ready for round two! Every trip has been such a positive experience for me! I hope you guys will give it a try too.
My biggest advice:

  • Wear sunscreen
  • Listen
  • HAVE FUN  

Don’t be a chicken like I was that first day, if they tell you that you can do something, DO IT! You might regret not trying it later!


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