You already know that rafting trips are lots of fun, but as you plan, you want to know how to budget and plan the cost of a white water rafting trip. The outline below will give you an idea of how to prepare your white water wallet (or purse, or European carry-all). Compare prices for white water rafting whether you are looking at a simple half - full day rafting trip, or looking at an all-inclusive whitewater rafting expedition for multiple days. Rafting trips with a professional outfitter include transportation (usually by school bus) to and from the river - meaning they will drop you off at the top end (the put-in) and pick you up at the bottom end (the take-out). Multi-day expeditions will provide the same, but may also include transport by bus, plane, helicopter, jetboat, etc.
As you compare these industry-wide prices, remember to plan some cash (generally 10% of trip cost) to tip your river guides that get you so expertly down the wild rivers so well! They love knowing how well you enjoyed your time in their care.
The typical rates listed are based on adult prices. Youth white water rafting prices are typically $10 - $20 less than adult prices.
Day Rafting Trips:
In many cases, where there is white water river rafting, you will find other fun adventures to add to your day, such as zip line canopy tours, hiking tours, 4x4 tours, etc. Often outfitters will offer a discount of 5-10% off when you bundle other activities together.
As mentioned earlier, multi-day river expeditions can require a complex sequence of "planes, trains and automobiles" to get you to and from the river. These modes of transportation just getting to the river (and back again) are part of the adventure (and cost) of going into the wilderness for days at a time. Of course all meals while on the river are included with multi-day expeditions.
Multi-Day Rafting Trips: (generally plan $300-$500 per day)
Additional Considerations as You Prepare:
Beyond the obvious costs of "getting yourself there", you should consider what kind of gear or clothing you need for such an adventure. You can learn more about "Preparing for a White Water Adventure" on that page, but in general be sure to have good sandals or river shoes (that can get wet), and whatever you need for sun protection like hats, quick-dry shirts, etc.
Paying a rafting outfitter with well trained guides is worth what you pay vs. guiding yourself down the river in a rent-a-raft! There are some sections of rivers out there where renting a guide-less raft or inner tube is all you need, but then, that's not white water rafting now is it!
When you compare the costs of white water rafting with other activities, like a visit to a theme park, a good day of getting into the great outdoors with others who share the same spirit of untamed adventure is priceless. Does bonding with fellow roller coaster riders ever really happen?! Not like on a day of rafting.
On a multi-day rafting trip, the bond with those sharing the experience strengthens exponentially. Something else happens after about day 3 on a multi-day rafting expedition which is very difficult to put into words, but "magical" might be appropriate. It has something to do with the unwinding of your cares back there in the world outside of the river and canyon. Something about the linear way that a river trip unfolds helps you focus on the moment at hand.
After about the second night, sleeping in a tent or under the stars is you settle into it and you begin to wonder how we ever go to sleep inside four walls! This happens to first-time campers time and time again. One last value to mention is the ability to truly get away from cell phone reach. Think about that for a second. The opportunity to not even be tempted by a tether to the world back home is increasingly rare. Get thee to the wilderness!
Wait, one more reason to love how rivers create the perfect vacation... You hardly have to plan anything for the day, or multiple days. There are no itineraries to create, no wrestling with how to satisfy 5 year old Bobby, 15 year old Cindy, and 70 year old Nana. Everyone gets in the boat and experiences the same memory together. Name a vacation that can pull that off so effortlessly!