Banff Rafting FAQs
Is it safe? How many people to a raft? Can I bring a camera? Read on for answers to the most frequently asked questions by visitors about rafting in and around Alberta and BC, Canada. To make finding your answers a little easier, we’ve broken down our questions into five categories.
Should I go rafting in Banff if I’ve never rafted?
Short answer: Yes! Most of our guests at Banff Rafting are first-time rafters, just like you. We’ve got a real knack for getting you prepared, and we’ve designed trips, equipment and safety briefings with beginners in mind. If you’re ready for fun and adventure, then you’ll have a terrific time in the whitewater.
I’ve been rafting before…will Banff whitewater rafting be fun for me?
Once again: Yes! The Kicking Horse River is a class IV to IV+ river during most of the rafting season. If you’ve been rafting before, but never rafted the Kicking Horse, you’ll be impressed by its continuity — lots of rapids with very little down time. And, unlike other rivers, no paddling is required to get from one rapid to the next!
Who will be my guide?
Our staff are truly the key to our past and future success. Our guiding team consists of men and women who possess loads of experience from years of rafting around the world. We generally require a minimum of three to five seasons of prior rafting experience before we decide if new guides are up to our standards. Our guests constantly comment that they love our guide’s enthusiasm for the Canadian Rockies whitewater experience and what they do, and the professionalism with which they do it. At Banff Rafting, whitewater rafting is our passion, and we are in business to share that passion with you!
Of course, all of our guides meet or exceed industry standards and we have on-going, in-house training and safety meetings throughout the season to constantly maintain and improve our skills and our risk management procedures.
The Kicking Horse River is renowned as a great river for rafting. While we make it our business to strive for fun on the river, we believe there’s more to it than that. We want you to have a safe, on-time adventure, where you’re greeted by friendly, happy and helpful staff who can answer all of your Canadian whitewater questions. That’s what we’re known for. We know that you want clean gear that gets replaced and upgraded frequently, clean facilities and a secure place for your personal items while on the river. You’ll get that from us. It’s what we love to do and how we earned the trust and loyalty of our many return guests, sales agents, wholesalers, tour operators, fine hoteliers and Canadian locals who faithfully recommend our rafting trips year after year and wouldn’t consider anyone else.
Do I paddle or hang on?
On the Kicking Horse River, you choose! If you prefer to assist your guide by paddling, that’s great. If you would feel more secure by simply holding on to the safety lines positioned around the raft, perfect. We encourage you to participate at a level that is comfortable for you. (“All-paddle” Alberta adventure trips can easily be arranged if that is your preference, so just ask!)
How many people per raft?
We choose to carry just 8 guests per raft, plus your guide, rather than pack people in rafts to lower prices. We will sometimes go to 9 passengers if it is a group that would like to stay together, or on our Gentle rafting trip where we often have youths. Our Canadian whitewater rafts are rated for up to 12 people.
What gear do you provide?
You’ll receive quality wetsuits, neoprene booties and gloves, warm fleece pullovers and spray jackets all included in the price, and, of course, government approved lifejackets and helmets. Our gear is cleaned and dried daily and replaced or upgraded frequently.
What do I bring?
Not much, really! We’ll take care of almost everything. Just bring your swimsuit (having it on ahead of time is helpful), dress appropriately for the day and bring a towel. You may want to purchase some souvenirs or photos of your Kicking Horse River experience, so plan for that.
Where do I change?
Our RiverBase Daylodge was expressly built for our rafting trips with real change rooms and washrooms. Your personal items remain dry and secure while you are having a good time on the Kicking Horse River. You’ll never have to change in the bushes, alongside the river, or under tarps.
I tend to get cold easily.
Our guests who are “thermally challenged” find that the gear works extremely well in keeping them warm. Know that the Kicking Horse River stays chilly year-round, which is why we work very hard to keep you warm and inside the raft at all times!
Can I buy pictures?
Yes. We offer a “same day” digital photo service. We want you to have bragging rights for your friends, family and workmates who didn’t join you on your Banff rafting adventure!
Can I bring a camera?
Yes, but make sure it is waterproof! Know ahead of time that you will be very busy paddling, making very little time for snapping photos.
What if I’m not a strong swimmer?
Swimming ability is recommended and good health is required. It is your choice to come if you are a weak or non-swimmer, and we have many each year. Keep in mind that this is a real Canadian Rockies whitewater adventure!
Will I fall out?
Falling out of the raft is always a possibility, but handles are in place on every boat to help you stay put. Our professional guides will warn you when rough rapids are ahead, instructing you to hold on to help ensure your safety. Our guides will also give detailed safety instructions before your adventure begins, with information on what to do if you do accidentally exit the raft.
Why do you have minimum ages or weights (or both) for your trips?
Weight minimums are dictated by the manufacturers of our lifejackets for use in Canadian whitewater. Age minimums are either the industry standard of care or from our many years of experience whitewater rafting the Kicking Horse River.
At the conclusion of the trip, enjoy tasty bakery treats, fresh fruit served with fresh brewed coffee, tea, rich hot chocolate or juice served while relaxing on the terrace of our RiverBase Daylodge.
Full day trip: (Maximum Horse Power trip)
A delicious lunch is served at the conclusion of your trip back at our comfortable RiverBase Daylodge. A succulent marinated chicken breast is barbecued and served with fresh baked French bread, assorted salads, tasty deserts, fresh fruit and hot and cold beverages. You’ll enjoy lunch prior to going on the water on the Maximum Horse Power Kicking Horse River trip.
What if it rains?
Actually, rafting in the refreshing Canadian rain can be a lot of fun — you’re going to get wet anyway! Our trips run, rain or shine.
What if I need to cancel my trip?
Sometimes your plans may change or unavoidable situations arise that necessitate having to cancel or change your trip plans. We understand that. We provide you with a generous 24-hour cancellation policy for individual bookings, and 7 days for groups of 8 or more.
However, please understand that once your trip is booked we reserve your space and assign Banff Rafting staff and resources to ensure your trip runs smoothly. Since few of these costs are recoverable at the last minute, cancellations inside of 24 hours (7 days for groups of 8 or more) of your scheduled trip departure are non-refundable and you will be fully charged.
In the unlikely event that Banff Rafting must cancel a trip, full refunds or alternate dates will be given.