Hudson River Rafting Frequently Asked Questions

What do I wear to go rafting on the Hudson River?

What to wear on your rafting trips depends on the type of year and weather conditions. In the warmer summer months, a lightweight t-shirt, a pair of shorts with a bathing suit worn underneath. In colder conditions (Spring and Fall), you should plan on wearing a wet suit – wet suit rentals are included with all Hudson River Rafting Trips. Synthetic long underwear can be worn underneath.

Don’t forget the sunscreen and eyeglass straps! Avoid wearing cotton; when wet, cotton loses all insulation value and will make you colder, not warmer. You may also choose to wear a windbreaker or a wool sweater and/or a ski-type hat on cooler days. Make sure you bring a dry change of clothes with you – because yes, you will get wet! A baseball cap, visor, or sunglasses are helpful in bright, sunny weather.

Footwear: Old sneakers or wet suit boots are best. Loose fitting sandals, flip-flops, “crocs” or bare feet are not permitted. Snug fitting sandals (like Tevas) that attach firmly at the toe and heel are acceptable, but don’t offer the same foot protection against sharp rocks as old sneakers do.

What safety equipment does Whitewater Challengers provide?

A personal flotation devise (PFD) is issued to every participant. These must be worn and buckled at all times while on the river. For cold or rainy days, wet suits are available at no cost. Helmets are mandatory on on the Hudson River. Though infrequently needed, a first aid kit is carried on every trip.

What can we bring in the raft?

In the raft, bring as little as possible. If there is medication you might require, keep it with you on the river. Towels, dry clothes, valuables, and other than waterproof cameras should be left locked in your car. On the Hudson River we provide a light snack and beverage on the river, you can opt to bring your own light snack or candy bar of your choosing.

Cameras: You will need to be actively paddling through the rapids, so picture-taking in the whitewater sections is inadvisable. However there are many scenic and beautiful spots along each river. Action souvenir photos are available for purchase after your trip!

How do we get back at the end of the day?

On the Hudson River your rafting trip ends at the rafting center so no shuttle is required at the end of the day. Once you get off the river you are steps away from dry clothing at the rafting center.

How deep is the water?

River depths vary. Slow, calmer stretches of water tend to be those that are deeper. Faster, choppy water tends to be shallow, often 4 feet deep or less. Regardless of the depth, however, if you should find yourself overboard (this is rare) in fast moving water, the proper procedure is to float on your back, feet pointed downstream. Don’t attempt to stand until the water is less than 18 inches deep. A guide or nearby raft will assist you, or you may prefer to simply swim to shore.

Do I have to know how to swim?

Swimming ability is not required. Nevertheless, if you are especially apprehensive in or around water, you may want to consider our aerial zipline course. Rafting, by its nature, places you on, in or around water most of the day. On all of our trips a personal flotation device (life jacket) is worn at all times. Safety equipment will not fit all shapes and sizes, so please consider this in planning your reservations. Also, please remember that whitewater rafting is an active sport that requires some exertion on your part. The larger the rapids, the better your physical conditioning should be.

How big are the rapids on the Hudson River?

On the Hudson River the rapids range from Class II to Class IV+. Rapids are the most intense in Spring and Fall with somewhat milder conditions in the Summer. Rapids are rated from Class I (easiest) to Class V (most challenging). If you are looking for a more challenging rafting trip you can raft the nearby Black River in the Thousand Islands Region of NY. Or for a more family-friendly option raft the Lehigh River in the Poconos, PA. For specific information about each river check out our How to Choose section.

Will there be a river guide in my raft?

Yes. All of our trips are guided and at the Hudson River you will have a New York State certified river guide in your raft.

What do I do if I fall out of the raft?

Your first priority is to get back into the raft as quickly as possible. Grab onto the raft, or its carrying rope. Your raftmates should reach under your armpits and then lean backwards, helping pull you up and over the raft tube. You can help by kicking, just as if you were swimming. If you get separated from your raft, whatever you do, DO NOT STAND UP in moving water. The force of the water is powerful, even if only knee-deep. Instead, lie on your back, feet pointed downstream, and float through the rest of the rapids. Then in the next calm spot, you can swim back to your raft, or to whatever raft is closest.

Do I need rafting experience?

You do not need any experience to the raft the Hudson River. All of our trips are guided and are appropriate for first timers. Depending on the season minimum age requirements are: 18 and up in April; 12 and up from May 1 until Memorial Weekend; and 7 and up from Memorial Day through October

How old must I be to go rafting on the Hudson River?

On the Hudson River the minimum age requirement varies with the seasons:

  • 18 and up in April
  • 12 and up from May 1 until Memorial Weekend
  • 7 and up from Memorial Day through October

Do we have to paddle?

Yes, rafting is a team sport, and one that involves navigating your raft through the rapids. This is not a float trip. You can not rely on your river guide to do all of the paddling, they will give you instructions on when and how to paddle. How much paddling will depend on the intensity of each particular rapid. Whitewater rafting is an active sport that requires some significant exertion on your part.

Can we tip our river guide?

We strive to deliver top quality service. If your guide has met your expectations, you may feel free to show your appreciation.

Can we request a specific guide to be on our trip?

Yes, as long as you do so when you are making your reservation. We will try to arrange for this, but can’t guarantee it.

Is whitewater rafting on the Hudson River safe?

Whitewater Challengers is extremely proud of our safety record, which is unmatched in the industry. Our training programs are ongoing and we are committed to delivering the safest trips possible. However, as with any active outdoor sport, there are inherent risks to whitewater rafting and there are factors that are beyond our control. You will be asked to acknowledge this by signing a liability waiver form before your river trip.