Frequently Asked Questions about Lehigh River Rafting

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

The best types of clothing and footwear to wear rafting:

In the warmer summer months, a lightweight t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and an old pair of sneakers or wet suit booties are best. Don’t forget the sunscreen and eyeglass straps!  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.

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.

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. In colder conditions (Spring and Fall), you should plan on wearing a wetsuit. You may bring your own, or you can rent one at our Adventure Center. A bathing suit or synthetic long underwear can be worn underneath.

Wet suit rentals available at the rafting center:

Wet suits and waterproof paddling gear can be rented at the Lehigh River rafting center. Rental fees are:

  • $20 for full wet suit package (full suit, boots, and mittens)
  • $12 for wet suit jacket and pants
  • $6 for wet suit jacket or splash jacket
  • $6 for wet suit pants
  • $5 for boots
  • $3 for mittens

Whitewater Challengers provides the following safety equipment:

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. These can be rented at the rafting center before you head to the river. Helmets are not required, but are also available at the Lehigh River Rafting Center for a $1 rental fee.  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 cameras (other than waterproof ) should be left locked in your car while rafting.

Our Lehigh River rafting trips stop about half way for a lunch break on the river side. Bring a light lunch or purchase a lunch from our snack bar. You can order and prepay for lunches with your reservation, in which case a lower price applies. (On warm summer days, we recommend you bring a small ice pack or frozen water bottle(s) to place in the water-tight lunch container inside your raft). Lunches are available at no cost, on weekdays, with our Family Style Whitewater Trip.

Can I take a camera on my rafting trip?

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 the Lehigh River. Souvenir photos are available for purchase after your trip!

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

Your vehicle will remain at the Lehigh River Rafting Center and our free shuttle buses will take you to and from the river. Shuttle times to and from the Lehigh River vary with each trip and traffic conditions.

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 one of our land-based adventures like trail biking or paintball games. 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?

Rapids are rated from Class I (easiest) to Class V (most challenging). Class VI is considered to be not navigable without unreasonable risk of injury. Our easiest trips on the Lehigh River feature Class I or II rapids; others feature Class II, III, or III+ whitewater.

If you are looking for a rafting trip with high class rapids than the Lehigh River you can choose from our Hudson River Rafting or Black River Rafting trips nearby in upstate NY. For specific information about each river check out our How to Choose section.

Will there by a guide in my raft?

At the Lehigh, except for rare instances of very high flows (above 4000 cfs from the dam) our guides are in kayaks, escorting the group and helping out as needed. There will not be a river guide in every raft unless other arrangements are made prior to the trip. At higher flows above 4000 cfs from the dam, you can expect there to be a guide in every 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 experience to raft on the Lehigh River?

No. All of our trips are guided and are appropriate for first timers. Be sure to check minimum age requirements, though.

Can I bring my children rafting on the Lehigh River?

Our Family Style Rafting Trips are suitable for ages 5+ and our Premier Whitewater Rafting Trips are suitable for ages 9+.

Do we have to paddle?

Rafting is a team sport, and one that involves navigating your raft through the rapids. This is not a float trip. You will be asked to paddle, and how much 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 Lehigh River guide has met your expectations, you may feel free to show your appreciation. Remember the name of your river guide, they may not be on the same shuttle as you back to the rafting center.

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 rafting safe?

We are 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. Read more about Whitewater Challengers and our safety record.