Essential Eligibility Requirements for River Trips with ROW Adventures

Below are listed the essential eligibility criteria required to go on to any ROW Adventures’ rafting trips. The minimum physical requirements are outlined below, however, it’s important to understand that this is an adventure! The more prepared you are, the more you will enjoy the experience.  Being in good physical condition will help you get the most from your trip and allow you to participate in each day’s activities. This includes riding in rafts and paddling (if you choose to ride in a paddle raft) and being able to carry your personal gear to and from the rafts. We make a point of stopping to explore various points of interest along the way, taking short hikes to show you the treasures of the river canyons. Our guides will provide a description of optional hikes and activities so you can decide if you want to participate or not.

Here are some other requirements, known as our “Essential Eligibility Criteria.” This is a list of the minimum physical and mental capabilities that all trip members should possess before participating on a ROW Adventures river trip. Everyone should be able to:

  1. Remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
  2. Properly fit into and wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device with a maximum chest size of 56 inches.
  3. On rivers where helmets are required, properly wear a helmet.
  4. Independently get in and out of a boat multiple times each day.  This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and fixed objects into a seated position.
  5. Independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation.  This includes the ability to maintain your balance near elevated terrain, ledges or cliffs.
  6. Independently swim in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD and be able to get into the proper position (face up, feet up, feet downstream) when floating in a personal floatation device in whitewater or turbulent current
  7. Be an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
  8. Swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
  9. Assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
  10. Follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
  11. Carry personal dry bags and other personal gear uphill and over uneven ground, from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.  (This only applies on multi-day trips).
  12. Manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
  13. If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
  14. Remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.

During higher water levels that are often encountered on spring and early summer trips and on some of our more challenging rivers, more rigorous physical and mental capabilities may be required.  While high water can happen on any river, the more demanding rivers that we run in the spring include the Bruneau, Owyhee, Lochsa, Middle Fork of the Salmon, and at times, other rivers as well.  For these trips, in addition to the criteria above, participants are also required to:

  • Be aware of and be mentally prepared for the rigors of the trip.
  • Have no current risk factors associated with heart disease or other heart conditions.
  • Be in good health, agile, coordinated, and capable of taking care of themselves in rough water (self-rescue).
  • Get regular vigorous cardio-vascular and aerobic exercise.
  • Be at least 15 years old and weigh over 100 pounds.
  • Not be afraid of the water or of swimming.

These criteria are to help ensure your safety and the success of our trips and are applied uniformly to everyone. If you do not meet these criteria, you should not go. We are committed to making reasonable modifications for individuals with disabilities or others as long as those modifications can be made without fundamentally altering the nature of the trip or compromising the overall safety of the trip.  We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions.  However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on a wilderness river can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Be sure to consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.  It is important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety.  If you are concerned about your eligibility, please call us.

Additional Considerations

Here are some additional situations that occur frequently enough on our trips that you should consider.  Our goal is to present a realistic view of trips that take place in wild places to help you decide whether or not our trips are appropriate for you. 

Insects and wild animals – Most of our trips take place in wilderness areas that are home to wild animals including poisonous reptiles and insects. Sometimes we see bears but it is rare that there are any issues with them.  We see rattlesnakes more often than bears, yet it would be unusual to have any issues with them.  Insects are part of the environment we visit including bees, wasps and mosquitoes.  If you have a known allergy it is critical that you bring 2 (two) applications of appropriate medication (epinephrine, etc.).

Weather conditions – Since our trips take place outdoors, we are exposed to many of nature’s elements.  Weather can fluctuate widely and on the same trip there can be potential for hypothermia and dehydration. If you bring the appropriate gear as described on our packing list, and follow directions given by your guides, your comfort and safety will be greatly increased.

Falling out of the raft – If you go on a whitewater rafting trip, you should be willing to fall out of the raft and into the river in the middle of a rapid.  The chances of this happening vary greatly from one river to another, and can be very unlikely on some rivers, while more common on others.  Everyone is wearing a PFD (personal floatation device) while on the water, and our guides instruct you on proper swimming/floating/rescue technique, thus the ability to swim is not a requirement, but is certainly helpful. The best way to tackle a fear of falling into the river is to get comfortable in the water before the trip by going to a local lake or pool, taking swimming lessons and once you are on the trip, get into the water voluntarily.

Communication – One of the attractions in today’s busy world is to be able to disconnect.  River trips are perfect because we are almost always away from cell phone coverage and thus, no internet.  Our guides carry a variety of communication devices that are only available for our use in emergency situations. If you feel a need to communicate with the outside world during your trip, you will need to provide your own communication device such as a satellite texter or satellite phone, being respectful of not bringing news of the outside world to the trip.

General fitness level – Some of our guests find that planning for their river trip may provide the perfect motivation for improving their physical conditioning!  While some of our trips are very demanding and should only be considered by active, healthy, fit participants, others are less so and suitable for almost everyone.  If you get regular exercise and are comfortable in water, it’s likely you will enjoy the trip even more.

We have been sharing the adventure of river trips for over four decades and do our best to prepare you ahead of time.  Thank you for reading this information.