ROW Adventures thoughtfully matches our whitewater rafting tours with the perfect combination of crafts to ensure an exceptional experience. Over our 41 years, we've tested, adapted, and pioneered improvements in our fair share of rubber. Our very first fleet included some very heavy WWII surplus rafts that had been painted with a silver paint called Gacoflex to preserve the old material. They were so heavy we named them the "Silver Subs" because they tended to go through and under the waves rather than over them. In 1985 we bought our first self-bailing raft, which was brand new to the market. We soon shared design ideas with the manufacturer. We've had the good fortune of testing out many styles of craft made of different sorts of material, and today, we have selected what we consider to be the highest quality that suits our needs. Each craft type is unique; offering a different operational purpose, riding experience, propulsion as well as cargo capacity. If you're considering a ROW Adventure, get to know our craft options and their distinctive qualities below.
The key is teamwork! A guide in the back of the raft gives direction through commands such as "All forward," "All back," "Back left," etc. For those wanting to be active and wet, paddle boats are a great choice.
Capacity: 4-8 Passengers
Stern Mount (Paddle Raft with Oar Assist)
The ideal combination of power and participation, stern mount oar rafts (also known as "oar assist paddle rafts") are ideal on rivers with extreme whitewater when having additional control is essential if your paddling team falls on the floor of the raft. It's also a great option on rivers with long sections of flat water, so the guide can row while guests relax. In 1984 we hired a guide from West Virginia named Conrad Fourney and he introduced us to stern-mount rowing frames. He built us a couple of samples out of 2x6" lumber and we believe we were the first outfitter in the West to use stern mounts. Today our frames are made of light-weight, strong aluminum.
Capacity: 4-8 Passengers
This is the traditional raft of the US West, now exported around the world! It's the perfect place to kick back, take pictures, and enjoy the scenery. Rowed by a skilled guide using 10-11' oars, these 16-18 foot rafts have lots of room. Custom-made aluminum boxes carry our kitchen and dry goods. Huge coolers packed with ice carry fresh food and cold beverages. The padded passenger seat across the front doubles as a kitchen table at camp.
Capacity: 3-5 Passengers
Unique to the Middle Fork of the Salmon, sweep boats are the modern version of old Mississippi longboats. They only work on rivers with constant current and are designed to carry a lot of weight with little draft. On our Middle Fork of the Salmon trips larger than 13 guests, ROW runs a sweep raft. This boat and guide arrive early in camp and set up the kitchen as well as the spacious tents that ROW provides. When the rest of the group arrives all you have to do is carry your personal gear to the tent of your choice and roll out your sleeping bag.
Capacity: One sweep driver and one swamper (assistant) plus about 2000 pounds of gear including food, ice, camping equipment, etc.
Cargo rafts fulfill the same function as a sweep boat, but on rivers that have flat water between the rapids, you need to be able to row. Our 22' cargo rafts have 11-12' oars out each side to accomplish this task.
Capacity: A guide, swamper, and up to around 1500-2000 pounds of gear.
Inflatable kayaks are 11-13 feet long and there are single models and double models. Even with no prior experience, these stable crafts allow you to enjoy the thrill of the river kayaking within minutes of putting on your flotation device and helmet. On rivers where we use inflatable kayaks, we share them among interested trip participants. We have different guidelines on each river in terms of which sections we allow these to be used. They do carry a higher risk than any other type of craft we have because there is no guide in the boat with you. We use a follow-the-leader system with these, but essentially it's a self-guided experience.
Capacity: 1 or 2 people.
Before there were rubber rafts, boats were made of wood, or canvas stretched over a wooden frame. Dories carry on this tradition and provide a unique ride in an elegant craft. The guide rows, leaving you to relax.
Capacity: 1 guide and 2-4 guests.
On the Upper Missouri River in central Montana, along the Lewis & Clark trail, ROW runs 34' canoes that replicate those early fur traders used. Carrying 10-14 paddlers, these stable and maneuverable canoes create the perfect platform to gaze upon the passing scenery and tell stories of the river. Smaller 17' canoes are also available for those that prefer a bit more independence.
Capacity: Up to 14 paddlers, but they work with as few as 4 paddlers.
If you're considering a multi-day whitewater trip, check out what a typical day on the river looks like with ROW Adventures.