River Tips for a Great Adventure


We are sure you are looking forward to your River Adventure with Headwaters Outfitters and we will make every effort to provide you with a wonderful day to remember. We have learned by experience and throughout the years that paddlers can gauge the enjoyment of their river trip by how well they were prepared should the unexpected occur. The weather can change quickly in the mountains and you can fall out of your boat and get wet.

Upon Arrival at Our River Shop

Plan to arrive 30 minutes before actually getting on the river. This allows time for check in, completing all river_release_form , watching a short safety video, parking in our designated parking area, checking out your gear, and renting any optional equipment. These procedures will allow you to depart on time. If you arrive later than your scheduled departing time, your trip will be delayed until the next departure time.

For safety and convenience, please plan to leave your car keys at our River Shop. We do not recommend that you take them with you on your river trip.

Use the following information to help prepare for an enjoyable day on the river. Leave all items that you are not taking with you locked in the trunk of your car. REMEMBER, everything that you take with you on the river is at risk of getting lost and or wet.

Bring with you to the River Shop everything you want to take on the river (coolers and larger items going on canoe trips maybe taken directly to the “Paddle House” to load into the River Van). Organize yourself to reduce the number of trips you make to your vehicle.

Restrooms and other facilities are available for you to change clothing, etc.

Your River Host will serve as your assistant and direct you to the Paddle House where your orientation will begin. The River Host will outfit each member of your group with the correct fitting Personal Floatation Device (PFD), equipment and gear. You will then be transported to the starting point for your adventure.

We take great pride in issuing you clean, top-notch equipment. You will be responsible to return it in the same condition.

Upon Arrival & While on the River

A – Be Prepared and Responsible:

ALL RIVER ACTIVITIES ARE RISK SPORTS-BOTH KNOWN AND UNKNOWN DANGERS EXIST. THERE ARE NO LIFEGUARDS OR SAFETY PERSONNEL ON THE RIVER. You must assume responsibility for your safety and that of your children. We do not assume liability for personal injury, loss or damage to personal property.
Paddlers, adults or youth will not be able to participate on the river without READING AND SIGNING A HEADWATERS OUTFITTERS ASSUMPTION OF RISK & RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM. Paddlers age 17 and under must have forms completed and signed by their parents or legal guardian. HAVE THE FORMS COMPLETED BEFORE ARRIVAL AND BRING THEM WITH YOU.

B – Dress for the water and weather conditions.

Be prepared to get wet. Wear comfortable, fast drying layers of clothing that can be taken off or added to during the day. Wear river shoes or old sneakers at all times on the river to protect your feet. NO FLIP-FLOPS.

Bring change of clothes and dry shoes to change into if you get wet, especially in cooler temperatures (bring plastic bag to put them in). Each season brings a complete and different paddling experience.

In summer, wear swim suits, T-shirts and quick-drying shorts. In cooler weather/water, wear clothes that will keep you warm when wet: polypropylene, wool, but NOT cotton.

Bring a change of clothing for after your river trip and in cooler weather, to take with you on the river. Plastic trash bags work great to store wet dirty shoes and clothes after your trip.

Wear sun hats, especially on bright sunny days. We carry inexpensive straw hats in our River Shop. Wearing a wool hat on cooler or wet days helps to keep your body warm, and of course, there is nothing like a warm pair of gloves, when paddling early mornings, or in spring or fall.

Use eyeglass straps to secure all eyeglass wear.

Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. Cover up good, we have seen some pretty tough sunburns on the inside of thighs – quite the tender area.

Bring any necessary allergy or other medications with you on the river that you would not want to be without for a few hours. (Example: bee sting kit)

Bring plenty of drinking water in non-breakable containers. Any food or snacks that you take with you should be stored in waterproof containers and secured to the canoe. Please remember that all gear you take with you is at risk of getting lost and wet!

C – Respect other Adventurers!
  • Pack out more than you take-in! Take a trash-bag with you and use it.
  • We have a recycle center set up at the River Shop for you to use.
  • No one impaired by drugs or alcohol will be allowed to go on our trips.
  • We ask that you be responsible and return all equipment in the same condition you received it in.
D – Protect Yourself
  • Eat a good meal before leaving on your river trip.
  • Drink plenty of water while on the river to prevent dehydration.
  • Evaluate your fitness and select the most appropriate trip for you and your group.
  • Notify us in advance of physical or other disabilities that someone in your party may have which may require special arrangements with us.
E – Extras to Bring

There are several optional items you may want to consider such as: small first aid kit, insect repellent, kneepads (for kneeling in canoe), fishing gear, whistle for use in emergencies. We love to take binoculars, but store them in a dry bag. Take these items at your own risk. Non-waterproof cameras we leave behind!

While on the River

  • Leave your PFD on at all times, even when swimming.
  • Never dive head first into the water.
  • Respect private property. Do not trespass.
  • Respect fisherman. Paddle to the shore opposite of their lines and pass quietly.
  • Keep your boat under control. Control must be good enough to reach shore.
  • When paddling in a group, assign a canoe to lead and a sweep canoe to paddle in the rear. Experienced paddlers should hold both the lead and sweep positions.
  • Be sure to keep an appropriate distance between canoes. A good rule of thumb is to keep the canoe behind you in sight. If they lag behind, pull over and wait.
  • Keep a look out for river hazards and avoid them. Walk around any hazards in which you have doubts.
  • It is recommended that you do not paddle alone. Bring your friends.

Upon arrival at the take-out.

Unload all you gear and carry it to the top of the steps. Set it out of the way, out of the dirt. The River Host will help you carry the boats to the top of the steps, load it up, and bring you back to the river shop. Make sure you collect all your gear.

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