We headed out to the meeting point to get geared up for our trip. Be sure to confirm where you need to meet for your trip – our location was an hour from Banff. Here we got a safety briefing and geared up for our trip.
We opted to do the 2-3 level rapids – since you had to be over 12 to do the level 4 rapids. They offer a few different trips but with kids under 12 this was the only option for us.
When you visit Banff be sure to add rafting to your Banff itinerary!
Check In And Getting Our Gear
When we got there we had to wait until the time they told us to be there to check in to check in. They wouldn’t do it early. It was fine it was on a really pretty lake so we were able to take in the views while we waited. They also have picnic tables there.
Next up they check you in – this goes way easier if you have filled out your release forms online before hand.
Then they give instructions on what you will be wearing:
- Water booties
- Wet Suit
- Wind blocker jacket
- Life jacket
- And a fleece for the little kids
They also talk about the trip and what it will look like. A 15 minute bus ride to the river spot, a 10 minute safety talk when we get there, a 7 minute ride back to our car.
You can’t bring anything with you. They have a bin for car keys and highly discourage bringing a cell phone with. Even if you have a waterproof case. Given the rapids we did on our trip I do agree with this.
If you want to bring a camera you can bring a go-pro and they do have helmets with a spot for go-pros on it. But even with that they said there is a chance you can lose it!
We made the mistake of not wearing bathing suits. . . it did say it in the email but I totally missed it. We have done other rides like this and we never wore a wetsuit – but I didn’t realize this one was definitely more rapids heavy and we got really wet!!
Plus the water was cool and the weather in Banff can be unpredictable. We were lucky with a sunny day but I bet there are days when it is freezing and they still go out!
We got in line and they asked our shoe size and beyond that they sized us up and gave us the size suit and jacket they felt we needed.
You could either head to their changing tent or go change by your car. We went to the car as we had to figure out what we would do without suits. We opted to just all go with our underwear (and bra) under the wet suit.
It worked out fine! But a bathing suit definitley would have been better.
Once we were all dressed and everything was locked away in our cars we put our keys in the bin and loaded the bus.
Getting To The River
On the bus the guide walked us through a few more safety things and talked to us about our life jackets and helmets and how to fit those. When we got to the launch point the river guides were all there to check our jackets and helmets to make sure everything was secure.
After that we walked down to the launch – on the way they stopped us and we got our pictures taken.
From there we had another 10 minute safety talk about what to do if you fall in the water. Yes, there was a lot of prep work to go on the about 90 minute trip on the water. But I promise it is worth it and you definitely want the wet suit on!!
We got our guide – NOTE: if you are going with a group where people signed up on their own make sure to tell the guide you want to be together. There were 10 of us in our boat but some had just 8. That does not include our guide. With the guide it was 11 people.
In The Water
We walked down and walked in the water to get to our boat. The guide explained who would go where and we got in. From there he gave us instructiosn about paddleing and off we went.
We were on the water with 4 other boats. And they did keep us together the whole time. Which was good. Just in case anyone went in we had a lot of people to help get the person out!!
Right away you start to hit rapids and kept getting to rapids for the first 45 minutes. Some of them were really big! Knox and Inga sat in the front and they got drenched a ton of times and loved it!!
At one point we went back into a rapid and our guide made a huge wave come up and over us. It was definitely more rapids than we have done in the past but was so much fun!!
The other boats will also try to splash you with their paddles and vice versa.
Our gude was a lot of fun and we did multiple paddle high fives and I know he added some excitement with spinning us around and hitting the rapids a certain way.
Inga and Knox loved the front and eventually Melia, Cannon and Ivan got a turn up there too.
It was a workout and we did a lot of paddling but our guide said we were a great paddling team.
2nd Half Of The Trip
The second half is mostly a float with just a few little bumpy rapids. At the very end they give you a chance to get into the water if you want to. It was freezing but Cannon, Carson and Ivan jumped in!!!
After that they were freezing (and the sun had gone behind the clouds) but we were close to the end. At the end we got out and helped lift our raft up onto the tow trailer before heading back to the bus.
Once we reached the original check in place we took off all of our gear and they had hot chocolate, granola bars and fruit snacks waiting for everyone.
There was also a photographer on the route that grabbed pictures in a few places. You can see the free lower quality ones on their site in 48 hours or else pay $20 for the usb of the high quality pictures.
It is recommended to tip your guide if you had a good time! We did and we did tip him!
It was a fun day!!
Banff National Park Itinerary
Additional Activities You Don’t Want To Miss In Banff National Park
There are so many great things to do in Banff National Park. Here are a few we don’t think you should miss.
Banff Gondola – we had an awesome time going up on the Banff Gondola. We loved taking in amazing views and hike to the top of Sulphur Mountain!
Lake Minnewanka Cruise – this 1 hour cruise will take you out on the beautiful waters of Lake Minnewanka.
Horseback Riding In Banff National Park – We did a 1 hour long horseback riding adventure along the Bow River and loved the horses and the views!
Golden Skybridge – Drive a couple hours from Banff and spend the afternoon on suspension bridges, zip-lining and a ropes course!
Johnston Canyon Lower Falls Hike – this short but beautiful hike is a top hike to do in Banff. Don’t miss it!
Columbia Icefield Adventure – Walk on a glacier and out on a glass bottom skywalk over a canyon!
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**We were hosted by Banff & Lake Louise Tourism for our horseback rides with Banff Trail Riders. All opinions are our own.
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