What to know before you go!
So you say you’re going whitewater rafting and you don’t know what to do!
Here are some answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions at River and Trail Outfitters. Just follow these simple hints on these Whitewater FAQs to keep warm and have fun! Notice I did not say DRY.
River Levels and Flows
River and Trail Outfitters in Knoxville, Maryland uses the following river gauges to determine levels for its trips in the Harpers Ferry, West Virginia area. We hope you will make use of them too!
- USGS Real-Time Hydrologic Data
- USGS Current Conditions Maryland
- AWA River Gauges
- Maryland – Hydrological forecasts
What Do I Need To Know?
Do we need any paperwork?Answer: Yes. Before each activity a waiver MUST be filled out. A new waiver must be filled out and signed for each day and for each activity before participating. Waivers can be found under the waivers link on our website. A copy of the waiver can be mailed or faxed upon request. Minors Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor and must have a parent guardian permission form filled out prior to each activity. The form is available online or can be faxed or mailed upon request.
Are videos and photos available?Answer: Currently we do not video our trips or have a photographer. We do sell a waterproof camera at our outfitter store in Knoxville, MD where our Harpers Ferry rafting trips check in.
Where do I sit to stay dry?Answer: The Bus. You are going to get wet. If you somehow manage to get through every rapid dry, someone is bound to take pity and dump a bailer full of water on you!
Where can I put my beer so it does not get lost?Short answer: At home. Long answer: Save the bottled fun for after the run. If you show up for the trip intoxicated or on drugs, you will not be allowed to go and your money will not be refunded. Drunk or drugged boaters pose a serious danger to themselves, our other customers, and our staff.
What about my physical & medical conditions?Answer: Please inform your reservation specialist before arrival of any physical or medical conditions of anyone in your group. Also inform your trip leader prior to the trip. We highly recommend you consult a physician prior to participating in our activities if you have any concern. We advise all ASTHMATICS to bring their inhalers. We also advise that anyone who has allergies requiring an epi-pin to bring it.Note: We reserve the right to refuse anyone participating in our adventure activities due to physical, mental or size limitations that, in our opinion, would expose that person or group to extreme risk.
What are the age limits?Answer: At River and Trail we have suggested ages for each of our trips. Age limits will change depending on water levels and trip formats.
- Rafting, Shenandoah 7 yrs
- Rafting, North Branch 10 yrs
- Kayak Lesson beg. 8 yrs
- Kayak Lesson interm. 12 yrs
- Sit-on-tops 12 yrs
- Antietam Tubing 7 yrs
- Bike Rentals 12 yrs
- Hikes 7 yrs
*Minimum chest size for a Type V PFD is 24 inches. Maximum chest size is 54 inches. Minimum weight for River and Trail Trips is 50bs.
Do I have to wear a life vest?Answer: YES. Always wear your life vest. Not only does this add another layer to keep you warm, it also keeps you floating should you decide to leave the boat mid trip. Our U.S. Coast Guard approved PFDs are required by law, our insurance, and our company policy. We will provide you with an approved life vest, so please do not bring one with you.
Should I bring my camera?Answer: Like you, your camera will get wet. Things also have a way of going into the river, never to be seen again. This being the case, we would suggest a sturdy strap and a waterproof camera. We do sell waterproof cameras in our outfitter store.
Should I bring my cell phone, wallet or car keys on the water?Answer: As stated above “Like you, your cell phone, wallet and keys will get wet. Things also have a way of going into the river, never to be seen again.” This being the case, we recommend that you DO NOT BRING THESE ITEMS ON THE TRIP WITH YOU unless you have a completely waterproof container. Our guided trips carry cell phones for emergency situations. We suggest that you lock your personal belongings in your car trunk and give your keys to our shop staff. Watches can be worn if they are waterproof. Keep in mind that River & Trail is not responsible for any of these items mentioned that are damaged by water if you choose to take them on the trip with you. We try to keep dry boxes and bags for cell phones stocked in our shop.
Can I request A Raft Guide?Answer: Yes, just let us know at the time you make your reservation.
How many people to a raft?Answer: Anywhere from 4-6 plus a guide, this depends on water level and group size.
What, when and where are we gonna eat?Answer: A picnic is served water-side on Harpers Ferry rafting, inflatable thrill kat kayak trips , and Antietam tubing. Food is served mid-way to ¾ way down the trip. A typical picnic consists of Water, fruit drink, fried chicken, potato salad, and fruit. Vegetarian alternatives are possible. A barbeque cookout is served on our dam release rafting trips. Please see the website link “Group Information Packet” or “Planning your trip” for our fantastic picnic options!
How do I get to that road across from Harpers Ferry?Comment: We know this question has nothing to do with Whitewater, but it is our most frequently asked question.
Answer: Turn onto Keep Tryst Road from U.S. 340, the flashing yellow lights just on the Maryland side of the Potomac River Bridge. Turn onto Sandy Hook Road from Keep Tryst. After you pass through a long row of houses on the right, Sandy Hook Md, you are on Harpers Ferry Road. Do not park in the school bus turn-around at the end of Sandy Hook. There is parking near the C & O Canal access points just after the bridge.
Since I am going to get wet, is it at least OK if I wear my warm sweats?Answer: DO NOT WEAR COTTON ON COLD DAYS. ON HOT DAYS IT HELPS TO KEEP YOU COOL WHEN IT’S WET.
Cotton wicks the heat away from you when it gets wet and will cause you to become hypothermic. Wear wool, or PolyProtm — these will keep the heat in. Sweats are most definitely out, until after you get back to dry land.
What can I drink to stay warm?Answer: Drink warm liquids. These will help you replace lost body heat and warm you from the inside. Please note that warm food will have the opposite effect. A good hot meal an hour or so before the trip would, however, give you energy reserves to keep you warm.
How do I know what to wear?Answer: Know the weather conditions.
Being prepared is the best way to keep warm. Check to see what the water and air temperatures are. If you add the air temp, adjusted for wind chill, and the water temp together and they equal less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, you are in prime hypothermia conditions. You can get current weather, water level, and water temperatures from the National Weather Service and other river forecasting links shown above. Our Outfitter Store will be happy to rent you a wetsuit when the weather conditions call for it , but please reserve them in advance (sometimes they are even included, so check your specific tour). You must also wear shoes.
If you still have a question, just e-mail it to us and we will have one of our experts send you a reply. Please note that your reply will probably not be instantaneous, especially in the off season.