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Is There a Weight and Age Limit for Whitewater Rafting?

a raft on the water

Whitewater rafting is fun for everyone, but there are a few exceptions regarding age and weight restrictions. To be able to raft with most commercial outfitters, you must meet some requirements. This blog post will give you all the information you need about weight restrictions and age limits for whitewater rafting.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Go Whitewater Rafting?

When you raft with Colorado Whitewater Rafting, there are different age restrictions depending on your route. The minimum age for most trips is 5 years old. This includes half-day and full-day trips.

Half-Day Trips with Kids (Minimum Age 5)

Our half-day trips provide lots of thrills for youngsters. The Shoshone rapids offer a nice collection of Class III rapids with some Class IV lines that are splashier. Colorado River rapids like Baptism, Tuttle’s Tumble, Tombstone, The Wall, and Maneater give ample thrills mixed with the breathtaking natural beauty of the majestic Glenwood Canyon.

Our most popular adventure is the 3-hour rafting trip that starts at our riverside facility. Kids love this run. We first head about 9 miles upstream to the Shoshone Rapids in Glenwood Canyon on the Colorado River for an exciting start. As the river calms down, your guide will tell you about the incredible history of Glenwood Canyon and the Colorado River. When the current is low, the natural hot spring flows directly into the river, and we typically stop for a dip. The family-friendly tour ends at our facility’s private river ramp, where you can walk from the raft to your car.

Full-Day Trips with Kids (Minimum Age 5)

If you want to double your fun, consider a full-day outing on the Shoshone with your family. Children as young as age 5 can participate in all-day rafting adventures. Our 6-hour full-day tour begins upstream, just like our half-day trips. We stop for a hot lunch at our private riverside picnic spot about halfway through the journey. In the afternoon, we recommend checking out the inflatable kayaks provided. We have single-person and two-person kayaks suitable for kids or couples. Enjoy the beautiful scenery on this gentler second stretch of river before you splash down the South Canyon rapids one last time. Afterward, you can take a short shuttle ride back to our facility to view photos from your trip.

a group of people standing next to a child

Short & Mild Trips with Kids (Minimum Age 2)

Want to go rafting with kids under the age of 5 or less than 50 pounds? Our Short & Mild Rafting Trips are ideal for anyone looking for a gentler experience or trying rafting for the first time. This tour is for families with children 2 years and older. We recommend the half-day rafting trip for families with children over 5 years old. This fun, scenic float led by our experienced guides will keep everyone happy and safe. The easy Class II rapids are terrific for younger kids or those who want to enjoy the river without getting wet.

The most exciting rapids, South Canyon, can reach Class III during the June runoff. After about 1.5 hours of floating, it’s only a 12-minute shuttle ride back to our home base, making this the perfect first river experience for youngsters.

Extreme Series Trips (Minimum Age 13)

Our more extreme tours have a minimum age of 13 years old. Extreme trips use our smallest rafts for maximum excitement and fun. Riding the Shoshone is a staff favorite and one of our most exciting adventures; you’ll go through all the rapids, including Baptisms, Tuttle Tumbles, Tombstones, Walls, and Cannibals. Smaller rafts make the whitewater more challenging and are great for smaller groups. Our 12-foot rafts typically hold 3-5 guests, so your family can have its own raft. Keep in mind that you may get wet on this trip, so it’s only suitable for guests who are prepared to swim in Class IV rapids.

a group of people riding skis on a raft

Is There a Weight Limit for Whitewater Rafting?

There is no minimum weight for any trip with Colorado Whitewater Rafting. However, the maximum weight is 375 pounds. Even if you are otherwise in good health, your weight can affect the safety of your rafting trip. Class III and higher rapids are challenging and require balance, strength, and stamina to paddle successfully. Some of the more difficult rapids can include rough waves, boulders, obstacles, and even waterfalls. These challenges significantly increase your risk factors if you weigh over 375 pounds.

Here are a few examples of why someone who is overweight may not be able to whitewater raft:

An Unbalanced Raft

Overweight people can cause the raft to tip to one side, which needs to be balanced by placing more people on the other side. Otherwise, the raft may head downstream with a tilt to one side. Neither is optimal.

Life Jackets Don’t Fit Properly

When overweight rafters with bloated bellies go into the water, their life jackets tend to end up over their faces and heads. This can be dangerous because life jackets are designed to keep your head and face above the water. Life jackets are essential equipment for whitewater rafting trips. They’re something you don’t want to be without while cruising the river.

Overweight rafters may also discover they can’t fully buckle their life jacket. In this case, the jacket may not function fully as a flotation device.

Helmets May Not Fit

Essential safety gear, like helmets, may not fit overweight rafters. The helmet you get from the rafting company must fit snugly on your head. If the helmet is too loose, it can move when it hits a hard object like a rock, causing a head injury. If the helmet is too small, you may not be able to fit it under your chin.


Paddling tricky rapids requires a lot of arm and upper body strength. Everyone is expected to paddle in the raft. Overweight rafters may be out of shape and not capable of keeping up.

Maneuvering Obstacles

Heavier rafters may cause the raft to bottom out over obstacles or cause the raft to get stuck on rocks.

Going Overboard

Heavier people are more likely to fall overboard in challenging rapids.

Getting Back In The Raft

If a heavier person falls overboard, those on the raft must pull them back on the raft. Depending on the weight of that person, it may not be possible to get them back on the raft quickly.


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