Whitewater Rafting FAQ

Do we need Reservations?

While we do take walk-ins and last minute reservations, we strongly suggest that you book your trip as far in advance as possible. Our Michigan rafting trips fill up quickly, especially during the peak rafting season of Memorial Day through Labor Day. Some trips we offer are by Reservation only, please check each rivers trip description for specific details.

Is rafting dangerous?

Rafting is thrilling, exciting, wet, wild and unbelievably fun. However, as with all adventure sports, there is inherent and assumed risk involved. Risk contributes to the excitement, and is one of the reasons people enjoy rafting at all levels. The guides working for Northwoods Adventures are trained to minimize and manage risks, and statistically speaking, you’re safer in a raft than in your car.

Safe Rafting

Safety is our #1 concern at Northwoods Adventures

One government report noted that the injury rate for whitewater rafting is similar to that for bowling! The most common injuries on rafting trips are sunburn and injuries that occur on land, especially getting into and out of the boats. Despite our training and risk management attempts, things can happen, because nothing is safe, especially not rafting, even though we try really hard to ensure your safety, we simply cannot make that claim.

Will I fall out of the boat? What should I do if I do?

Plan “A” is always to stay in the boat, but believe it or not, many people love falling out of the raft, after the fact. It’s exciting, but it can be disorienting and a little overwhelming at first. Many people have taken multiple trips and never fallen in. Some people swim on their first trip. It’s all a part of rafting. Before you go on any trip, you’ll be given extensive instructions on what to do if you fall in, and how to be a smart swimmer. Follow your guide’s instructions, and your “swim” could be the most exciting part of your trip and a great story to tell your friends afterwards!

If I can’t swim, can I still go rafting?

Yes. Everyone on commercial rafting trips wears a coast guard approved ‘life vest’ or personal flotation device (PFD). This critical piece of equipment is designed to aid in keeping you afloat in the event that you find yourself in the river. Many non-swimmers go on rafting trips, and they have a great time. Your guides will give you an in depth and engaging safety talk before your trip explaining what you should prepare for and do in the event you fall out of the raft. Your guide is trained in whitewater rescue and will work with the rest of your guide team to ensure that you are able to feel comfortable with the whitewater conditions on your trip. We are willing to get in the river with you in the flatwater and give you some pointers on swimming techniques if you would like. All non-swimming folks should inform their guide on the trip.

How fit should I be to go rafting?

All of our Piers Gorge and Menominee River trips use paddle rafts. This means that rafters will be an active source of power to move the boat through the rapids and you will need to learn easy commands from your guides to help maneuver the boat as it moves downstream. You should be reasonably healthy, and must be able to fit into the life vests supplied by us. Paddling can sometimes be tiring, but your guides will instruct you on paddling techniques which are lots of fun to learn. If you’re in doubt about your fitness to go rafting check with your doctor before you go.

What should I bring and wear?

Take a set of dry clothes and flip-flops to change into after your Menominee River rafting adventure. Please see our What to Wear page for complete details.

I have a family with young children, can they go rafting?

Group of Rafters

We welcome all rafters, age restrictions are specific to each river

Yes. There are, however, age restrictions specific to each river trip, so please check into the details for the trip you’re interested in and contact us with any questions or concerns.

I am a senior citizen, can I go rafting?

Many healthy people of all ages, including spry folks in their 70′s and 80′s, enjoy rafting at all levels.

How early should we arrive beforehand?

Please arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your trip departure. If you are not familiar with the area you may want to allow some extra time before your trip departure time. Make sure to get good directions before you leave home. Somehow every once in a while people end up at the wrong rafting company but have had plenty of time to correct the error and arrive at the right location with time to spare. FYI: Be sure to take your reservation number and info with you. All trips leave our outpost at their scheduled departure times, if you are late you have missed the trip. Make sure you are familiar with our trip policies.

What happens on a typical rafting trip?

Rafters Carrying a Raft

Rafters helping with a raft

Your trip begins when you meet us at our Iron Mountain outpost at check in time. We will hand out and collect your release forms and distribute rental gear if necessary. Then everyone gets geared up and loaded on the bus which will transport you to the “put in”. The Trip Leader will deliver a safety talk en route – a vital 20 minute discussion about how to be safe on the water, the TL will then assign you a guide. At the put-in we move quickly to get out on the river, after you have your group photo’s taken, you’ll head over to your rafting guide and help carry rafts (many hands make light work), once the rafts are on the river, so are you. You’ll receive a paddle talk, learn to paddle as a team and be rafting before you know it. Then you’ll head on down the river, play games, do teamwork activities, shoot the breeze, learn a little, enjoy the scenery, see some wildlife and have the ‘time of your life-jackets’!

How many people fit in a raft?

Our paddlerafts typically seat 7-8 people and a guide, this is because we run smaller rafts and are adamant about not overloading them as a matter of safety and social responsibility.

Do you take photo’s? Can I bring my camera?

We will have a photographer take pictures in the rapids during your trip. These photos will be for sale when you return, and are posted on our website for online purchasing. These are professional quality pictures and usually come out pretty nice. This is a great option if you don’t want to fool around with your own waterproof camera, which you are more than welcome to bring.

Should I tip my guide?

Yes, please do. Your guide works hard to ensure that you have a fun, yet safe Michigan rafting adventure, and they appreciate being tipped. If you feel your guide has done a good job at keeping you entertained and sharing the wonderful river environment with you, feel free to tip them. $5 to $10 per person is widely accepted as the industry norm; tipping is always appreciated but never expected.