What should I wear while rafting?

What to wear rafting depends on what rafting trip you’re going on, time of year, and current weather conditions. But some basic rafting clothing guidelines apply to every rafting trip. To help you make your rafting clothing selection easier, here’s a list of what you, personally, should wear and what Timberline Tours provides.

What to wear for all rafting trips with Timberline Tours:

Wear shoes that stay securely on your feet and that you don’t mind getting wet. Sport sandals that strap on, tennis shoes, and water shoes all work very well. Flip flops are NOT recommended.

To wear under wetsuit -or- to wear with personal nylon SHORTS OR PANTS. Quick-dry fabrics work best; avoid cotton, as it retains water and will make you cold on the river. If a wetsuit is necessary, Timberline Tours will provide it. Generally, it is more comfortable to wear a swimsuit underneath a wetsuit, so bring one along to wear underneath your wetsuit or other quick-dry clothing.

Made of quick-dry fabric to wear over swimsuit, if desired. Tight-fitting shirts work best underneath wetsuits if they are required for your trip (in which case, the wetsuit will be provided by Timberline Tours). Choose the type of shirt you wear based on your level of comfort with sun exposure. Tank tops are great for tans, but if you sunburn easily, choose a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt instead.

with securable strap.


such as lightweight fleece or polypropylene (synthetic layer) or quick-dry clothing.

Different river sections have different gear requirements. Find out more about optional versus mandatory rafting gear such as wetsuits, splash jackets, and helmets here in our blog post, What to Wear Rafting.

What rafting gear does Timberline Tours supply?

While different river sections have different gear requirements, Timberline Tours provides the following free of charge:

• Wetsuits (when necessary)
• Splash jackets (when necessary)
• Helmets (when necessary, not required on Class I or II whitewater rafting trips)
• Paddles
• Life jackets / PFD (required and provided for all rafting trips)

What should I wear on a guided jeep tour?

What to wear on a jeep tour depends on the season and current weather conditions. Even at the height of summer season, it can be chilly in the mornings in the mountains, and the afternoon sun can be intense at higher altitudes. Rainstorms can blow in for the afternoon and then be gone in a flash, so be prepared for a variety of conditions.

Due to the changing nature of mountain weather, we recommend packing jeep tour clothes and accessories with these ideas in mind:

Choose a thin short-sleeved or long-sleeved base layer, and then add on a few layers–such as a fleece mid-layer, a vest, or a jacket–that you can shed once it warms up. Having a rain jacket is nice, but our jeep guides will close up the jeep if it begins to rain to help you stay warm and dry.

In order to take in scenic views on some of the best jeep trails, short hikes are required, so wear sturdy shoes that will protect your toes while moving over rocky or uneven terrain.


Bring along any medications that you think you might use, including medications for allergies and bee stings.

Sunglasses and a sun hat or cap will help protect your eyes and face from the sun’s intense rays, and a beanie-style cap will help you keep warm in cooler spring and fall temperatures. Consider bringing along gloves to keep your hands warm in the cooler season.

Bring along necessary personal items such as camera, wallet, sunscreen, and lip balm.

What do different river class ratings mean?

Timberline Tours follows the American Whitewater Association’s International Scale of River Difficulty, which rates river difficulty on a I to VI scale, ranging from Class I at the easiest end of the spectrum to Class VI, the most difficult.

Timberline Tours rafting trips range from Class II to Class V:

Class II: Scenic, splashy float
Class III: Intermediate Intensity
Class IV: Advanced, high intensity
Class V: Expert, high intensity

Find out more about what you can expect encounter at each level as well as what Timberline Tours rafting trips fit in each of the above categories here in our blog post, River Rafting Class Ratings Explained.

What age and weight minimums apply for rafting trips?

Rafting trip age and weight minimums help protect the safety of our guides and guests. The below trips generally adhere to the following guidelines but can vary depending on water level. Please call our offices to discuss age requirements closer to your trip date to confirm: (970) 476-1414.

Browns Canyon
Minimum age: 8
Minimum weight: 50

Gore Canyon
Minimum age: 18
Minimum weight: 100 pounds

Gore Creek
Minimum age: 8
Minimum weight: 50

Lower Eagle River
Minimum age: 8
Minimum weight: 50 pounds

The Numbers
Minimum age: 16
Minimum weight: 100

Pine Creek and The Numbers
Minimum age: 16
Minimum weight: 100

Rafting and Dinosaur Discovery
Minimum age: 6

Rafting and Wine Tasting
Minimum age: 21

Shoshone and Shoshone Triple Thriller
Minimum age: 8
Minimum weight: 50

Note: The Shoshone Skip the Rapids trip is appropriate for children under the age of 8 years old, but the weight minimum for this trip is 30 pounds. Please confirm with our office to make sure that a Skip the Rapids options is available.

Upper Eagle River / Dowd Chute
Minimum age: 16
Minimum weight: 100 pounds

How long is the average rafting trip with Timberline Tours?

Rafting trip time variables include transportation time from Vail and on-river time. Swifter currents often make early-season trips (June and July) go more quickly while late-season trips (August and September) may go more slowly. Other variables—including the potential for swimmers—can add to trip time.

Our Arkansas River trips (Browns Canyon, The Numbers, and Pine Creek) involve an incredibly scenic drive from Vail to Timberline’s Arkansas River boathouse in Granite, Colorado. This drive can take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes each way; additional time is then involved shuttling to and from the river.

These following rafting trip times are approximate door-to-door times; please call our office if you have questions closer to your trip date: (970) 476-1414.

Browns Canyon: 9 hours

Gore Canyon: 9 hours

Gore Creek: 2 hours

Lower Eagle River: 4.5 hours

The Numbers: 7 hours

The Numbers Express: 3 hours river time, boathouse to boathouse (afternoon-only trip, self-transport required)

Pine Creek and The Numbers: 8 hours

Rafting and Dinosaur Discovery: 6.5 hours

Rafting and Wine Tasting: 5 hours

• Morning Shoshone trip: 6.5 hours
• Afternoon Shoshone trip: 5.5 hours
• Afternoon Shoshone Triple Thriller: 5.5 hours

Upper Colorado River: 4.5 hours

Upper Eagle River / Dowd Chute: 4 hours

How much time does it take to go on a Timberline Tours jeep tour?

Timberline tours offers morning and afternoon jeep tours. Door-to-door trip time depends on trail conditions and trip type, but jeep tours typically take approximately 4 hours. McAllister Gulch, our most adventurous and rugged Vail jeep tour, takes approximately 4.5 hours.

When and why are wetsuits required on some Timberline Tours rafting trips?

Timberline Tours provides required wetsuits for all of its Class IV and Class V rafting trips. Water temperature and whitewater intensity are among factors that determine whether or not wetsuits are required for other trips. Different river sections have different gear requirements, and Timberline Tours will provide wetsuits, splash jackets, and helmets at no cost when they’re needed for a trip. Timberline also provides required personal floatation devices (PFDs, or life jackets) for all of its trips.

Find out more about optional versus mandatory rafting gear such as wetsuits, splash jackets, and helmets here in our blog post, What to Wear Rafting.

Why are individual jeep trails not guaranteed at time of booking?

Seasonality, trail conditions, day-of-trip weather, and group dynamics, are all factors that determine what jeep trails are available on any given day. For this reason, we can’t guarantee at the time of booking that a specific trail will be available on the day of the trip. Timberline Tours’ expert guides work with guests to choose the best jeep tour based on conditions and group desires—and guest input is very important to us.

From the moment you’re picked up for a jeep tour, guides will want to hear what you’re most excited about exploring, and they’ll give you some options to consider based on that day’s open trails, weather conditions, recent weather events, and recently reported opportunities for wildlife and wildflower viewing. Timberline Tours customizes its jeep tours to meet and exceed guest expectations on the day of the trip, so that’s why we value guest input from the moment you book your trip until even after you’ve returned home.

What do I need to know about rafting safety?

Timberline Tours’ office staff and guides make rafting safety a top priority, from offering pre-trip consultation and advice to getting everyone safely outfitted with rafting gear and out on the river. We also know that safety is an essential part of any memorable trip. Timberline’s experienced whitewater rafting guides go through ongoing training to keep their skills sharp, and guides lead an interactive safety talk before all rafting trips that includes an overview of rafting safety, paddling tips, rescue scenarios, and more.

While your guides will teach you what you need to know about rafting safety on the day of your trip, we’ve created a rafting safety page on our website that includes videos and covers several key topics that you can review in advance:

Whitewater Rafting Safety Overview
Common Paddling Commands
Vail Rafting Paddling Tips
How to Wear Life Jackets
What to Wear Vail Rafting
River Rafting Class Ratings Explained
Whitewater Rafting Rescue with Help Techniques
Whitewater Rafting Self-Rescue Techniques
Whitewater Rafting Throw Rope Rescue Techniques

What can I learn about rafting paddling in advance of a trip?

Timberline’s rafting guides will teach you what you need to know about rafting paddling before your trip, but it’s helpful to come prepared. We’ve created some great blog posts that offer an overview of essentials, including Rafting Paddling Tips and Common Paddling Commands. Our Rafting Paddling Techniques video also includes some tips that you can preview before your trip. You can also find more paddling and safety tips here on the Timberline Tours rafting safety page.

Can I guarantee that my family and friends all get in the same boat on a rafting trip?

On commercial, public rafting trips, we do our best to keep groups together, but the safety of all rafters may require guides to determine how the group is divided between and within each boat, especially on more adventurous Class IV and V trips.

On a private rafting trip, you have a better chance of guaranteeing that your group can stay together in the same boat, but if multiple boats are needed for a private trip, guides maintain the right to assign guests to boats with safety in mind.

How can I book a private rafting trip or jeep tour?

Timberline Tours loves customizing private trips and adventures! Private trips are great for corporate outings, birthdays, anniversaries, wedding parties, and special events. Find out more on our corporate events and special events website pages.

To request a private rafting trip or jeep tour, give us a call: (970) 476-1414.

How can I work with Timberline Tours to customize a trip, event, or adventure?

Timberline Tours works with individuals and event planners to create custom adventures. Options include a jeep scavenger hunt available for those who might not want to venture out on the river, and custom rafting trips can range from adventures that include riverside wine and cheese events to pre-wedding celebrations for your favorite bachelors and bachelorettes.

We love adding memorable touches to private trips, corporate outings, and special events. Find out more on our corporate events and special events website pages.

Give Timberline Tours a call to customize your mountain adventure: (970) 476-1414.

How can I book private transportation for weddings or group events with Timberline Tours?

Need transport for a group event? Good news: The quality vehicle fleet that Timberline Tours uses for its Vail rafting adventures is also available to serve as your Vail transportation solution. If you need transport for a special event in the Vail area such as a wedding, anniversary, birthday party or any other group gathering, give us a call in advance to arrange your ride: (970) 476-1414.

Find more about Timberline transportation here in our blog, Vail Transportation Solutions.

What do I need to know about rafting while pregnant?

Timberline Tours requires a doctor’s approval if you are pregnant and would like to go on a rafting trip of Class III rating (intermediate intensity) or higher. We understand that each person and each pregnancy is different, so we ask that you consult with your physician to determine what level of activity is appropriate for you and your pregnancy. All river class ratings are listed on our website’s whitewater rafting trips pages. If you are unsure of the river class rating of a rafting trip, please call our office for details: (970) 476-1414.

Find out more about river class ratings here in our blog, River Class Ratings Explained.