Updated: May 25
More and more people are getting on the river and we couldn't be more excited to welcome new people into the river community! Whether you're new to the rafting community or an experienced river runner, here are some things to keep in mind as more of us get out and enjoy our rivers.
Protection: Leave No Trace
Rivers give us the ability to access places that otherwise couldn't be reached. That's why it's so important for us to take steps to protect them. Whether you're new to the river community (welcome!) or a long-time river runner, please join us in protecting our rivers so future generations can experience what we get to today. Here are some things you can do to minimize the impact your exploration has on the river and surrounding ecosystem.
Avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate. The sunscreen you wear ends up in our waterways so do the right thing and opt for a brand that has stepped up to remove toxic ingredients from their products. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are two chemicals that have been identified as the most harmful to rivers, lakes, and oceans. They're so toxic to aquatic life and water ecosystems that Hawaii has banned the use of products that contain these ingredients. Sooper Goop is a great go-to.
Use River-Safe Soaps. Bring natural eco-friendly soaps on camping trips and river trips. The majority of soaps have chemicals in them that are highly toxic to aquatic life. But today, many alternatives are free of phosphate, surfactants, triclosan and anti-bacterial ingredients. Oars.com has a great list of eco-friendly soaps that will get you clean without harming rivers. You can also check out products from our partner Alpine Provisions.
Keep Trash Out of Rivers and Tie Things Down: It sucks when people leave trash at campsites and it shouldn't be up to you to clean up after their mess. But doing so keeps trash out of rivers. This is so important because trash in rivers is a leading cause of death in water wildlife and trash leaches toxins into our rivers that damage the health of river ecosystems. Please pick up trash even if it's not yours and tie things down so trash doesn't blow away.
Pick Up Discarded Fishing Line: Whether the fishing line you use is biodegradable or not, please pick up the fishing line you discard. Loose fishing line is a leading cause of marine life death because they get tangled in it and starve to death. So sad.
Community: Do Your Part
It's easy and welcomed to embrace the beauty, adventure, and excitement that comes with camping on the river. But don't forget to lend a hand. It takes time to understand the roles people play and the various duties involved in setting up a group camp. I wish I would have known some ways I help the crew without making things more chaotic. Here are some things you can fall back on If you find yourself in a similar boat.
Pickup and condense trash around camp. Carrying everything on rafts means there is a minimal amount of space for trash. Crushing cans and compacting trash is something that is often overlooked but is much appreciated. So is doing a final sweep before you head out to make sure your group doesn't leave anything behind.
Don't forget about group gear: Understand what rafts are carrying group gear and offer to help those rafters load and unload it from their boat before you set up your tent. This is especially helpful if your crew is running behind schedule and you're rushed to set up camp and prep dinner before the sun goes down.
Help with dishes: Some trip leaders assign duties ahead of time, and others ask for help on the fly. Either way, offer to lend a hand. A mistake new river runners make is not offering to help when they notice that someone has been assigned a role or is already doing a task that benefits the entire group. More help means everyone can relax and enjoy the evening sooner. And trust me, you can't go wrong with offering up dish duty.
Etiquette: Rules of the River
Here are some things we wish we would've known on our first river trip.
Don't tinker with other rafts: Don't tinker with boats other than your own. And if you're a passenger on someone's boat – do your best to keep it clean. Many rafters view rafts as their homes on the river.
Be respectful of other campers: Don't be so loud that other campers can't have the experience they want to.
River Right: The boat coming downstream always has the right of way. Stay to the right of the river when you can.
Be respectful of fishers: If you see someone fishing on the river, try to stay away from their line.
Listen: Listen to people who are more experienced than you. If someone tells you to do to something or gives you advice who is an experienced river runner, listen to them. They're just trying to keep you safe. Plus, you'll learn more than you might expect.
Hope to see you on the river!