Ask Betty - Frequently Asked Questions The All-American Rafting Girl answers your rafting questions.

Born and bred in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Betty is a true All-American girl. Betty grew up in the rafting industry - rafting the Snake River. She has a love for Jackson Hole and the river. Meet Betty at Mad River.

Do you have a question for Betty? Send your question to rafting@mad-river.com with the subject "ask betty" and I'll do my best to get your question answered quickly.

How old does a child have to be to go rafting?

Whitewater Trips: Children must be six years of age or older on the date of the trip. Please do mind our recommended ages for each of our whitewater boat sizes.

Scenic Floats: Children must be four years of age or older, on the date of the trip, to go on a scenic float.

What is the difference between a scenic float and a whitewater trip?

Level of Adventure: A whitewater trip has a much higher level of adventure. You will experience many bumps and splashes as you travel down the river and through the rapids. Our whitewater section has Class I-III rapids. We consider the scenic float a class I float. This means it is a flat-water float with minimal bumps, and splashes. We consider this a dry trip, though your feet may get wet and you may experience minor splashes. Please note that on all our trips you are on an ever-changing river, and you always have the possibility to become fully immersed.

Location: All our whitewater trips take place south of the Town of Jackson. They launch from the West Table Boat Ramp and travel eight river miles (about 1.5 hours on water) to the Sheep Gulch Boat Ramp. Our scenic float trips start to the west of the Town of Jackson, at the Wilson Boat Ramp, traveling 13 river miles south (about 2 hours on water) to the South Park Boat Ramp where your trip will complete.

Age Minimums: All guests must be six years of age or older to experience the whitewater. All guests must be four years of age or older to experience the scenic float.

What are the differences between each whitewater boat size?

We run three different boat sizes on the whitewater section. That means you have lots of options to find the perfect boat for your group. Our three boat sizes are: Classic Boats (16-man), Small Boats (8-man), and Super Small Boats (6-man).

Classic Boats: This is our standard raft on the Snake River with a guide on a stern oar frame. With eight paddling positions and eight non-paddling positions (when full) this raft has a seat for everyone. This is our largest boat, which means it is our most stable boat. You will experience more tame hits going through rapids, and less splashes. This boat is great for families with young children, multi-generational groups, large groups, solo travelers looking to join a group, and first-time rafters.

Small Boats: This is our most popular boat, and our Guide's Choice. This boat has a guide on a stern oar frame, and when full has six paddling positions and two non-paddling positions. Being a smaller boat than the Classic, this boat feels more action. The guide relies more on the crew to power this boat. You'll be sure to get wet as you crash through the rapids of the Snake River in this craft. This boat is great for families with older children, groups with mixed levels of adventure seeking, couples, and solo travelers.

Super Small Boats: Our smallest boat means the biggest hits, and the most thrills. The crew is the motor of this boat, as your guide will be paddle guiding. This means they will have the ability to steer the boat but not power the boat forward. The moto “work hard, play hard" definitely fits this boat, but we guarantee your hard work will pay off with the most epic hits the Snake River has to offer. This boat is great for families with teen or adult children, women's weekends, bro-cations, small groups, and couples.
**Looking to add something special to your Small or Super Small boat river trip? Check out our Cast Iron Riverside Dinner trips.

What class rapids do we float, and what does the classifications mean?

You will cover Class I-III rapids on your whitewater adventure with Mad River; this is considered a “moderate" whitewater trip. The Snake River will sometimes reach Class IV rapids during spring runoff in May and early June. Class I water has minor ripples and splashes. Class II rapids may have waves up to three feet high, occur in wide river channels, and require moderate navigation. Class III rapids are of moderate difficultly, typically occurring in narrow channels, or those containing rocks or pinch points. They may have irregular waves, and require precise maneuvering.

Where do the rafts put in and where do they take out?

Whitewater trips start at the West Table Boat Ramp and end at the Sheep Gulch Boat Ramp.
Scenic Floats start at the Wilson Boat Ramp and end at the South Park Boat Ramp.

How far in advance do we need to make reservations?

We recommend making reservations as soon as you know which date, time, and trip you'd like to go on. Some trips remain available until the day of, however most trips book up quickly. Don't quite have all the details and numbers in line, or worried your friend may flake? No worries! We have a 48-hour (or 72-hour, for groups of 10+) cancellation policy, so you can always make changes up until 48 hours (or 72 hours) before your trip with no financial penalties. Once within our 48-hour (or 72-hour) cancellation period, trips become non-refundable.

What should we wear or bring with us?

Our weather here in Jackson is variable. When dealing with mountain weather you can have anything from 90-degree weather to snow all in one day. Don't worry though, we have gear for most any weather conditions you may encounter on your float trip.

For all trips, both whitewater and scenic, we recommend all clothing be synthetic or wool (no cotton please); footwear that will stay on your feet (no flip-flops), a hat, sunnies with chums, and sunscreen. You may also want to bring along a light snack, water bottle, and towel and/or sweatshirt for the bus ride home. A synthetic/wool t-shirt and shorts should be fine for warmer days. For cooler days, or those of you that run cold we offer rental wetsuits, booties, and wetsuit jackets. We offer complementary splash gear (glorified rain gear) on all our whitewater trips.

For scenic floats, we recommend light synthetic layers that you can remove as it warms up. Your shoes might get slightly wet getting in and out of the boat, so keep that in mind when making your shoe selection for the day. A hat, sunnies with chums, and sunscreen are always recommended.

Can we bring anything on the raft?

Space on the rafts is limited. Each guide will have a dry location for necessary medical supplies; no other items will be allowed. Medical items may be, but are not limited to, diabetic supplies, heart medication, or asthma supplies. Please bring along any necessary medications or medical supplies, and inform your guide of all medical history, injuries, and current illnesses. Guides aren't keen on surprises half way down the river.

What does a typical day look like?

Whitewater Trips: You will check in 30 minutes prior to your departure time at the Mad River Boathouse; 1255 South Highway 89 Jackson, Wyoming 83001. All trips leave promptly at their scheduled departure times, then travel about 30 minutes to the put in at West Table Boat Ramp. You will meet your guides, listen to a safety speech, receive your PFD and splash gear, get divided into groups, and hit the river. You will be on the water for about 1.5 hours, before completing the trip at Sheep Gulch Boat Ramp. You will then have about a 45-minute drive back to the Mad River Boat House. This is the only section of commercially run whitewater in Jackson Hole.

Scenic Trips: You will check in at the Mad River Boathouse 30-minutes prior to your scheduled departure time. You will travel to the Wilson Boat Ramp; about a 15-minute drive. Here you will meet up with your guides for the day, listen to a safety speech, get your gear, on be on your way. You will travel 13 river miles, about two hours, to the South Park Boat Ramp where your trip will come to a close. You will then travel by bus about 15 minutes back to the Mad River Boathouse.

How long does this activity take? How much time will we spend on the water?

Please plan about 3.5 hours door to door for most trips; plan about 4.5 hours door to door for our Cast Iron Lunch or Cast-Iron Dinner trips. The time spent on the water depends on the CFS (cubic feet per second) of the water at the time of your trip. However typically you will spend 1.5 hours on the water for all whitewater trips, and 2 hours on the water for all scenic floats.

What is a class II and III rapid?

A class II or III rapid indicates that it is "moderate" whitewater. You may have easy to moderate waves, some may be irregular. Most rapids may be runnable without scouting but may require precise maneuvers to pass through.

What does CFS mean?

CFS stands for "cubic feet per second", and is the standard measure of volume for rivers within the United States. The CFS of the river section we operate on in the Snake River Canyon generally ranges from 2,500 CFS to 12,000 CFS in normal water conditions during the summer months. During peak run off it can reach 38,000 CFS. To visualize what this looks like, imagine that 1,000 CFS is about the size of a bull elephant. That's like saying that at any point in the river, 2.5 to 12 elephants charge past every second. That's a lot of water!

Where do we eat meals?

For whitewater trips that include a meal you will eat at our exclusive riverside dining site in the Snake River Canyon; the only one in the canyon. This is a riverside meal area located prior to the two biggest rapids of the day; Lunch Counter and Big Kahuna. Our Midday Scenic Float with lunch will be eaten either on the boat as you float or at the end of your trip. All meals are served in areas of river access only, so you will not have access to anything you left on the bus. If you need medication while you eat, please be sure to bring it with you. **Due to the outdoor environment of our river kitchen we are unable to guarantee an allergy free meal. If you have food allergies, feel free to bring along your own meal and your guide will carry it, so you can eat with your group.

I've never rafted before; can I do this?

The Snake River is an excellent river to experience your first rafting trip on. Whether you're feeling adventurous wanting to try a whitewater trip, or are looking for something more subdued like a scenic float, there is a trip to fit almost everyone. Always remember that this is an activity on a wild and scenic river, please make sure you have chosen the appropriate trip for your comfort level. If you are unsure, contact one of our lovely Mad River staff to get advice on what trip may best fit you. P: 307-733-6203 | E: reservations@mad-river.com. Every Mad River staff member is here to ensure that you have a wonderful experience, whether it is your first time or you are a seasoned rafter.

Is it safe?

Rafting is an activity with inherent risks associated with it. We do our best to mitigate risks on all our rafting trips, but can never say that rafting is 100% safe. Being on a wild and scenic river in a mountain region comes with an eve changing setting and environment. Our guides spend a lot of time training and preparing to take guests down the river. We try our best to minimize the risks without changing the nature of the activity. We do our part, and expect that guests do theirs by actively listening to all guide instruction, safety speeches, and asking questions or seeking clarification if something is unclear. A key part to mitigating risk, and giving you peace of mind, is selecting the appropriate trip for you.

Please check out our whitewater page or our scenic floats page to get a better idea of what each trip entails. If you are still unsure do not hesitate to contact our knowledgeable staff at 307-733-6203 or reservations@mad-river.com. So, choose a trip that is right for you and enjoy yourself on the river! Rest assured, your guide will do their best to make sure it is a fun experience for everyone in your group. ** Please remember this is an adventurous and risky activity that can result in injury, or even death.

Where can I see my whitewater rafting photos?

You can visit Snake River Photo to view your rafting photos. There are a number of purchasing options. These photographers took your photo at Big Kahuna/Lunch Counter Rapid in the Snake River Canyon. Contact them directly for assistance.

What is an inherent risk? What are some inherent risks associated with rafting?

Inherent risk is a risk that can not be mitigated without changing the fundamental nature of the activity. Our waiver is a great location to read about the risks associated with this activity. You will have time to review a copy of the document as part of the sign-up process and can cancel at any time with a full refund if you feel uncomfortable participating in rafting. You can see our waiver here.

What do I need to know when the water is high?

We consider highwater to be anything above 14,000 CFS, and adjust our age limits, physical requirements and required equipment accordingly at this point. Typically, we see highwater conditions in May and early June. Following a big winter, we can have highwater conditions into July. Water levels are unpredictable and everchanging. We may need to adjust your trip the day before or even the morning your scheduled departure. Please be patient with our staff, we promise we are not trying to ruin your vacation with our last-minute adjustments or cancellations. It is for your safety, and wellbeing. Our highwater protocols have been compiled and reviewed by guides with over 100 years of collective experience. These are river professionals, many of whom have children. If the professionals wouldn't put their kids on the water, then it's not a good idea for your child to go down the river. Our number one priority is safety and risk management. We have your best interest in mind when we follow our highwater protocols. The inherent risks of rafting are elevated during highwater conditions. We expect all guests to follow safety protocols, activity listen to staff instruction, be honest and forthcoming about their health and fitness levels, and seek clarification when needed. Highwater is an exciting time to head down on the river with a commercial outfitter but, as always with adventurous activities, can result in injury or death.

Can we bring alcohol on our trip or drink prior to the trip?

Mad River has a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use. Partaking in the use of alcohol and/or drugs prior to, or during your trip puts you, and everyone else in your boat at an elevated risk. Mad River staff reserve the right to remove any patron from their scheduled departure if there is suspicion of drugs and/or alcohol. Removal of a guest by a staff member due to suspected drug and/or alcohol use will result in the forfeiture of the trip cost, with no chance to reschedule. Serious infringements of this policy may result in a permanent ban from all future Mad River Boat Trips activities.

Can we bring our own PFDs? (Personal Floatation Device)

No. Our PFDs are equipped with the proper flotation and head pillow required to commercially raft this stretch of river. If you want to raft commercially, you'll have to wear the gear.

What is a safety speech?

The safety speech is an instructional speech given by a guide to the guests prior to getting into the boat, and onto the water. This speech is given to inform guests of the potential risks associated with their trip, how to mitigate those risks, and what to do if something goes wrong. It is critical that all guests actively listen, and seek clarification on anything that may be unclear during the safety speech.

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Where is Mad River?

Mad River Boat Trips is located in the beautiful Jackson Hole Valley in northwestern Wyoming, just south of Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.

The Snake River begins its journey in the rugged backcountry of Yellowstone National Park and gathers water as it heads south toward Jackson Hole through Grand Teton National Park. The river exits the south end of Jackson Hole through the winding Snake River Canyon, lined with trees and steep granite walls, small alpine meadows and abundant wildlife. It’s on this section of the Snake that you’ll experience some of the wildest whitewater in the Rocky Mountains.

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