White Water Rafting in Golden BC – FAQs
If this is your first time white water rafting in BC, or your first time to the Kicking Horse River, we know you're bound to have some questions. We've tried to answer the most common questions we get about our rafting tours in Golden, BC, and river rafting in general, but if you have any questions we didn't answer please get in touch. We're always happy to help!
How have your policies and procedures changed due to Covid-19
Please head to our Covid-19 Policies page to see how we're rolling for this summer.
What makes Glacier Raft Company unique?
- Glacier has been the #1 Activity in Golden on Trip Advisor for over 10 years. We're honoured to hold this title as the distinction's based entirely on reviews (over 1500 of them!) written by our past guests. Here are some of the common themes of why guests have rated Glacier as the best rafting company.
- We've been running white water rafting trips on the Kicking Horse River in BC since 1982. Glacier was the first company in Golden to raft the Kicking Horse. Every year we work to refine our trips, organization and experience.
- Our trips are never rushed and we always take the time to ensure your safety. We want you to have a memorable day out, appreciate our beautiful area and enjoy a bit of adventure. Providing you with the best experience possible is our priority.
- Our guides return year after year because they love what they do. They have high levels of experience, knowledge and passion, and our guests always tell us their day was better because of their awesome guide.
- We pioneered heli rafting on the Kicking Horse River to access the rapids and beauty of the lower canyon.
- We have extra gear to keep you warm (neoprene jackets and socks) and hot showers to enjoy after spending a day on the river.
- Each boat is limited to 8 customers (oar rafting) and 9 customers (paddle rafting). This allows for maximum comfort and personal attention from your guide.
- We have a professional photographer. Top quality photos and video are available everyday.
- We are the only company on the river to offer HD video footage of every trip.
- Our famous cheers! At the end of your adventure, we invite you to join us around a campfire. You can chat with the guides, share stories of your day and enjoy a complimentary cold beverage.
- Learn more about what makes Glacier special and why you should choose to raft with us.
Do I need experience to come white water rafting?
No, you don’t - many of our rafters are first timers. Our guides provide thorough instructions prior to every trip. They go through procedures and safety demonstrations so everyone is clear on what to expect.
Our trips start off gradually so you’ll have a chance to feel comfortable in the raft before getting into the bigger whitewater. We do require your active participation and all guests will need to paddle and hold on when directed.
If you've never rafted before and want to try white water rafting in BC, we recommend booking our White Water Discovery trip. This tour starts off with the calm upper canyon and builds into the big class 3 and 4 rapids in the afternoon. This gives you more time to get confident in the raft before hitting the white water, and is a more complete rafting experience.
What equipment do you provide?
We provide all of the white water rafting equipment you'll need. This includes a wetsuit, neoprene jacket, splash top, fleece sweater, neoprene boots, socks, mitts, helmet, life jacket and paddle.
There will be a highly experienced and certified guide in every raft, and we provide transportation to and from the river.
What should I bring?
All you need to bring is a swimsuit and towel. It’s a good idea to pack your sunglasses and sunscreen for the hot, sunny days too. We recommend coming with your swimsuit on underneath your clothes so you have the options to get into your wetsuit beside your vehicle.
We have spacious change rooms at our base with HOT SHOWERS and there's lots of time to get changed both before and after your river rafting trip.
What footwear should we bring?
We will provide you with neoprene boots so no need to worry about getting your own river shoes.
Will the highway be open? I hear there's lots of construction near Golden from 2020 - 2023?
The short answer is YES! Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project on the Trans Canada Highway (Highway #1) will start in the fall of 2020 and should take 3 years. The highway closures will not happen from June 1 to Sept 15 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are no day time closures or stoppages during this time frame. This means visiting Golden and rafting on the Kicking Horse River is good to go during the entire construction process.
That being said - there can be other accidents, construction projects or delays, so make sure you give yourself lots of time to get here. Use DriveBC for up to date road conditions.
Do I need to know how to swim?
Knowing how to swim is recommended. You will be wearing a high float life jacket but if you're not a strong swimmer it is important to let your guide know. They'll position you in the raft accordingly and everyone gets training on how to hold on and stay in the raft.
How experienced are your guides?
We have one of the most experienced crews on the river and our river manager has been with us for 11 years. Our guides are knowledgeable and passionate, and we're fortunate to have such an amazing group of guides return year after year.
They all have up to date Swift Water Rescue Training, Advanced First Aid, and a British Columbia River Outfitters Association Guide Certificate.
For more information on each of our guides, visit Our Crew page
How often do you flip a raft / people fall out of the boat?
While we can’t guarantee a flip or swimmer won’t happen, it is a very rare occurrence. Our guides priority is always safety and keeping you in the raft is a big part of this. It’s important to listen to everything they say.
There will be various points throughout the trip when they tell you to hold on or get down, and it’s necessary to follow their instructions.
To read more about our commitment to safety, have a look at our safety page.
Could my rafting trip be cancelled?
Yes. We hold the right to cancel all rafting trips if water levels fluctuate to a level that makes it unsafe for us to raft. Water levels are completely dependent on Mother Nature, so we may not know until the day before, or morning of the trip. Safety is the only consideration when making this decision.
Other reasons for cancellations include not having the minimum numbers we need to safety run, or an obstruction in the river.
If we cancel a trip for any of these reasons you will receive a full refund.
What if it rains?
We raft rain or shine. Rafting is a great activity to do on a rainy day – you’re going to get wet anyways!
Because we run rain or shine, we do not allow guests to change their trip date because of the weather. Once you're in your wetsuit and splash top and are out on the river, you can't even tell which direction the water is coming from 🙂
Will it be cold?
The water is cold, but we'll provide you with lots of layers so you can bundle up as much as you want. The Kicking Horse River is glacial fed, so it’s about 3 – 4 degrees Celsius year round.
If you get cold easily, feel free to pile on as many layers as you'd like! We give everyone a wetsuit and you can also take a neoprene jacket, fleece sweater and splash jacket to go on top.
On the hot, sunny days it's very refreshing, and many of our guests do decide to go for a little dip in our designated swimming spots.
How are white water rapids rated?
There are 6 classes of rapids:
1: Moving water
2: Splashy waves.
3: Easy maneuvering through the rapids, bigger waves.
4: Intense rapids, technical maneuvering, big waves.
5: Long, powerful rapids with serious consequences (not commercially raftable).
6: No go (think Niagara Falls).
What classes of rapids do you raft on the Kicking Horse River?
This Kicking Horse rafts class 1 - 4 rapids, with class 4 being the highest we can commercially raft in Canada. The Kicking Horse has 3 Sections: The Upper, Middle & Lower Canyons.
- Upper Canyon - Class 1 - 2 rapids
- Middle Canyon - Continuous class 2 - 3 rapids and a 1 km section of class 4 (more class 4 at high water)
- Lower Canyon - 4 km of continuous class 4, with other class 3 and 4 rapids spaced throughout, followed by a class 1-2 float into Golden
I'm really nervous. Should I still try white water rafting in BC?
Absolutely! We have nervous rafters join us everyday so you're definitely not alone. All of our guides are very experienced and they know a lot of people are nervous about being on the water. They'll do everything they can to make you feel at ease.
With the way the Kicking Horse River flows we always start our days with the calmest section first. It's the perfect introduction and gives you the chance to get comfortable in the raft and familiar with your guide, without needing to experience any crazy whitewater (unless you change your mind and decide you want to upgrade).
We find it's often the people who were the most nervous to begin with who come back with the biggest smiles at the end.
If you'd like to book a gentle trip to start, we recommend our Family Adventure trip.
If you'd like to start off calm and build into the bigger rapids in the afternoon, we recommend White Water Discovery trip.
Do I need to be young/fit/athletic/experienced etc. to go river rafting?
There is no specific "descriptor" you need to be to go rafting. Rafting is something everyone can do, because with 5 trips to choose from, we can make sure you book the appropriate adventure for you.
We do require everyone to paddle and hold on, so expect to be an active participant in the trip. The Kicking Horse River ranges from calm, flat water to big class 4 white water, meaning we have options for all desired levels of excitement.
Whether you're young, old, nervous, confident, travelling with kids, first timers, experienced rafters, planning a surprise or organizing a large group, we can help find the right tour for you.
Do you have a photographer to take photos and videos of our rafting trip?
Yes, we have a professional onsite photographer. They'll take photos of you at some of the most scenic and best white water sections on the river. They'll also be at our lunch spot and take out to grab photos of you and your group.
We are the only company on the Kicking Horse River to also film HD video of each rafting trip every day. Our guides have GoPros to shoot video from the front and back of the rafts to capture both vantage points.
You can view your photos and video back at our base at the end of the trip. All media is available to purchase and you'll receive everything digitally.
Can we bring cameras and other personal belongings in the raft?
We don’t recommend you bring anything with you on the river. There's always a chance cameras will get lost or wet, and you'll be paddling so there isn’t a lot of time to be taking pictures anyways.
If you want to bring your GoPro, we do have helmets with GoPro mounts. They must be hands free so there is a chance the camera could get broken or knocked off. Many cameras have found their way to the bottom of the Kicking Horse over the years. It's up to you, but it's safer to leave the filming to us.
The only thing you should bring is medication. Anything you'll need throughout the day such as an asthma inhaler or epi pen etc. Our guides have small dry bags to keep these safe.
What's for lunch if we raft the Kicking Horse?
Any trip that begins at 9:15 am will include a BBQ lunch.
We provide a delicious riverside BBQ, with your choice of a hamburger, veggie burger, chicken burger or smokie (a big hot dog). We have chips and granola bars and iced tea or water.
We're happy to prepare a gluten free or vegan lunch – please let us know!
Can I wear my glasses or sunglasses on the river?
Yes you can, and we do recommend wearing them if it's going to make your day more enjoyable.
If you'll be wearing prescription glasses we recommend bringing a strap in case they fall off. We sell sunglass saver straps for $10 if you don't have your own. This keeps them hanging around your neck if they do fall off, rather than heading to the bottom of the river.
If you don't have prescription glasses but don't want to risk losing your good shades, we also sell cheap (but highly stylish) $10 sunglasses. You get a lot of glare off the river on the beautiful, sunny days, so we find our eyes are happier when we do wear sunglasses.
It's also fine to wear contacts on the river.
How far in advance should I book?
We recommend you book your seats as soon as you've selected your date. Seats are limited and booking in advance is the only way we can guarantee we’ll have spots available. This is especially true for large groups and weekends - Saturdays and Sundays book up fast!
Please do not leave your booking until the very last minute, or show up on the day you want to raft, as there's a good chance we won't have space. We'll absolutely accommodate you if we do, but better not to risk it.
What is your deposit policy?
We take full payment at the time of booking to secure your seats for all Kicking Horse River trips.
We can help you reserve over the phone, or you can book online through our website.
* If you're organizing and booking a large group and can't pay the full amount up front, we do have an option to take a deposit only. Please contact us at email@example.com to get the details and set up your reservation.
We use Rezdy Booking Software for all of our reservations.
Can everyone in my group pay individually?
Yes, this is possible. You can book on our website or over the phone. For both cases we ask that you let us know the name of your group booking so we can make sure everyone stays together in one raft.
Please note though - if you qualify for a group discount, you only receive the discount if you book and pay as one group. Not if everyone wants to pay individually.
What is your cancellation policy?
If you have to cancel your trip, the full amount is refundable (less a $20.00 per person processing fee) provided we receive at least 72 hours notice prior to your trip date. If notice occurs within 72 hours of your trip date the full amount is non-refundable.
When you reserve your seats they are no longer available for anyone else to book. We also schedule guides, drivers and plan our logistics based on the number of seats we have confirmed. Because of this, if you cancel within 72 for ANY reason please do NOT expect a refund. This applies to all reasons.
In the unlikely event that we need to cancel a trip due to weather or safety concerns, we will re-schedule your trip to a date that works for you, or provide a full refund.
All refunds go back onto the credit card used for the initial booking.
We do not allow our guests to drink alcohol or come intoxicated in any way. This is both before and during your white water rafting trip in BC. We need everyone to be in top form and not under the influence for safety reasons. If we refuse to take you because you're intoxicated, you will not receive a refund.
Is it possible to change the date of my reservation instead of cancelling?
If it's more than 72 hours prior to your trip (for all non heli trips), we will do our best to change the date of your reservation. This is dependent on availability, the time of year and the number of people booked on the trip. The more notice we have the easier it is to make modifications.
There is no guarantee, and if we're unable to change your reservation our cancellation policy will be in effect.
If it's the day of your trip, or you're within 72 hours, we cannot switch the date. Once we're that close to your trip we've planned our guides, drivers, logistics and food prep. We value our staff and having them get bumped last second isn't possible.
What are your policies for heli rafting?
*Guests must wear a buff or mask on the helicopter ride. A buff or mask is provided*
* Heli trips are offered on Saturdays and Wednesdays starting mid July.
* No experience required. Our guides will let you know exactly what to do.
* We can only raft the lower canyon at specific water levels. It closes at certain times throughout the summer when the water becomes too high for us to safely run it. This is typically June and early July, but can extend into late July or early August. When this occurs, we run the middle canyon whitewater section twice. Not to worry though – at high water, the middle canyon is as good as it gets!
* If we can't raft the lower canyon due to high water you WILL STILL be flying in the helicopter. The heli will fly you back up the canyon to raft the second lap of the middle. The flying time is the same for both trips. If you've booked a heli trip you will be flying - you DO NOT have the option downgrade your trip day of.
* We cannot give advance notice of whether or not we'll be rafting the lower canyon, as river levels are dependent on Mother Nature and can change very quickly. The decision to raft the lower canyon is often made the morning of the trip when we have realtime information on water levels and weather. Please try to understand that river levels are completely out of our control.
* We hold the right to cancel trips entirely if water levels fluctuate to a level that makes it unsafe for us to be on the Kicking Horse. Safety is the only consideration when making this decision. If we cancel a trip for this reason you will receive a full refund.
* If you have to cancel your heli trip, the full amount is refundable (less a $20.00 per person processing fee) provided we receive at least 30 days notice prior to your trip date. If notice occurs within 30 days of your trip, the $100.00 per person deposit becomes non-refundable, and within 21 days of your trip the full amount is non-refundable.
*We need a minimum number of people for heli trips to run. If those numbers are not met we will not be able to book the helicopter. If minimum numbers are not met we will not charge you for the lower canyon portion of your trip, or for the heli flight.
* There's a $5.00 Land Use Fee and 5% GST applied to all trips.
Do you ever see wildlife while you're on the Kicking Horse River?
Yes! Mountain goats, black bears, deer, moose, big horn sheep and bald eagles are among many of the animals spotted along the river banks.
When does your season start/end?
We start rafting May long weekend. We offer white water rafting trips from Golden, BC on weekends in May and then everyday from June 1st to mid September.
Being able to offer trips every day is dependent on meeting minimum numbers and the river level.
Where is Glacier Raft Company located?
Our rafting base is 5 minutes from the Kicking Horse River at 1509a Lafontaine Rd, Golden, BC V0A 1H3. We're right off the Trans Canada Highway #1 and are super easy to get to.
White water rafting in BC on the Kicking Horse River will bring you to beautiful Golden, British Columbia. A cute and authentic mountain town that's surrounded by 6 National Parks.
Please refer to our Contact Page for detailed maps of how to find us. When you confirm a trip your confirmation will also have a map and detailed instructions on where to find us.
Is there a weight limit?
Our maximum weight limit is approximately 300 lbs (136kg) due to safety reasons and the size of our gear.
Can I go rafting if I'm pregnant?
This is a discussion you must have with your doctor, as we cannot advise on medical issues. If you're questioning it, it's probably safest to not go.
If you're thinking of white water rafting anywhere in BC and have medical issues or concerns, please consult with your doctor. We're unfamiliar with your history and are not medical experts, so we can't advise on any health questions.
Do you offer any promo codes or discounts?
We don't offer promos or discounts because we want to be able to offer everyone the best experience possible. Being able to add more to our day to exceed expectations is important to us, and we can't do that if we discount our prices.
The only exception to this is that we do offer group discounts. Eight people fill a raft so if you have 8 or more you'll save a bit of money. To receive this discount, one person will need to book and pay for the entire group.
Do you offer afternoon river experiences for people who arrive to Golden late?
Yes we do! We have an afternoon White Water Express trip that runs from 3:30 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. This trip rafts the middle canyon of the Kicking Horse River which is a fun 12 km white water rafting trip in Golden BC.
We also offer evening kayak rentals. If you'd enjoy a leisurely float or paddle, we can direct you to one of the lakes in the area.
Will I have to sign a waiver?
Yes. Every guest of Glacier Raft Company must read, agree to and sign a Release of Liability, Waiver of Claims and Assumption of Risks and Indemnity Agreement prior to their rafting trip.
The guest who makes the booking will receive a digital copy of our waiver. This will be forwarded onto other members of the group (as necessary) to read, agree to and sign at the time of booking. If you can't complete it ahead of time, there will be time to do this at our rafting base when you arrive.
Each adult guest must read, agree to and sign THEIR OWN Release of Liability, Waiver of Claims and Assumption of Risks Agreement prior to rafting. Guardians must sign for those under 19.
If you have questions please let us know.
To read this document ahead of time, HERE IS OUR WAIVER.