The summer after my daughter turned ten, we went on our first white water rafting trip as a family. Since then, it’s become sort of an annual tradition. So far, we’ve hurtled down rivers in Montana, Washington, Idaho/Oregon, and Wyoming. This summer I asked the kids where they thought we should try for our white water adventure. They chose Canada. Bless them 🙂

Dry suits for rafting on the Kootenay River in Canada
Fashionable dry suits keep out icy water

Every river we’ve rafted on has its own unique characteristics and the trip with Kootenay River Runners was no exception. For starters, the Kootenay is the coldest river we’ve ever been on since the water is fed by glaciers and snow melt. Which explains the lovely blue onesies we sported 🙂 Time of year also contributed to the coldness: we went the first weekend in June, one of the first rafting trips of the summer, so the water hadn’t warmed up.

Despite the chill, it was an awesome trip. The Canadian Rockies are stunning in their beauty. Floating through the canyons between Radium Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs was absolutely gorgeous. And the waterfall we paddled up to was definitely a bonus. Our rafting guides were funny and knowledgeable, and they helped make the day a lot of fun.

A mama grizzly and her cubs in Kootenay National Park
Grizzly bears in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia

On the drive to our put in spot we saw a mama grizzly with her cubs. So cool! But I’ll admit that I was happy to be seeing them from a bus and not from like a tent!

Hot springs waterfall at Fairmont Hot Springs, Canada
Hot springs are all over the place at the Fairmont

By the time we got off the river, we were pretty cold. Luckily, this area is known for its hot springs and our hotel in Fairmont Hot Springs had several soaking pools to choose from. They also had a zip line course which the kids were more than happy to try out the next day!

All in all this was a fantastic trip for a long weekend. Everywhere we went was accessible and the rumours about Canadians being super nice held true. Seriously, is there a such thing as a surly Canadian? I haven’t met one yet!

Fun Fact: The Kootenay River is one of only four major rivers in North America to start in one country, pass into another, and return to the country of origin.

Know Before You Go: Life vests have always been a requirement for white water rafting. But these days, most companies will also require helmets on anything other than a float trip. Aqua socks, securely strapped sandals, or snug fitting sneakers are also a good idea. And you might want to bring a hat to hide your helmet hair after you get off the river 🙂