What to Expect for your Rafting Trip during Covid-19

By Kim Cassels   •   July 3, 2020

What to Expect for your Rafting Trip during Covid-19

Below is an idea of what you can expect. With restrictions and best practices changing daily, we will always follow the guidelines put in place by the local health department at the time of your trip. These guidelines can and likely will change as restrictions change from day to day.

With the Coronavirus pandemic in the Southwestern United States changing the way we go about our lives, the 2020 rafting season will look a bit different. We want to take a moment to run through all our new changes, precautions, and procedures to help give you an idea of what to expect as you prepare for and embark on your rafting trip during COVID-19. 

We believe it is our social responsibility to do our best in minimizing the spread of COVID-19. The safety of our guests and staff has been and always will be a top priority for us. We monitor the virus’ status closely, and we periodically update our company guidelines based on the most up to date recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and state and local guidelines.

WhiteWater Paddling Telluride CO – Mild to Wild Rafting

Our co-owner, Molly Mickel, has the perfect metaphor for times like these: Life is full of flat water and class V rapids, when it’s good you get to cruise, when it’s rough you’ve got to T-up, hold on, and maybe get through it all backward. If we thought we’d seen class V’s before, the pandemic showed us what they’re really like— bigger than anyone thought possible. 

While the waters feel like they’ve calmed a little since reopening the economy, we understand COVID-19 is as present now as it was during the mandated quarantine. We want you to know that we are thrilled to jump back in the boats to show you a great time, and keeping our customers safe and healthy while doing so in the forefront of our adapted protocols.  

Here’s what to expect for your rafting trip during COVID-19. 


Just like a huge rapid, COVID-19 is always throwing a lateral wave or a rock in there! So we ask our customers to stay up-to-date on Colorado and/or Utah guidelines and restrictions for COVID-19 depending where you’re rafting with us.    

You can also visit the Colorado and Utah tourism pages for more condensed information specifically related to travel.  

Top points from Colorado Guidelines as of June 26th, 2020:

  • Wear a face mask/covering when out in public.
  • Stay at home as much as you can.
  • If you are sick whatsoever, stay home.
  • If you are over 65 or have high risks, you should avoid going out except for essential needs. 
  • Continue practicing social distancing where possible. 
  • Continue washing/sanitizing hands and surfaces frequently and avoid touching your face.

Colorado River-Moab Utah-Mild to Wild Rafting

Top points from Utah Guidelines as of June 26th, 2020: 

  • Wear a face mask/covering when out in public. 
  • Any individual who exhibits any symptom of illness consistent with COVID-19 should withdraw from or be excluded from any physical social event or gathering.
  • Avoid social gatherings or events of more than 10 people.
  • If an individual has tested positive for COVID-19, each member of the individual’s household should self-isolate.
  • Anyone over the age of 60 or who is immunocompromised should avoid contact with any other individual except to receive critical assistance.
  • Everyone should avoid discretionary travel, gymnasiums, shopping trips (other than shopping for food and other essentials), and social visits.

Complete our Pre-trip Self Screening

After you’ve booked your trip, you will receive a required questionnaire to assess whether each individual in your group meets the criteria to go rafting with us. Please have everyone in your group fill this out ONLINE and BEFORE your trip. If a guest does not fill out the questionnaire, they will not be allowed to travel on any of our tours. 

Any and all guests reporting symptoms or failing to complete the questionnaire will be removed from the trip and credited for a future trip.

Check out the pre-trip screening questions here

Trip Check-in and Shuttle

Please bring a mask or face covering to wear in our office and on shuttle vehicles. If you do not have your own, we have face coverings available for purchase in our offices.

All Mild to Wild team members wear masks during services including but not limited to servicing of customers in the office, curbside check-in, retail, rentals, sales, shuttles, as well as accepting deliveries and returns when having temporary contact within six feet.

Masks should meet the following criteria according to the CDC:

  • Be clean and in good repair.
  • Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Be secure.
  • Include multiple layers of fabric.
  • Allow for breathing without restriction.
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried.
  • Be on the wearer’s face.
  • Be laundered on a daily basis.

Big Event Charter Bus Durango – Mild to Wild Rafting

In addition to our well-established maintenance and cleaning schedule, we have increased the frequency of cleaning service for our vehicles, office locations, bathrooms, and shared pre and post-trip facilities. Other updated office and vehicle policies include:

  • Increased frequency of cleaning our office and restrooms.
  • All pre-trip registrations and waivers can be completed online if you wish to completely avoid going into a building.
  • Indoor facilities will only be used for bad weather, and include floor markers to help ensure 6-foot distancing along with separated order/delivery areas to limit guest contact.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, and hand-washing stations are available at trip check-in locations and shuttles.
  • High touch surfaces will be sanitized several times daily in offices and vehicles.
  • Vehicles are cleaned and sanitized after every use.
  • All vehicles will be loaded with social distancing protocols and at the capacity set by local health departments. 

A guest survey will be sent out 72-84 hours prior to trip check-in. Upon arrival, we will ask if any conditions have changed. If a guest answers “yes” to questions 1-2, they will not be allowed on the trip. 

If they answer “yes” to question 3, they may be allowed on the trip if they have been deemed non-contagious by a verifiable medical professional. If they are unable to meet participation criteria we will provide a credit for a future trip, postpone the trip to a later date, or provide an 85% refund.

We will always maintain the CDC’s recommended precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 as published at the time of your trip.

During Trip

Whether you are taking a half-day trip or 6-day wilderness adventure, Mild to Wild staff has always adhered to public health and food handling best practices. In response to COVID-19, we are taking additional measures for the safety of our guests and guides.

All working guides and staff must consistently confirm no symptoms of any sickness or contact with others who showed such symptoms. 

Single Day Trips

  • Guides will wear masks throughout trips except while rowing. 
  • Until which time social distancing is ended or modified, associated groups will be placed in rafts that allow them to maintain as much distancing as possible and will be encouraged to wear masks.
  • 60% alcohol hand sanitizer will be available throughout the trip. 
  • Mixed groups will have a maximum of 6 riders per stern frame/paddle boat.
  • Employees will wear face coverings or masks while riding in any vehicle when others are present and when interacting with guests in a way that social distancing can not be maintained.
  • Safety speeches will be given in areas that allow for proper spacing and distancing and Covid-19 protocols will be covered.
  • Each boat will carry its own water jugs and only the guide will refill water bottles.
  • If a guest or Mild to Wild team member develops flu-like symptoms during a trip, per CDC guidelines, we will:
    • Socially distance the individual(s) from the rest of the group and any community items.
    • Disinfect any suspected items or areas of contamination.
    • Provide the individual with a face mask to wear.
    • Consult local agencies about the possibility of an evacuation.
    • Inform other individuals on the trip of the potential for them to be quarantined for a period of time should another individual on their trip become ill.
    • If the individual requires caretaking, we will ensure that just one employee is tending to them and that the employee has a face mask and gloves and observes appropriate precautions.

Phoenix Arizona Salt River Camping – Mild to Wild Rafting

Additional Protocols for Multi-Day Trips

Food Service:

  • Guides will wear face masks and gloves when working with food and preparing food.
  • Proper hand-washing and sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will be provided and used regularly.
  • All prepping surfaces will be disinfected with wipes or disinfectant spray pre and post prep.
  • No gathering be allowed within the kitchen.
  • Guests will not be allowed to serve their own food via serving utensils or otherwise. Food will be served by guides.

Group Size Management:

  • Until which time social distancing is ended or modified, group sizes will be managed with but not limited to the following measures:
    • Inflatable kayak use will be encouraged on all appropriate rivers.
    • When social distancing is not possible on the boat, guests will be asked to wear a face covering.
    • Total group size will be limited per managing agencies guidelines.
    • Groups will be broken and managed in “pods” that meet current state health agency guidelines for a specific area. If a single group traveling together or a family of 4 people or more, will be assigned their own boat until guidelines suggest otherwise.
    • Additional launches will be added where regulating agencies allow it and when needed to better adhere to social distancing.
    • Private trips (including shuttle and boat) are available to minimize contact with other groups.

Launch Ramp and Take Out Protocols

  • Employees will remind guests as they arrive at each spot to practice social distancing guidelines.
  • Guests will be asked not to mingle with other guests or congregate with other guests traveling with us or another company for their personal safety and to not increase the potential contact tracing.

On-River Toilets (Groover):

  • Employees are required to wear gloves and masks when setting up and taking down facilities.
  • Employees will disinfect the can, seat and supply box via wipes or spray
  • Guests will be directed to spray or wipe all surfaces they have touched both pre and post-use
  • All users of a groover will be required to use proper hand washing/sanitizing methods before and after each use.

Post-Trip Groover Clean Up:

  • Employees are required to wear gloves, goggles, masks, and rubber suits when cleaning the toilet systems.
  • Employees will disinfect all cleaning items after use for cleaning.
  • Employees are required to use proper hand washing/sanitizing methods before and after each cleaning.

A note about Vulnerable Populations:

It is recommended that people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should not go on backcountry trips. High-risk individuals include, but are not limited to people with the following conditions:

  1. Over 65 years of age.
  2. Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
  3. Severely obese.
  4. Diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or undergoing dialysis.
  5. Liver disease.
  6. Hypertension.
  7. Other immunocompromised individuals (HIV, undergoing cancer treatment, or other underlying medical conditions). 

If you would like to check out a more in-depth breakdown of all our updated policies and procedures in response to COVID-19 (not just rafting trips), please visit our dedicated COVID-19 page. For any additional information, concerns, and requests, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We will do our best to meet all of your needs! Not to wear this out, but our guest’s safety has and always will be our tip-top priority, and this includes making adjustments to make you feel even better on your trip. We appreciate your business with Mild to Wild as we are navigating new lines to get us through these class V times. Thank you for joining us as we continue to safely connect friends and family through nature and adventure. 


More Reading 

12 Things You’ll do on a Multi-Day Raft Trip Besides Rafting 

Guide to Getting off of the Beaten Path in Moab

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