What You’ll Learn About Yourself When You Take A Multi-Day Rafting Trip

By Kim Cassels   •   June 23, 2021

What You’ll Learn About Yourself When You Take A Multi-Day Rafting Trip

Phoenix Arizona Salt River Camping – Mild to Wild Rafting

What does it mean to learn something about yourself on a wilderness trip? What does it look and feel like to have those moments of enlightenment when abound on the trails in towering mountains, or along a mighty river on a multi-day rafting trip?

When we think about taking any wilderness trip, we sometimes forget that much of what we’ll get out of the experience will be from within. One of the more profound things that happens when you escape to a canyon for days on end is what you learn about yourself.

It’s easy to focus on what you’ll do while you’re out there, but not as easy to focus on what it’ll mean to you at each moment, or even long after that trip has come to a close. How you’ll think about yourself after those whitewater runs and moments around the campfire?

Yes, it seems very nuanced, very subjective, or just downright cheesy, but one of the best things about taking a river trip is what it teaches you about yourself. Here’s some of the things you may learn, and why they make the journey so much better.  

Your Brain Feels Better, So You Do Too

Guide At Castle Valley Put In - Castle Valley - Mild to Wild Rafting

We know from a slew of studies that the brain thrives in nature far more than in urban landscapes. Researchers have found that even scenes of wilderness decrease the output of stress hormones and blood flow to the amygdala where anxiety lives.   

Water is also known to have similar impacts on our electrically charged noggins. Because oceans, rivers and lakes have a routine and simplistic composition, the mind doesn’t have to work as hard to focus on them. This allows you to wander deeply into your thoughts, whether it’s zoning into your cast or a daydream. 

So when you do have time to meander— metaphorically in this sense— where will your thoughts go? To work? To someone you love? To aspirations? Whatever it is that you find yourself thinking about, and how you think about it, it can teach you a lot about yourself when you’re far away from daily distractions. 

You’re More Capable than You Might Think You Are 

Green River Rafting Desolation Canyon – Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Tours

Another thing you can learn about yourself when you take a multi-day rafting trip is that you’re kind of a badass. New things can be nerve-racking, no doubt. Especially when you’re nestled below the loft of canyon walls, or inside the wave of ever-flowing waters. 

But whether you’re plunging into the hole of a big rapid for the first time, or learning how to put together your camping equipment, you’ll learn that you’re pretty well-equipped to take on what comes your way in the wilderness. 

If you didn’t think you could paddle through a foaming current, pull someone twice your size into a boat, tie nautical knots, or crest a canyon rim, river trips will definitely change that perception that for the better. And just like anything else, the more you do something, the better at it you become. 

What Kind of Role You Take on in a Group 

Campfire Yampa River Rafting - Dinosaur National Monument - Mild to Wild Rafting

Every person tends to fall into a certain role when they’re on a river trip, or any group dynamic for that matter. Luckily, on guided multi-day rafting trips, the guides handle all of the big stuff from getting you downstream to running things in camp. 

But that certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t any roles left for the rest of the bunch. River trips can teach you that you fulfill some roles that you don’t necessarily have outside of this isolated ecosystem. 

Some people are comedians in hiding, or therapists, or leaders. When we embrace our natural contributions that make a group dynamic more harmonious, we get to know ourselves better. We accomplish this both by how we interact and react to people on these types of journeys, as well as when we’re alone for that precious time of reflection. 

What Inspires your Creativity 

Yampa River Rafting - Dinosaur National Monument - Mild to Wild Rafting

Mark Twain and Georgia O’Keeffe aren’t the only ones who found wilderness immersion imperative for their work. Anyone can find inspiration from the Earth when they’re left to their own devices, which is another scientifically proven thing! 

When that three-pound organ calling the shots (AKA your brain) is allowed to truly unwind, you become more creative since your mind can’t help but entertain itself. Some of the best muses we could ask for come from massive scenery, enveloping chasms, glittering streams, graceful wildlife, and candescent night skies.

It’s no wonder why people can’t help but make music, draw, or write when they’re in these spectacular places. And that’s a beautiful thing, not only because it’s a ceremonious act of the human condition, but also because what you create allows you to feel transported back to where you made that form of expression, be it a sparkling corridor or a sunset swept across the beach.


We love the many fantastic external experiences you’ll gain on a multi-day rafting trip, but those internal lessons you discover on your own are a truly special bonus.. If you’re looking for a river trip to facilitate some of that mindful practice but you’re not sure where to start, check out this Wellness Retreat in Desolation Canyon this year.


More Reading 

Why the Green River is One of the Best for Rafting Trips

Taking a Multi-Day Rafting Trip when You’ve Never Camped Before

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