Difficulty: Easy/Medium (depends on tour)
Time: Between 3 - 6 hours (depends on tour)
Ages: 5 and up!
Last week, my family from out of town went rafting with a brand new company, New Wave Adventures. We had been with previous tour companies over the years and when my cousin visited from out of state, we were anxious to take her on an adventure!
I found out about New Wave Adventures on their facebook page and immediately followed along. Our guests are ALWAYS wanting to know the best companies to go on an adventure with, and I had an inkling this could be one of them. Plus, when our family visits from out of state, I enjoy playing tour guide.
My aunt, who booked the trip with THIRTEEN (!!!) of my family members said that New Wave's communication was top notch. Fast and effective communication? What more can you ask for??
Meet up with New Wave Adventures at their storefront in what locals refer to as "The Canyon" near the Denali National Park entrance. Here, you'll receive wetsuits to keep you dry on your trip down the Nenana River. Because this is a brand new company this year, the wetsuits are brand new as well! My family, who has been on several raft trips over the years, commented how nice it was having fresh gear for their trip. Your gear includes wetsuits, lifejackets, helmets and later on you are given a paddle if you are in a paddle raft. If you need a place to store small belongings while you're on the trip, they are able to hold onto keys, etc at the front desk.
For the Canyon Wave Raft Trip, you'll jump in a van and head over to the Nenana River. Tour guides break rafters into their raft groups and begin to give what my family described to me as "the most thorough and entertaining" safety pep talk they've ever had, which also included information about the geology of the area. Tour guides go over what will happen if the raft flips, if someone falls out in a rapid, if, if, if... They know this river so well and are well equipped to step in if something does go awry on your expedition.
The views down the Nenana River are excellent. You'll encounter Class III and IV Rapids as you wind back and forth down this majestic canyon. I've lived in the area all my life and still distinctly remember the first time I rafted and thinking "this view has been here all this time and I never knew what I was missing out on."
Depending on the weather and water conditions, your raft guide may allow you to jump in at one particularly slow and peaceful part of the river. If you jump out, you should know that even though you are in a wetsuit, you WILL still feel the cold water!! Hopefully you'll stay dry, and if given the chance to jump in, I hope you do.
As your tour comes to an end, you'll pull off to a side of the river where your bus is waiting for you. From here, you'll have about a 15 minute ride heading back to Denali National Park and New Wave Adventure's shop. On the tour my family went on, guides did not ask for a tip, but of course if you feel like your guide went above and beyond I'm sure they would enjoy a small gesture of appreciation. (I also hear that these guides were some of the punniest around - such as "If you need to pee while you're on the trip, urine trouble!")
Back at the shop, after you remove and return your rafting gear, you will have the opportunity to purchase photos of your trip! My family paid $100 for a link to a Google Photos album they could all share that included fourteen photos and four video clips. Well worth it for this photo loving family.
Upon returning home, I heard nothing but rave reviews about the entire experience! Thanks, New Wave Adventures for a trip of a lifetime.
This trip and blog post was not sponsored in any way by New Wave Adventures.