The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and you’re officially sweating uncomfortably at least once throughout the day. The remedy? Hopping in that bitterly cold, instant-hangover-curing, heart-stopping water of the Tahoe region.

In the summer, there are almost endless activities to choose from, even on the water. You could swim, paddle, kayak, wake surf, boat, etc. But a timeless (and sometimes cheap!) option for someone dying to cool off is none other than rafting down the river. Whether you’re looking for rapids, a family-fun day, or a lazy river, here are some tips and tricks of where to go and how to stay safe.

Drop-ins for Lazy River Rafting:

The 5-mile, self-guided trip is perfect for families, couples, or anyone looking for a fun day of river rafting in Lake Tahoe. Trips take about two to three hours, depending on your pace and number of stops. The river itself is mild and easy to navigate, but includes a few surprise rapids for an invigorating end to your raft trip. Although people with some experience often set out on their own rafts or tubes and run a shuttle system using their own vehicle, beginners should play it safe and choose from an array of reliable rafting companies that operate in this section of the river. Prices include shuttle service, help from staff at the launch point to get you off and paddling, and assistance in safely getting out of the river at the end of your float. Both companies operating this section, Truckee River Raft Company and Truckee River Rafting are located in Tahoe City.

For the more adventurous and skilled rafters:

IRIE Rafting Company: Twice daily, this company offers half-day whitewater rafting trips on the lower gorge of the Truckee River, marketed to both families and groups. The route’s obstacles range from gentle class II boulder gardens and swimming pools to class III and III+ sections like the Jaws and Bronco rapids. As you approach the Floriston Gorge about halfway through the trip, the rapids increase in intensity until you reach the top of the gorge where the river narrows and steepens into those last, most difficult class III+ sections.

Tahoe Whitewater Tours: With tours located on the American River, Carson River, and our beloved Truckee River, adventurers can book a whitewater tour depending on length, scenery, and class of rapids.

Tributary Whitewater Tours: These half-day Truckee River rafting trips are nearby whitewater rafting to most locations in Lake Tahoe and Reno. The Boca to Floriston trip is a guided class II-III adventure usually available all summer. This section of the Truckee River heads east from Truckee toward Reno. The river travels from the higher elevation pine forests and flows into the High Sierra desert, with cottonwoods lining the banks. Reservations are required.


Safety Tips

1. Of course, bringing your adult beverages, i.e. your trendy White Claws or Fresh Squeezed IPA, will perk you up and make you think you’re the next Michael Phelps, but don’t overdo it.

2. Sunscreen: Not to sound like your mom, but she is always right. Spending all day in the sun is a sure sign of far too many rays hitting your tender skin.

3. Water: I think this goes without saying, yet here’s a friendly reminder: Water gives you life.