Have some questions before you hit the river?

Check out the answers to a few of our Frequently Asked Questions below!

Do I need experience to raft?

No you don’t. Most of our guests are first time rafters and our trips, equipment and briefings are designed to put the novice rafter at ease. Our guides so will provide a thorough safety talk before getting into the water. No experience is required for any trip.

Why should we raft with Hydra?

  • OUR EXPERIENCE – We have been rafting the Kicking Horse for over 30 years. With time comes experience and Hydra prides itself on its qualified staff and impressive safety record. Each year we refining our trips, organization and guest experience.
  • GREAT TEAM – Hydra River Guides is a family owned company. Our team is passionate and experienced and return year upon year. Our head guide has been with us for over 24 years! Our people, from our guides, photographer, cooks, land manager, reservation staff, head guide and owner, are there to make sure you have an amazing rafting experience; from start to finish..
  • PRIVATE RIVER BASE – We are fortunate to have 6 acres of land located on the banks of the Kicking Horse River. The private land and stunning views make for a pretty amazing River Base. Our site is fully equipped with flushing toilets, change rooms, picnic area and even beach volleyball courts! Our secure parking lot allows rafters to leave their personal belongings and vehicles in safety. The sweeping river views are the perfect backdrop for guests enjoying their hearty BBQ lunch. We have a lodge on site where you can pick up a rafting souvenir or view the rafting photos of your day.
  • CLOSEST TO BANFF / RIVER ACCESS – Our river base is located 25kms east of Golden, so we are the closest rafting operator to Banff and right at the top of the river! For those driving west from Calgary or Banff, we save you the hassle of driving right into Golden, to just be shuttled back 25kms to start your rafting trip. We would rather you spend your day on the river than in a bus! For those driving east, we are a convenient stop on the way! Our location allows us to access the river from our river base. We put in directly from the shore, there’s no shuttle bus to get you to the rapids. So once you’re kitted out with gear, we’re off!
  • TRANSPORTATION - Hydra is the only company that offers transportation from Canmore, Banff or Lake Louise for Kicking Horse Raft trips. So if you need a ride, we have it covered.
  • PHOTOGRAPHER - We have a dedicated photographer who captures group and action shots of your rafting day. Hydra is the only company that takes photos at the Grade 4 rapids of Portage and Shotgun. This means that our photos show the intense splashes and rapids like no other.
  • OUR REPUTATION - We take care in ensuring guest safety and in offering the very best guest experience. But don’t just take our word for it. Check out our Trip Advisor reviews, to get the low down from past guests. We are proud of our rankings and comments! Rafting is what we love to do and how we earned the trust and loyalty of our many return guests, sales agents, tour guides, hoteliers and locals who faithfully recommend our rafting trips year after year.

When does your season start and end?

We start rafting May 15th until September 15th (water level and trip numbers permitting). We are the first company to start the rafting season!

How experienced are your guides?

Your safety is our biggest priority, which is why each of our guides is Government Certified and carries Wilderness First Aid and Swift water Rescue Certificates. We have on-going in-house training and safety meetings throughout the season to constantly maintain and improve our skills. The expert team consists of guides who possess experience from numerous years of rafting around the world. Our head guide has been rafting the Kicking Horse River for 20+ years!

What should I bring, and what do you provide?

We ask that you bring a bathing suit, towel and a bag for your personal belongings. Once you make a booking, you will receive an email confirmation detailing what time to arrive and directions to the river base. Hydra River Guides provides all of the gear necessary for your raft trip including wetsuits, neoprene booties, fleece sweaters, spray jackets, life jackets and helmets. Lunch is included on every trip except the Fast Blast.

What about the weather? Do you still go in the rain?

Rafting is a great adventure at any time of the season. To ensure you are protected from the elements, we provide all of the necessary gear. We raft rain or shine, as you’ll get wet anyway!

Is the water cold?

Yes. The Kicking Horse River is glacier fed, so the water is always cold no matter the time of day or year. To keep our rafters warm we provide wetsuits, neoprene booties, fleece sweaters and spray jackets - as well as life jackets and helmets for safety. For the thermally challenged you can even rent a full neoprene jacket for $5.

Will I fall in / Do I need to know how to swim?

As rafting is an adventurous activity, there is a chance you may. Our guides do everything they can to look out for your safety and it’s important to listen to everything they say. There will be various points throughout the trip when they tell you to hold on or get down, and it’s necessary to follow their instructions.

What happens to my personal belonging when I'm on the raft?

We have secure storage for your personal belongings on site at our private river base. You don’t need to take anything on the raft, unless it is medication such as inhalers that must be kept with you. Our guides have a dry bag onboard where these can be kept safe.

Can I wear glasses/contacts on the raft?

Yes, you can, however, please be aware that they may get damaged or fall off. Don’t bring your expensive sunglasses! We recommend you wear contacts but if you need your glasses, secure them with a sunglass strap. These are available for purchase at our river base if required.

Do you take pictures of our raft trip?

As you will be too busy having fun, paddling and holding on, we take pictures of your raft trip from the river bank. Hydra has a dedicated photographer who captures group and action shots of your rafting day. Hydra is the only company that takes photos at the Grade 4 rapids of Portage and Shotgun. This means that our photos show the intense splashes and rapids like no other. The photos are available for viewing after your raft trip in our rafting lodge. For $30 you get a USB of all of your rafting photos which can be copied and shared with your friends. We also post photos of your day on our Facebook Fan Page.

What's for lunch?

We offer a delicious riverside BBQ lunch for our raft trips. On the menu is juicy Alberta Angus beef or vegetarian burgers, fresh, baked, local buns, assorted salads, dessert (chocolate brownies) and cold beverages.

How many people per raft? Will our group be in the same raft?

We typically have 8 rafters plus a river guide in each raft. We do keep group bookings together, however if your group is larger than 8, you'll have to be split up into smaller groups.

Do you have minimum/maximum ages & weights for your trips?

Our weight restrictions depend on the type of trip chosen and are dictated by the life jacket manufacturers. For our trips, the minimum age is 6 years & minimum 50 lbs for the Mild Trip and 12 years and minimum 90 lbs for every other trip. Our maximum weight limit is approximately 350 lbs due to safety reasons and the size of our gear. There is no age limit for rafting!

Will I have to sign a waiver?

Yes. Every guest must read and sign a Release of Liability, Waiver of Claims and Assumption of Risks and Indemnity Agreement prior to their rafting trip. Parents will co-sign for children under 18 years of age.

What is the best trip for our group?

We have trips to suit all abilities and budgets. See below for some of our most common group types:

  • First Time Rafter
    We recommend all of our trips. We've designed our trips, equipment and safety briefings to be “first timer friendly” so no experience is necessary.
  • Families with Young Children
    We recommend the The Mild, ages 6 and up!
  • Are on a Stag / Stagette
    We recommend the Kicking Horse Classic which departs twice daily. We can even package this with accommodation if you need it!
  • Want to Raft all of the Rapids on the River
    We recommend the The Double Whitewater. Raft the big rapids twice and get lunch! What a day!
  • Want an 'All Around' River Experienc
    We recommend the Kicking Horse Classic, a great balance of the Upper and Middle Canyons, this is our most popular river trip.
  • Are Pressed for Time
    We recommend the Fast Blast, a trip that departs late afternoon. Starting lower down the river, you get the best rapids – fast!

How many people do I need to get a group discount? Can we pay separately?

Groups of 8 or more receive a group discount. Please contact us for a personalized quote. If you would like to pay separately simply contact our office via phone or email. Let us know your group details and we will set up a group code for you to use. That way, everyone can enter their own credit card information, and pay for their trip.

I'm travelling solo...can I still book a trip?

Yes! We absolutely welcome solo travellers!

How do I book? Do you fill up in advance?

You can book online, over the phone on 1 -800-644-8888 or in person at our booking offices in Banff or Golden. Check out our contact us page for location details. We do get very busy, especially on weekends, so recommend a reservation well in advance. If plans change you can cancel up to 48 hours prior to the trip and get a full refund!

What's your cancellation policy?

We realize people’s travel plans can change. That’s why we provide you with a 48 hour cancellation policy for individual bookings and 7 days for groups of 8 or more.

In the unlikely event that Hydra must cancel a trip, full refunds or alternate dates will be given.