When done right, a river rafting can have a very minimal impact on the environments you travel through. That’s because you can pack out nearly everything you pack in with you. Our rivers are surprisingly precious and fragile resources, making it vital that we limit our impact when we travel on them. Fortunately, doing just that is fairly easy. Join Idaho’s #1 river adventure company, Killgore Adventures, as we show you some ways to minimize your impact on your next multi-day whitewater trip.

Camp on Durable Surfaces

Most rivers that run through the American West are lined by impressive canyon walls. This makes camping a challenge in some cases, as your campsites are largely limited to beaches. Set up camp on bare, compacted ground, and avoid camping on vegetation. If possible camp on rock surfaces, as these do not degrade as quickly as soil. 

Use a Fire Pan and Ash Container

Fires set directly on the ground are prohibited on western rivers, so you’ll need to bring a fire pan. These do a great job of minimizing the impact of a fire, and also give you the chance to pack out your ashes. Since fire pans are elevated off the ground, they cannot damage the earth underneath it and do a great job of keeping you warm. Make sure to place a fire blanket under your pan to catch any errant coals or embers. If you don’t have a dedicated ash container, you can pour your extinguished ashes into your portable toilet to help cut some of the smell of the waste.

Reduce Kitchen Micro-Trash

By now you should know not to feed the wildlife, but you might be doing that unintentionally when you cook food on the river. Do your best to be conscious of small bits of trash from your food packages, as well as stray food particles, like rice, noodles, or crumbs. An easy way to minimize this is to put down a kitchen tarp. Use this as your food prep and cooking surface and you’ll find that loose bits of food stay in place should they fall out of your cooler or pan. When you’re done cooking, simply fold the tarp and funnel the scraps into your trash bags.

Additionally, strain your wastewater through a colander or piece of netting before you disperse it. This way you can catch loose food particles or bits of debris. This keeps these materials from making their way back into the water.

Hygiene is Key

Keeping your hands clean is an important part of staying healthy and minimizing your impact on the river. Set up a handwashing station near your toilet and near your kitchen. Make sure to use a biodegradable soap that is kind to the earth. 

Similarly, make sure you pack a portable toilet or “groover” with you. While you can urinate in most rivers, you should never defecate in or even near the river. Make sure this is one of the first things you set up when you make camp and the last thing you tear down before getting back on the water.

Respect Other River Runners and Wildlife

When you’re out on a multi-day river trip, the prospect of running into other travelers can be exciting for some and dreadful for others. Make sure to respect others by not camping near them unless you have asked for their permission.

In the same vein, respect the wildlife around you. Remember, you’re traveling through their home, so do not antagonize them or bother them in any way. Keep a respectful distance away from all creatures, and only take photos of them. Do not interact with or feed them at all. Keeping your food in strong, durable containers and away from your campsite is a great way to keep curious critters out of your food.

Follow the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

We’ve outlined many of these principles already, but making sure you have a good knowledge of them can help you reduce your impact while rafting, and have a more enjoyable trip. Don’t know the LNT principles? We outlined them here, and you can find out more by checking out the Leave No Trace website

Explore the Rivers of Idaho Today

A whitewater river trip is an amazing way to experience the state of Idaho. Join the state’s leading adventure company and book your multi-day whitewater rafting excursion today! Killgore Adventures can take you down the most exciting parts of the Snake and Salmon Rivers. Book your trip now!