10 River Kayaking Tips

If you're going kayaking for the first time, use these 10 river kayaking tips to get started. Chances are, you have no idea what you're doing and you could get hurt (or get embarrassed) trying to do it yourself without help. Now's not the time to show off or get all macho. Look at it this way—at least you can read the tips now as opposed to ask for them later and really make yourself look like a dunce.

1. Determine where you want to go kayaking. Certain rivers are less difficult to traverse than others. If there's whitewater rafting-style waves, stay out of these if you're a beginner.

2. Come prepared. Wear a life jacket—no matter how good of a swimmer you think you are.

3. Take care of nature's needs first. Yes, that means go to the bathroom now, when you have the chance, before you board your craft.

4. Learn how to get into your kayak, and consider your weight. The heavier you are, the more careful you have to be about getting in.

5. Consider kayaking the river with a partner. Kayaking on a river is different than on a lake, where you might be able to get away with going it alone.

6. Go with a guide if it's your first time. They actually do come in handy.

7. Select the class of river you'll be kayaking. First-timers should select rivers with Class I or Class II flow. These rivers vary in different parts of each state, depending on the river you choose. Many rivers in Colorado and Utah fit these requirements.

8. Think about what scenery you want to see. If mountains are your thing, go kayaking in the west or northwest. If you're more of a canyon person, go kayaking in Utah or Arizona.

9. Wear appropriate clothing. Wear a swimsuit, trunks, or light T-shirt that won't weigh you down if and when you get wet.

10. Plan your route only as far as you can paddle. Paddling gets tiresome after about half an hour and can be excruciating after one or two. Don't be afraid to work up to a comfortable level by kayaking for only around 30 minutes at a time.

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