FAQ's

Full Day fun!   Electric Peak and bald eagle   Early spring trips

What should I wear?

Wear casual clothes and soft soled, tie on shoes that you don't mind getting wet. Quick drying synthetic fibers are best but not necessary. Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses are also a good idea.

Most days are sunny and warm, and you'll welcome the splash. But in the early season (May and June) the water is much colder. For that we recommend using our wetsuits (free of charge), and we have a large selection of high quality "Farmer John" wetsuits in sizes ranging from Kids XS to Adult 4X. Under your wetsuits you will want to wear something like a swimsuit or Under Armour that is light weight and not bulky. A wool sweater or fleece jacket can be worn over the top.Wetsuits always available

We require that you wear some type of shoe that straps to your feet, such as tennis shoes you don't mind getting wet, sport sandals, or water shoes. We have rental neoprene booties available (free of charge), if you don't want to get your shoes wet or don't have the right kind. No flip flops allowed (we have fished too many out of our beautiful river).

We recommend attaching valuables or leaving them locked in your car. We have a safe place for keys in our office and you can leave a change of clothes for after the trip in the cubbies next to our changing rooms.


What time do we need to arrive for our trip?

Please arrive a half hour before the scheduled trip departure time to sign waivers, pay, and get geared up. Travel in Yellowstone can be slow and it's best to allow extra time in case you see something you'd like to take a photo of or if there happens to be an animal traffic jam. Guests who arrive after the scheduled trip time will be rescheduled on the next available trip.
*For scenic trips, guests may arrive 15 minutes prior to trip time.


How far are you from Yellowstone?

Our office is one block from the North Entrance of Yellowstone. We are about 5 miles or a 15 minute drive from Mammoth Hot Springs. Check out the Google map in the About Us section to gain a perspective.

Other drive times and distances in and around Yellowstone National Park:

Tower Roosevelt 45 mins-1hr 23 miles
Canyon 1 & 1/2 hrs 38 miles
Old Faithful 2 hrs 55 miles
Yellowstone Lake 2 hrs 55 miles
West Yellowstone 1 & 1/2 hrs 55 miles
Bozeman 1 & 1/2 hrs 86 miles
Livingston 1 hr 52 miles
Chico Hot Spring 1/2 hr 30 miles

Construction is everywhere! Please allow extra time to reach us to avoid stress on your vacation!



What is the weather like there?

Gardiner is considered the banana belt of Yellowstone due to its moderate weather and warm temperatures. In fact, many of the animals that call Yellowstone their home come down to Gardiner in the winter to eat and live. Often times it can be up to 20 degrees warmer in our valley than in parts of Yellowstone.
Calm stretches and beautiful scenery   Sometimes it rains but hey you're gonna get wet anyway...


Storms move through quickly and for that reason, it is rare that we cancel trips. It could be raining while you check in and hot and sunny for the duration of your raft trip. Of course your safety is our primary concern and we reserve the right to cancel trips due to cold temperatures and high winds. We realize our guests may have only one opportunity to raft with us, so it is extremely rare for us to cancel trips. We raft rain or shine. Rafting in the rain can be a pleasant surprise. Deep reds, greens, and yellows leap from the landscape with a little moisture and the smell of mountain rain mixed with sage brush fill your senses. We have all the gear to keep you warm...and what else would you do on a wet day?

Our population here in Gardiner is small and weather moves through quickly but one of the best forecasters for our area is wunderground.com (although today the high was forecasted as 79 degree's and it is currently 90 degrees).


Below is a list of Average high and lows in Fahrenheit for Gardiner:

May June July Aug. Sept.
low 40; high 70 low 50; high 80 low 55; high 90 low 50; high 85 low 40; high 75

Remember to pack a wide range of clothing for your trip to Yellowstone and Montana. In general, we see pleasant hot days and cool nights. So you can go from wearing sandals and shorts during the day to sweatshirts and winter hats at night. You may not need everything you bring, but you'll be happy you brought if you do need it. Of course you can always pick up a souvenir hoodie or hat while you're here.


Do you have any age restrictions?Paddle hard or get princess face shots!

The minimum age for our whitewater trips is 6 years old and 4 years old for the scenic trips. The child's discount rate is for kids 12 and under.

At water levels above 14,000 cfs (that can occur during spring runoff and usually lasts a week or two), we reserve the right to restrict children under 12 from traveling through the canyon on our Full Day trips for their safety. Please feel free to call our office if you have any concerns about water levels. While we cannot predict the date and flows of the spring melt (as every year varies and depends on weather), we can let you know if we think there is a chance of experiencing runoff during your trip.

We have no maximum age restrictions.


Do you have any weight restrictions?

No, but every participant must be able to fit into and wear one of our life jackets. We have a variety of sizes to choose from and you are more than welcome to come in and try on one of our life jackets prior to your trip.

The horseback portion of the Paddle and Saddle restricts riders over 275lbs.

What is your cancellation policy?

We require full payment up front for all of our trips (groups of 10 or more may pay a 25% deposit). Your deposit is fully refundable as long as you cancel at least 48 hours prior to your trip.
HIgh water fun for the family

 

Why choose Yellowstone Raft Company?

Short Answer...We have the most fun, the best guides, and the longest trips (we really do go the extra mile)! We are river people and are here to share it with you!

Long Answer: As the first company to run trips on the Yellowstone River, our company named many of the rapids and have close ties to the community. We are the only company to be fully permitted by the National Park Service and the National Forest Service. That means all our guides are required to have First Aid, CPR, Swiftwater rescue, and documented river training. We also carry safety kits and rescue equipment that other companies are not required to have or carry. And we are able to access the river at several points and give you the longest trip available! We wash our wetsuits and wetsuit booties after every use and while you would think this would be an industry standard, it is rare among the companies in Gardiner.
This is a company run by river guides that want to give you a great experience,this is not just a business venture, its a lifestyle. Our love and respect for the river trickles down through our guides to you. Our guides have the most experience and the best attitudes, they are trained on the river and about the area, and they love their jobs! All of this makes the difference in your experience!

Why are your prices lower than other raft trips around the country?

We believe our river is beautiful and should be protected. By setting our prices low, we hope that rafting on the Yellowstone River can be an affordable and educational family trip, that will allow people from all over the world to fall in love with our river and rafting. By cultivating a love for the river, we also cultivate understanding and an urge to protect our natural resources.


How can I make reservations?

Call, book online, or e-mail us anytime for reservations.


Do I need to have prior whitewater experience?Rafting brings people together

No, this is a great river for first time rafters. The rivers sections are mostly fun class II and III, with medium sized waves. Our professional guides will teach you how to paddle, sit in a raft, and what to do if anything unexpected happens.


What is the river classification?

The Yellowstone River is classified as Class II-III rapids from Yellowstone National Park to Paradise Valley (the first 18 miles of legally navigable whitewater on the Yellowstone River). The rapids are rated on a scale of I-VI, with I being moving water and VI being unrunnable. Class II is waves up to about 3 feet, while Class III can encompass larger waves or obstacles.


Should I bring a camera?Bald eagle over Yellowstone river

We recommend bringing cameras only if they are waterproof. Photos are taken of most trips and you will have a chance to view and possibly purchase the photos in our office when you get back from your trip or later online.


Can I bring my phone?

At your own risk. These days it is hard to be separated from our phones, they are our lifeline, navigators, cameras, and so much more. But they often stand between us when it comes to truely experiencing life and enjoying the moment. Ultimately, the decision is yours but remember there is a chance your phone could get wet or slip out of your hands and sink to the bottom of the river.
 



Are there places to stay in Gardiner?Yellowstone River through the Gardiner valley

Yes, Gardiner is a fully operational entrance town to Yellowstone, complete with large and small hotels, motels, campgrounds, gift shops, restaurants, bars, a post office, bank, and grocery store. As the north entrance we are within 2 hours of most of the parks major attractions and Gardiner is a wonderful place to base your Yellowstone adventures from. We are a small town with a rugged yet refined Montana charm. We have links posted of some of our favorite local places to stay and would happy to point you in the right direction to get what you need around town.


Should we bring food and water on the raft?

Lunches are provided on the Full Day trips and the Half Days are short enough that you shouldn't need food while rafting. If you or one of your family members are diabetic, please bring whatever you need to keep energy and sugar levels appropriate. There are quite a few restaurants in Gardiner to chose from and many are within walking distance from our office. Often times our guides will point out their favorite places to eat on the way back through town at the end of the trip. Water bottles are welcome on the trip, but please no glass bottles or cans.


Can I bring a cooler of adult beverages?

We strongly feel that drinks are best enjoyed after rafting and we do not allow drinking on any of our trips. Anyone known to be intoxicated will not be allowed to join the trip and will forfeit their deposit. There are quite a few watering holes in Gardiner, that a visit can be a whole experience in itself, that we can point out after your trip.  


What type of boats do you use and how many people fit per boat?

We use state of the art, inflatable, self bailing 16 ft rafts for most of our trips. These boats fit 9 paddlers comfortably with room for non paddlers in the center of the raft. We try to limit our half day boats to 10 passengers, unless otherwise requested. We do have some larger rafts for large groups requesting to ride together. Full Day and Scenic boats are generally limited to 8 passengers. You can request a private boat on any of our trips for an additional charge.


Can I bring my dog?Canada goose whitewater training

Unfortunately, No. It can be a traumatic experience for a pet to be taken on a raft and their willingness to leave the raft can create problems for everyone involved. Yellowstone National Park has strict rules about pets and since our trips start in and run along the border of Yellowstone and often encounter birds and other wildlife, pets are not allowed on the trips.





What kind of dog is that at the office?

That is Captain Winston and he is part powder hound and part river rat, he is in charge of meeting and greeting guests. Actually, we're told he's part German wired haired pointing griffon and part black lab. He's a friend we adopted from our local animal shelter a few years ago and he loves meeting new people, swimming in the river, riding in the buses, laying on the deck of the office, and skiing in the winter. He is super friendly and loves kids (especially after they eat ice cream).