Veteran Western River Expeditions’ Guide Shares What She Wished She Knew Before Her First Raft Trip

SALT LAKE CITY, February 21, 2024 – She claims it to be one of her life’s biggest ironies. While her parents first met while guiding rafting trips, she never ran a river herself until she turned 20.

Then, training to be a professional river guide for Western River Expeditions, Hailee Houston learned a great deal that first year. Now, five years later, she claims that river water courses through her veins.

With experience and history under her belt, Hailee is wise beyond her 20-something years when it comes to ways of rivers and how best to enjoy being on the water. In her recent blog on the Western River Expeditions website, she details what she wished she knew that first time rafting. She shares overlooked strategies that can yield huge benefits when it comes to comfort and safety on a river adventure.

Packing essentials

  • Bring disposable wet wipes so you don’t have to carry around a damp washcloth. You’ll feel refreshed if you feel clean and sand-free when crawling into your sleeping bag.
  • Pack sufficient sun protection in the form of sunscreen, a hat, a quick-dry sun hoodie, and loose clothing that covers your upper and lower body. For her, a sarong comes in handy.
  • Be sure to bring a lightweight rain jacket to don before entering the fun of splash-filled rapids or braving a late-day thunderstorm.

Staying healthy

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, whether the sun is shining or not, whether you’re on the water or on dry land. Monitor your body and moods. Grumpy and down can signal hydration issues. In dry climates, you may perspire without even noticing it.

Going with the Flow

  • You’re on vacation,and your inclination may be to sleep in. Forget it. Wake-up time on the river can be as early as 6 a.m. Your guides are already up, making breakfast and planning the day for your enjoyment. They want to get on the river before other groups of rafters; they want to get to the next riverside camping site before it is occupied so you will have more leisure time to swim and hike. Don’t resist; get with the program.

Bring an Open Mind

  • Weather, river conditions,and unexpected issues revealed by other participants on your trip all have the potential to harbor stress. But this is your vacation but also the vacation of everyone around you. Rise above; accept challenges; be a team player, empathize with others,and meet each current with an open mind.

For more of Hailee’s blog please see

With over 60 years of experience orchestrating rafting trips for novices up to experts, Western River Expeditions is the “go to” rafting company. Due to an unusually heavy winter snowpack, favorable conditions this year for rafting well into late summer are as good as they get.

Following are Western River Expeditions’ suggestions for the best trips for beginners to experience an unplugged escape into the wilderness – and to beat the heat – while drifting and splashing over cool waters.

Desolation Canyon/Green River 5-Day Adventure is ideal for families with children as young as five. There are weekly departures June through August, with space still available for 2024. The 5-day/4-night adventure begins and ends in Moab, Utah, and includes a scenic flight that lands atop a dramatic desert plateau where the group begins a short descent on foot to the river put-in. Then comes the voyage through class II-III rapids over 88 river miles. The per person rate for adults (age 16 and up) is from $2,085 and for youth (age 5-15) from $1,335. For details see

Grand Canyon 3-Day Expedition travels a river distance of 89 miles over class II and III rapids with two nights spent camping under the stars along the river. The per-person rate for adults and for youth (minimum age 9) is from $1,895. For details, see

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2024-25 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669) or visit the website at:

Day Trips on the Colorado River from Moab, Utah offer ways to accommodate a rafting excursion, be it for a half or full day while in Moab. Each program offers guests a choice of a paddle boat, with everyone manning a paddle or two-person inflatable kayak. The rate for each trip includes a complimentary flip-top water bottle, snacks, transportation to and from the river, complimentary hotel pickup available upon request, lifejackets, rafting equipment, and guides. See (from sister company Moab Adventure Center)

About Western River Expeditions

Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah, and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October, it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho, and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (

Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah and Idaho rafting, and international multi-sport trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. In 2023 it was chosen by the readers of USA Today 10Best as the #2 rafting company in the nation. The company is also the proud recipient of the "Best of State" award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for the past twenty consecutive years (2004-2023).

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