And that’s a wrap! September 27th marked the official end of our 2021 rafting season, a bittersweet moment as we enter the fall and winter months. Our warehouses are closed, our guides are off on their next adventures, and our phone line has grown much quieter. As we take this time to exhale after a busy year, it’s difficult not to reflect on the incredible season we pulled off!
Our 2021 Response to COVID
COVID created challenges for all river outfitters to overcome. We had to maintain the health of rafters while curating fun and memorable experiences. For months, we read CDC updates, attended (virtual!) outfitter meetings, and revised our protocols. By working with other outfitters, we were able to communicate how best to approach the 2021 rafting season.
We are proud to say that Northwest Rafting Company did not have any known transmission of the virus on our trips in 2020 or 2021!
This season, we decided to take a middle of the road approach to managing COVID. Our protocols included requiring masks in shuttle vehicles and creating an environment that allows for social distancing in camp. We also added a new section to our registration forms that allowed guests to inform us of their vaccination status and offer opinions on the virus. This helped us frame each trip based on the collective comfort levels of our guests.
“After the crazy year-plus of COVID, we were so happy to be able to take an adventurous family vacation.”
While we are stoked to overcome the obstacles set by the pandemic, we understand that it is an ongoing concern. We will spend the off-season prepping for future protocols to keep our guests in 2022 healthy.
A Season in Numbers
Though COVID was still a major factor for all travelers to consider, 2021 was easily our busiest season yet!
From February through September, our guides led 934 guests on 68 trips. This is a record compared to our previous high of 775 guests on 60 trips in 2019! To put this season into perspective, this means that we served over 3600 eggs at breakfast alone and around 250 lbs of coffee this season!
40 students joined our online rowing school for a socially distant learning experience while 130 students joined us for on-river instruction. We also hosted the most Class III Rowing Schools of any season–eight in total–with 95 students!
“We all agreed this was an amazing adventure on a remote and beautiful river while camping comfortably every night…We’ll definitely be back next year!”
While we prefer to measure the success of a season based on trip quality–not quantity–we are stoked to see the rafting industry blossom! At the end of the day, our goal is to introduce people to the wonders of wilderness ecosystems. Whether we are on a family trip on the Rogue or training Class IV rowers on Hood River, we couldn’t be more proud to lead adventurous explorers on river expeditions. We can’t wait to spend time with both new and old friends on our rivers in 2022!
An Amazing Team
After running our trips in 2020 at around half capacity, our guides swiftly transitioned into leading full trips that were reminiscent of pre-COVID times.
New members of the NWRC family were quick to learn the ropes while seasoned veterans were eager to train them in all things multi-day rafting. Simply put, we could not have accomplished our work this season without the leadership, dedication, and enthusiasm of our guides.
With a few guides pursuing advanced degrees or new careers, we want to wish them all the best of luck in the next chapter of their lives! In 2022, we will be introducing some new faces to the crew and we are excited to train the next team of river legends.
“The guides acted as a family who cared about each other and others…We left six days later having all had the time of our lives. I directly contribute that to the guides.”
What is Next?
Though our trips are no longer running, we still have plenty of work to do! From gear maintenance to designing new merch (stay tuned!), we are already hard at work prepping for 2022!
For those who are eager to get on the river, we are offering private instruction throughout fall and spring. We also run an online Whitewater Rowing Course for those who prefer to learn at their own pace.
“NWRC makes you want to come back year after year! They bring out the best in you and each of their guests.”
Thank you for sticking with us throughout the 2021 season, and we look forward to hitting the river with you in 2022!