Travel reviews on SingleDad.com. This week, we review Alaska River Rafting with Nova River Runners and take on Six Mile Creek, Alaska’s most challenging class IV and V whitewater rafting. Watch our Video and read our review.
Travel Destination: Alaska
River Rafting, Nova
10-days, 6 family
members, 1-RV: What was I thinking?
My family and I were on a travel assignment this past summer
in Alaska to discover some of the great family adventures that the 49th state
has to offer. My wife Beth and I coordinated 8 major activities over the course
of 10 days while traveling in a 31-foot RV. Over the course of the next few months, I will be sharing
each of those activities, along with some travel tips I learned along the way in
Alaska. As I reflect on this
travel blog, I had to ask myself this question:
How could I cram all these activities with a family of 6
trapped in a RV for 10-days and still try to have a good time? What was I
Nova River Runners
About 2 hours South of Anchorage on the Alaskan Highway is a
turn off to Hope, Alaska. It is here where a small, converted school bus, with
a "Nova" logo painted, pulled up to a large vacant lot. The team and guides of Nova River
Runners spilled out of the bus and begun the process of outfitting their guests
and educating them on the skills of River Rafting.
As my family of six watched the crew unload the bus, we were
all checked-in and outfitted with Helmets, Dry-Suits, Life Jackets and Shoes.
This equipment is provided by Nova and you can anticipate wearing your standard
clothes underneath. (The water is cold, so I recommend jeans and sweatshirt).
After all parties were checked in and outfitted, we left the vacant lot and
piled into the school bus where our next stop would be the staging area on the
After a 15-minute bus ride, my family and I were dropped off
at the riverbank where we met our guide, "Scotty" and learned about river
swimming skills required for this tour. This is when I began to feel a little
anxious. As I listened to Scotty use terms like, "Survival Swimming,
Self-Rescue Swimming, and Dangerous Rapids" in his lecture, I began questioning
if this event was really worth the danger…
On of the final tests before boat launch was taking a brief,
"Self Rescue" test. This test involved having each of my family members do the
- Walk out to the river
- Dive into the water
- Swim to the middle of the river
- Paddle with Hands and Kick with your feet as hard as you can
- Float on your back
- Swim to the opposite shore
As a Father, it was difficult watching my youngest children
do this test without me assisting them, however, in the end; I understood how important
this test was for everyone to take. The fact is, people fall out of the boat
and must understand the basic technique on how to stay alive if you get stuck
in the river rapids. As each of my
four children and wife went, I watched helplessly. They all succeeded with the
swim test and I was relieved. It was now time to load our boat and start our
My Family, The Cast
I am the type of Father that wants to believe that my
children want to spend every summer vacation as a family. Yes, I am in a little
bit of denial, but I was pleasantly surprised when my oldest daughter, who is
19 years old and in college joined us on the trip. I was also pleased that my
17-year old son was part of this trip, especially going into his senior year of
high-school and would not have the internet and cell service, (Yes, it is a
blessing that Alaska has very little internet and cell service). My other two
daughters are still at the age where being a "Teen and Tween" has not made them
into the "Eye Roll Twins" and they actually like to be around Mom and Dad.
The Adventure and the
As we loaded onto our raft, the first thing I noticed was
that there are no seats. Half of your body was hanging on the outside of the
raft, while the other half was comfortably safe in the raft. There was one,
"foot sleeve" used to place your foot for leverage during the paddling down the
river. Somehow, I do not recall what my other foot was doing during the entire
ride because I was too busy watching my two youngest daughters in front of me.
My wife Beth and I strategically placed the two youngest
ones in the middle, while each of the older kids sat opposite of us. When we
got to the more challenging, Third Canyon, the younger ones were dropped off to
the Nova Ground Support Crew as the remaining four adults challenged the Class
One of the first in-boat lessons that our guide Scotty
taught us was the importance of teamwork and paddling in unison. When we paddle
at the same time, the boat goes straight, when we don’t, we go sideways and
then backwards; It is not safe to go backwards in the rapids. Get it?
Scotty took us through the "paddle drills" and like all
great river guides; he stayed loud, calm and confident with his orders. We kept
the boat straight, nobody fell out of the boat, and I was exhausted from the
workout and post adrenaline buzz.
If you are going to ride the Six Mile Canyon Run, I
definitely recommend riding the Third Canyon. This third canyon is going to
test you in every way possible. It has more non-stop action of paddling,
bouncing, and keeping focused on your river guide who is shouting at you to
keep the boat forward. I was proud of my wife and two older children as I
watched them meet every challenge that the river and Scotty had thrown at us.
In the end, we were all rewarded with "Paddle Clap" (like a high Five with
Paddles) and my two oldest jumped into the now benign creek that slowly pushed
our raft back to the landing stage. We unloaded, met our younger girls on
shore, and headed back to the RV to continue our travels in Alaska.
The Six-Mile Creek hosts some of the largest, Class IV and V
rapids that the state has to offer. Believe me, this is no creek. There are
three distinct canyons that funnel the river to a creek-sized body of water
that creates some of the fastest moving rapids in Alaska. Each canyon
progressively gets more challenging, with narrow routes, steep drops, and
adrenaline pumping rapids. There
are age and size limits for the Six-Mile Creek run, especially on the third
canyon which has a majority of the Class V rapids; so be sure to check on the
Nova website, (Click Here) for the latest information on rules and restrictions or Call: 800-746-5753
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”