rafting 1
Credit: Holiday River Expeditions

This season marks the 48th year Holiday River Expeditions (http://www.bikeraft.com/) has run the wild rivers of Utah, Colorado and Idaho. It began as a family business and today, three generations of Holladays are still actively involved in the company.

"As a multi-generational company we understand better than anyone the importance and value of how carving out uninterrupted time to be together in a wilderness setting strengthens family bonds," explains President John Wood, son-in-law of the founders Dee and Sue Holladay.

A recent guest who brought her extended family along for a trip had this to say about the experience, "In four days, we spent more time together than we have in years together in the summers," explains Tricia Paisley, who celebrated her mother's 70th birthday on the San Juan River with her large family. "The setting equalized the playing field, everyone wasn't going separate directions. We were all involved in the same activity and experiencing the novelty of this trip together." Quite a feat when you consider the range of abilities and fact that there were a gaggle of cousins ranging in age from 6 on up to 18.

As active river vacations that include extended family continue to grow in popularity it is important to know how to qualify and select the best outfitter for your clan, what you can do while on the trip to maximize enjoyment and how to best cherish and remember the experience long after it ends. The family travel experts of Holiday River Expeditions offer these tried and true suggestions:

Petzhold family
Credit: Holiday River Expeditions

Before You Go - Choosing a trip, vetting an outfitter:

Have your entire family powwow to discuss what each person wants to do on the river and make sure the oldest and youngest voices are heard. River choices, time of year, class of rapids, type of craft, off-river attractions all factor into a raft trip experience.

Check what activities are offered, ability to easily cater to different age groups and interests on a single trip, safety record, guide experience, references, etc.

Be clear in questioning the outfitter; will we be pampered or do we rough it? Be clear about what you want; type of boats and inflatable's used on the river, level of luxury, if there's a kid's counselor along, food, temperatures, anything and everything that matters.

Make sure activities offered include a chance for family members to have a little break from one another, too. Parents can go on the optional hike while grandparents stay with the kids in camp to swim, fish, or play a game of bocce.

On the Trip - How to maximize family enjoyment:

Try planning a theme for each night of the trip and dress accordingly (pirates, black tie formal night, groovy 70's, cross-dress night, etc.

Play "Christmas on the River" and ask that everyone bring a gift to an evening gathering. Gifts could be made by hand on the trip (perhaps a necklace made from shoe laces adorned with leaves from a cottonwood tree), found along the way (a perfectly smooth, multi-colored river stone), or brought from home. Then do a white elephant gift exchange and get ready for the laughs.

Buy sarongs for everyone, (they are practical to cover up when the sun beats down) but also see how many creative ways you can use them! Toga party? Head wrap, Dress, camp or boat flag, etc.

After the Trip - How to best reminisce and treasure those great memories:

Get a photo book made from everyone's pictures. Holiday has a "Shutterfly Page" for guests to upload their photos and make their own book or slideshow.

Come up with a plan before the trip starts. Instruct each family member to keep a mini journal and jot down the best thing that happened each day. One volunteer compiles all the memories into keepsake journals (digital or print) for everyone.

Over the holidays or next big family gathering, present a slideshow or custom video of the trip, complete with music, narration, and/or captions.

Social share your trip photos and post to Holiday's online "Photo Contests". You just might win another trip!


multigen campfire
Credit: Holiday River Expeditions

Here are Holiday Expeditions' top three rafting trips for multi-generational family groups.

Idaho - Lower Salmon River Canyons (5 yo and up) - Possibly the best family rafting trip in the West; playful rapids (perfect for inflatable kayaking) and huge sandy beach camps for frisbee, bocce ball and volleyball, beautiful alpine wilderness setting. Four day trips in July, Aug. and Sep.

Utah - Green River through Desolation Canyon (5 yo and up) - This is the country, where Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch hid from the law. A river trip here means large sandy beaches, beginner level whitewater with rolling wave trains, kid friendly hiking and exploring, wildlife and outlaw remnants. The trip begins with a flight over the canyon to the put-in. Five and six day trips in May, June, July, and Aug.

Utah - Green River through Lodore Canyon (8 yo and up) - In the heart of Dinosaur National Monument, dramatic scenery with deep narrow canyons and colorful rock formations. Highlights include bighorn sheep, birds of prey, waterfalls, rock art, caves and intermediate level whitewater. Four day trips depart two to three times a week in May, June, July, Aug. and Sep.

About Holiday River Expeditions

Holiday River Expeditions (http://www.bikeraft.com/) began in 1966, when Dee Holladay and his wife Sue took the plunge to become river outfitters. Due to its respect for the lands, rivers, guests and employees, the family-owned-and-operated company has grown exponentially. Each of its guides is professionally trained in first aid and river safety, and with over 47 years of experience, the company provides guests the opportunity to explore the nation's wild lands safely and securely. Holiday River Expeditions has a philosophy to protect the environment through education and conservation, and as such, uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.

For more information, availability, reservations or a copy of the 2014 catalog please call 800-624-6323, Email: Holiday@BikeRaft.com or log onto: http://www.bikeraft.com/.

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