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Rafting 101


The Kicking Horse River our home and Hydra River Guides is privileged to operate on this stunning body of water. We operate rafting trips from the middle of May until the middle of September and during that time we witness some unique characteristics of spring, summer and early autumn. We want our guests to know what they will experience in terms of river level and wildlife they might observe if they book at a certain time of year.


Spring — Experience the Rebirth of the Mountains
Spring brings the rejuvenation of the flora and fauna in the area. The Kicking Horse River starts the spring running very low and crystal clear as no glacial sediment has started to run. As the season advances, the river will start to turn the color with the gradual depositing of silt from the glacial melt and the mud in the side creeks flowing into the river. The rainfall will help raise water levels and as a result, the river will have a low flow and the rapids will be much slower moving. Hydra begins operating in mid-May and by late May to early June the river will be much higher and running fast with impressive waves and rapids. The wildlife around the river begin to become more active as well. You might see a bear on the lower elevations looking for the first green shoots as the sun warms up the lower valleys.

Summer — Experience the Mountain and Water in Full Activity
In the heart of summer, the rising heat melts the snow pack at the higher altitudes and glaciers continue to thaw causing a surge in the flow of the river. The rapids will be fast with large waves. The river will be a chalky, milky white colour from the glacial silt. Early summer sees many deer, elk, even bears travelling lower in the mountains in search of easily available, fresh vegetation. Hot days and cold water are a great combination to attract animals. Goats are often seen on the mountain cliffs licking mineral deposits. Also, dandelions thrive at this time of year and are a big favorite with the bears, so it might be an opportune time to spot a bruin. A day out on the water, in the sun, you can't get much better way to spend a summer day.

Fall — Experience the Peace and Relaxation of the Slower Season
As fall approaches, the water level of the river will begin to recede as the cooler nights. We run up until the middle of September and the paddle rafting is still amazing up until closing day. You will find it's not as busy on the river and we can more easily accommodate you on which ever day you wish because we aren't as swamped with bookings. Don't worry about a shortage of wildlife either. The berries in the low valleys are ripening and the bears come down off the mountains to devour them in preparation for the deprivation of winter. If you listen closely you may hear a distant male elk bugle as he looks for mating partners. With leaves start to turn bright yellows, reds, and orange it's a great time to book a rafting trip.

Discover how beautiful and challenging the Kicking Horse River can be at any time of year. Contact Hydra River Guides at 1 (800) 644-8888, or send us an e-mail at to learn more about the river and our rafting packages.