Rafting down the Truckee River in Reno

It was a clear blue Sunday morning and the temperature was supposed to reach the low 90s. My boyfriend and I were off to spend Father’s Day rafting down the Truckee River with our two friends and their daughter.

We packed up our cheap rafts, oars, water and sunscreen and headed to Dorostkar River Park, off of Mayberry Drive in Reno. We piled out of the truck, got creative and used an air mattress pump to pump up our rafts.

After we got the rafts pumped up and into the Truckee River, we slid (none-too-gracefully) into them and started our almost five-mile trek from Dorostkar Park to Wingfield Park in downtown Reno.

Within 10 minutes, the bottom of our raft was already flat. As we hit rapids, trees and rocks, we had to lift our entire body off of the raft and lie straight in order for our bodies to survive the abuse.

Within the first 15 minutes, our raft was filled with water. Not because it was leaking (we had a hole but it wasn’t affecting us) but because the rapids and the jarring against rocks would splash water into our boat.

As my boyfriend tried to paddle us to safety, I was cupping my hands and trying to bail water out. As you might be able to guess, it didn’t work too well.

I gave up using my hands and dumped out the water in our only water bottle and tried to use the bottle to get some of the water out. The rapids were getting too crazy and there was more water splashing into our boat than there was getting out.

Somewhere between us swimming in our raft, getting our bodies bashed against rocks and running into a cove of trees, we decided that we really did buy a cheap boat.

Rafters, beware. Somewhere near Idlewild Park, there is a drop-off. By drop-off, I mean we would have fallen out of our boats and be swimming had we attempted the drop-off with our flat rafts. However, there were some brave folks who attempted the drop-off and made it through alive and OK. Stay to the far left when you approach it. If not, you will be going over rocks and those hurt a little bit more.

About four hours later, we finally floated into Wingfield Park. As soon as we hit the last rapid, I was swept out of the raft and gasping for air as I grappled for my boyfriend’s arm. I survived but I can’t say the same for our air mattress pump, water bottle, oar, bag of Wheat Thins and my shirt.

Despite the bruises I had, the killer sunburns the men got and the $30 worth of things floating down the Truckee River, we all had a blast. I’m sure we will do it again soon, hopefully this time with a more sturdy raft.

By Heather Lara, Nevada Commission on Tourism

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