During the winter, many people trade in their paddles for skis. Not everyone, though. Jordan Valley Outfitters in East Jordan offers guided winter rafting trips December through March along the scenic Jordan River.
The local eco-tour business has been offering the tours since 1999. The current owners, Dan and Melanie Bennett, purchased the business last summer after previously working as guides and are continuing the winter adventures.
“While you’re on the river it feels like you’re in a snow globe,” Dan says. “Our Jordan is very scenic. In the winter, it’s nice to slow down and enjoy the ride. Also, there’s more of a current in the winter, so we’re not making as much paddling noise, and we see a lot more wildlife.”
Paddling experience isn’t necessary since each tour is led by a guide who controls the raft. “There are some areas where the guide may ask for help,” Melanie says. “There are up to four guests paddling, so depending on your group size, you can choose to sit where you won’t have to paddle.”
During the winter, Dan and Melanie are directly involved in orchestrating and guiding the trips. They have taken guests as young as 4 years old on the trips as well as several into their 70s and above.
“We really get to know our customers out on the river, and there’s a lot of one-on-one interaction,” Dan says. “We have a lot of fun. We’re both from the area, but you don’t really appreciate an area until people tell you how beautiful and great it is. Then you truly realize how lucky you are.”
Melanie noted that guests do have to walk through snow to get to the river, and there is a small hill at the end of the trip with Jordan Valley Outfitters. The temperature can vary during the winter and it’s important to dress accordingly. It’s especially important to cover your fingers and toes, and to dress in layers.
“Some people say they’re afraid to go rafting, but we encourage everyone to try it,” Dan says. “It’s not a whitewater adventure, and you’ll see a beauty you’ve never experienced before.”
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