Floating the river this season? Paddle Wise.

A responsibility code for river runners. 7 principles to be your best self on the water.

Paddling is a great way to get outdoors and connect with nature. Being safe on the water is important, but paddlers should also act responsibly on and off the water.

American Whitewater, along with NRS, recently collaborated to bring a message of responsibility to river runners called Paddle Wise. (#paddlewise) The initiative’s goal is to help reduce the increasing number of accidents with the rise in new user participation.

As river users, it’s up to us to help educate others and to help protect the rivers we love. Being proactive and promoting a positive notion of participation, will teach others the importance of keeping our public lands and our rivers thriving and accessible for everyone.


Paddle Wise Responsibility Code


  • Paddle within your ability
  • Keep your skills sharp
  • Communicate with your team on the river
  • Think for yourself
  • Don’t let bad decisions compound
  • Go big, but come home safe


  • Plan ahead
  • Consult existing beta
  • Understand International Scale of River Difficulty and your chosen river’s rating
  • Carry proper equipment including medical kit, spare paddle and emergency food/layers


  • Check weather and flow conditions
  • Check for closures and river regulations
  • Know your ability and your group’s ability
  • Understand surrounding landscape and escape routes
  • Research existing hazards, portages and critical features


  • Wear your PFD
  • Carry a throw rope, knife and other safety gear
  • Practice safe river running technique
  • Set safety where appropriate
  • Take a Swiftwater Rescue course
  • Practice whitewater rescue skills regularly


  • Share it
  • Everyone with the proper skillset is welcome
  • Find a mentor (join a group)
  • Be a mentor
  • Acknowledge indigenous stewardship and land
  • Be a positive part of the community


  • Leave no trace
  • Always be a river steward
  • Use existing access areas, trails and campsites
  • Pack it in
  • Pack it out
  • Use restroom facilities or bring your own waste disposal
  • Be aware of and remove micro-trash


  • Consider impacts to gateway communities
  • Consider impacts on other paddlers
  • Drive slowly
  • Park in designated areas
  • Respect closures
  • Be friendly and represent the whitewater community positively
  • Appreciate cultural resources but leave undisturbed

How Can I Help?  Take action.

Push for responsible river use.

Share the message of responsible river running by using the hashtag #paddlewise on social media. Post the Paddle Wise poster and already created graphics.

Get involved in stewardship efforts.

Join a local paddling club or river coalition. Participate in river cleanups, film festivals, and community celebrations.

Salmon Riverest

Join us Saturday, June 3, 2023 for Salmon Riverfest. As a community celebration of our great rivers, Salmon Riverfest is an annual fundraiser for the Salmon Whitewater Park. Salmon’s history is intimately connected to the river.

Learn more about being a safe, respectful and responsible river runner.

Participating in one of our River Camps, you will learn the fundamentals of whitewater, river safety, reading water, and more. Our goal is to offer the highest level of whitewater coaching in a fun and safe environment to help develop the next generation of river runners.

Explore our Learning Opportunities: