Whitewater rafting is the perfect adventure activity. It provides a great adrenaline rush with minimal risk, and children as young as 8 are allowed to join in the fun. That being said, there are some things that first-timers should bear in mind before grabbing a paddle and hitting the waves:

Pay attention to the safety talk. While serious mishaps are generally rare, it’s important to know what steps to take in case of what some guides refer to as an “unscheduled swim.”

Tip your guide. A 10 to 20 percent gratuity is customary.

Dress for the experience. Wetsuit and bootie rentals are usually available, but make sure to wear a moisture-wicking fabric underneath.

Here’s the rundown on some of the best whitewater rafting locations that North America has to offer.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon Branch

The Grand Canyon provides some of the most jaw-dropping scenery anywhere, and a rafting trip is an awesome way to experience both the majesty of the Colorado and the unique beauty of the canyon. Looking for more thrills? Combine the raft ride with a zip-lining tour. Both activities combined are sure to be a thrill for the whole family.

Kennebec River

Most Maine tourists make a beeline for the ocean, but the rugged splendor of the North Woods is tough to beat. From the Taster to Black Brook Rapids, the Kennebec is an excellent “starter course” for first-timers, and perfect for the whole family. Northern Outdoors resort provides the perfect base camp for a backwoods adventure.

Chattooga River

The crown jewel of South Carolina, this river offers Class III-IV rapids for an exhilarating, unforgettable ride. Set in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, it’s a must for anyone who prefers a warmer climate for their outdoor adventures. Try Wildwater Rafting guides for the complete “mountain meets river” experience.

Nahatlatch River

Located in British Columbia, this is the ultimate destination for those who truly want to get away from it all. Remote and thrilling, the Nahatlatch rapids are accessible through REO Rafting. Those who try it will never forget it.

Youghiogheny River

The “Yock,” which travels through sections of Maryland and Pennsylvania, offers rapids from Class II to IV, making it an ideal option for novices. Try booking through Wilderness Voyageurs, and note that children must be at least 12 years of age to participate.