White water rafting is exhilarating. The feeling of water cascading over the bow of the boat and splashing in your face as your guide yells, “ALL FORWARD!”, and the way your paddle hits only air when you crest a wave. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite white water rafting destinations by regions around the US.
Wenatchee River in Washington State- The Wenatchee River is one of Washington state's most popular white water rafting destinations, with 14 miles of class III rapids with names like Drunkard’s Drop, Rock and Roll, and Snowblind. A typical Wenatchee trip starts in the mountain town of Leavenworth, WA and finishes in the sleepy town of Cashmere, WA before going on to become a tributary of the great and mighty Columbia River. Trips on the Wenatchee are a great one day trip for anyone 11 years and up and pricing starts around $70. For more information check out www.leavenworthriverrafting.com"Granny's Panties" on the Wenatchee River.
Rogue River in Oregon- If you’re looking for a wild and scenic trip in the Northwest, look no further than the Rogue River. While there are jet boat trips you can take to get up the river, why not go down it instead? Float from Grave Creek to Foster bar and spend 34 miles on class II-V rapids. Jet boats can’t make it up past the class V rapid Blossom Bar and can’t make it below Rainie Falls. This leaves you 21 miles of uninterrupted wilderness experience. Be sure to watch for wildlife and pack your gear up in proper equipment like bear canisters. Along the river there are several notable historical sites like author Zane Grey’s cabin at mile 15.2 miles. For a complete review of the trip take a look at the American White Water Association’s trip description here: https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/1541/#rapid100136.
White Salmon River in Washington State-For a quick and adventurous trip take a paddle on the White Salmon River. Start by guiding your raft down a hand rail on a steep trail to the bed of the canyon where the river resides. Then enjoy 8 miles of rapids through a steep and narrow canyon where the action never stops. Near the very end of the trip, hold on to your paddles and tuck down into the boat as your guide steers you over class 5 Husum Falls. The White Salmon lies opposite side of the Columbia River near Hood River, OR. Take a look at what running Husum Falls Looks like: http://youtu.be/vg8uRHxzU9Q
Central and South West:
Grand Canyon in Arizona-Perhaps the most famous rafting trip of all time, a trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a white water junkie’s dream. With trips as short as 5 days and as long as 17 days the Grand offers a variety of water and scenery. This is one of those trips where when someone invites you, you drop everything and go! For more information on permits and river trips go to http://www.grandcanyonwhitewater.com/.
Arkansas River in Colorado- The Arkansas River boasts the title of most commercially rafted river in the US. This river is located almost dead center in the state of Colorado and offers 150 miles of class II- IV rapids making it a suitable river for both families and white water diehards alike. For more information take a look at http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea.
Colorado River in Utah- Float the waters of the Colorado River as it travels through Utah and you’ll be rafting in the same water that runs through the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River originates at the base of the Rocky Mountains and has recently been reunited with ocean. Through Moab this river offers the walloping white water rafting experience you crave! Westwater Canyon offers Skull, Funnel Falls and Sock-It-To-Me Rapids for the most whitewater fun you can have in a short amount of time. Hell-To-Pay, Little Niagra and Satan's Gut are rapids on the Cataract Canyon Trip. There are a variety of hikes , waterfalls, and American historic sites alongside the river. Want to raft the Colorado through Utah? Find out more here: http://www.utah.com/raft/rivers/colorado.htm.
"Pillow Rock" on the Gauley River
Gauley River in West Virginia- The Gauley pulls people from both near and far as they release water from the Summersville Lake. Generally the “Gauley Season” starts the Friday after Labor Day and consists of 22 separate releases. The Gauley doesn’t offer multiday trips with camping, but it does offer a short run that can be run multiple times in a day. Pillow Rock is one of the most well-known and photographed rapids on the Gauley and is always a great place to stop and watch. The Gauley is suitable for children as young as 10. Want to schedule a trip? http://www.gauley.com/whitewater_rafting.htm
Nantahala River in North Carolina- Another East coast classic, the Nantahala River runs through a beautiful section of North Carolina near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Commercial rafting on this river did not start until the early 1970’s when the Nantahala Outdoor Center opened their doors along the river bank in the town of Bryson City, NC. Like many east coast rivers, the Nantahala is dam controlled and flows are dependent upon the release dates. There are two sections of the river that are commonly run. The Upper Run is generally more difficult and consists of class III-IV runs whereas the lower has a mellower 8 mile section of mostly class II-III rapids. The Nantahala Outdoor Center offers some great multi-sport trips with paddling and zip lining all in one day! http://noc.com/plan-your-trip/whitewater-rafting
Ocoee River in Chattanooga, TN- In the heart of the Appalachian Mountains lies the Ocoee River. This river is famous for holding the 1996 Summer Olympics white water course. With almost solid class III Rapids for 6 miles, it’s a swift and exciting paddle for anyone. Looking to schedule a trip on the Ocoee, look no further: http://ocoeerafting.com/.
Deerfield River in Massachusetts- If you’re up in the North Eastern most corner of the US and looking for a river to paddle, look no further than the Deerfield River. There are two raftable sections of the river, The Fife Brook section provides class II and III rapids, and the Dryway section offers something for more advanced paddlers with class IV rapids. Not only are the rapids on this river great, the fly fishing, camping, and hiking around here are superb. Take a trip to Charlemont for a great paddle down the Deerfield. http://www.zoaroutdoor.com/deerfieldriverrafting.htm
Wherever you are in the United States, chances are there's some white water nearby.
Originally Published: Jul 7, 2014