Whitewater rafting is one of those sports that is very welcoming to beginners. From the young to the not-so-young, whitewater rafting trips are diverse enough that practically anyone can join in and enjoy a different side to nature. In the United States, people are lucky enough to find several white water rafting trips, from a calm river trip to roller-coaster river trips. If you're looking for an unforgettable rafting adventure, here are some of the best whitewater rafting spots per state.
Tatshenshini River in Alaska
The river itself forms part of the Alsek River which is actually part of Canada. It's one of the more scenic rivers out there, providing travelers with a very "Alaska" experience as you drift over solid white glaciers. It's considered to be one of the more out-of-the-way rapids today with a classification of Class iii to Class iv rapids. In some parts of the river, the water flow is mild enough that even little kids can join in the raft for very relaxing mountain scenery.
Grand Canyon White Water Rafting in Colorado River, Arizona
No whitewater rafting bucket list would be complete without experiencing the Grand Canyon National Park. This is one of the best and most popular wilderness rivers in the United States, offering visitors the chance to experience all levels of whitewater rapids. The trip can include Class iv-v rapids but there are also portions of the river for beginners and intermediate rafting enthusiasts. This makes the Grand Canyon one of the more welcoming rivers out there, especially with days trips and multi-day trips offered for visitors. The National Park makes for an excellent activity because there are adventures, special interests, collections, and other attractions that can be had during the trip. For example, there are side hikes, historical sites, and even bird watching opportunities that can be had during the multi-day trip of the Colorado River.
Mulberry River of Arkansas
The Mulberry River is at its peak during the springtime, providing enthusiasts with a relaxing river rafting journey interspersed with some excitement. The river has class ii and iii rapids classification during the big water season. Come the drier times, however, the surface works best for swimming, fishing, or just gliding on the surface as you enjoy the scenic river view. The stretch eventually bridges with the Arkansas River but before that, enthusiasts can expect drops, waves, tight turns, and wildly scenic rides.
Idaho Springs Rafting Trips in Colorado
Hitting the Idaho Springs whitewater rafting experience means going through the Clear Creek Canyon course - one of the friendlier options in the United States. White water rafting trips can be a full day or half-day, covering anywhere from Class III to Class IV waves. While the routes aren't intensely scenic compared to the Colorado River, participants can definitely enjoy the relaxing shift from slow waves to more intense rapids. It's the kind of rafting trip where you're expected to get wet and happily tired at the end of the ride. River trips typically start in Many during the warmer season and with the rapids large enough to be challenging.
Yampa River of Colorado
Flowing through the northern part of Colorado, the Yampa River covers around 250 miles of water. This is a snow-fed reservoir with only about 3/4 of the way navigable. Those particular miles however can be fairly challenging with rivers classified at class 3and class iv rapids. While coursing through the river, it's fairly common for the boats to flip due to the turbulence of the water - but this isn't as hazardous as it sounds. Like other rivers, visiting the Yampa should be done outside of the summer season because these months render the area non-navigable. Since the rapids can easily welcome intermediate rafters, coursing through the Yampa is often an exercise of relaxation and sightseeing combined with bursts of adrenaline.
Tuolumne River California
The river itself flows for 149 miles - but the navigable portion for river rafting is just 18 miles, more or less. This doesn't mean the whitewater rivers aren't worth it however because the river offers Class iv rapids and above. With the classifications only going as high as VI, you can instantly tell that navigating the Tuolumne River requires a certain degree of expertise. You'll need some past rafting knowledge in Class 3 or 4 rapids in order to properly navigate a small raft on this wild and scenic ride. When we say "wild" however - we're not kidding. White water rafting trips in this river
Suwanee River in Florida
Located in Big Shoals State Park, the Suwanee River runs for 246 miles with the surrounding area dedicated to other activities. Rapids are classified as Class 3 during its peak season. Most whitewater rafting trip expeditions in the Suwanee River is accompanied by camping, fishing, hunting, and wildlife photography. At a Class III level, the big water of this Florida river welcomes practically all degrees of rafting enthusiasts - even the beginners. During the trip, participants can also enjoy side activities with padding trails, observation decks, and even archeological sites.
Deerfield River in Massachusetts
This North American river spans 73 miles worth of paddling, classified as either Class iii or class 4 for rafting. It also goes by the moniker "The Hardest Working River" because the Deerfield River stretch is the location of 10 dams, owned by electric utility companies. Rafting trip excursions are often scheduled upon dam releases, providing for excellent waves, rapids, paddling, and even trout fishing for some of the locals. The accompanying scenery around the river makes it perfect for complete beginners who want to enjoy the outdoors. There are also camping sites nearby if you're planning a multi-day trip.
Snake River in Wyoming - White Water Rafting Trips
Wyoming's Snake River has rapids classified at either class ii or class iii rapids. Hence, if you're looking for a beginner-friendly river, this is always a good option. At just 8 miles worth of rafting adventure, it's short enough to offer complete beginners the chance to try out their raft steering ability. Note though that the rapids can change depending on the date of the trips. Come springtime, the flow can go as high as Class iv so you'd want to be careful. This usually happens around the first week of the month of June when most whitewater rafting adventures are at their peak.
Middle Fork of the Salmon River - Idaho
Middle Fork of the Salmon River spans around 100 miles and makes for one very interesting river trip. The best rafting often happens around June to August with participants as young as 7 years old welcomed into the raft. Of course, the minimum and maximum age of the participants would typically depend on the depth of water at the time of the rafting trip. The middle fork waves are categorized as Class 3 to Class v so there are actually some sections of the Salmon River where additional experience is needed. This is often a multi-day trip, giving participants a chance to really enjoy the wild and scenic view in between rests.
Deschutes River in Oregon - Whitewater Rafting
The Deschutes River contains a mixture of Class I, Class II, and Class 3 rapids of difficulty - perfect for introductory courses to whitewater rafting. Like most rivers, the flow is towards the north, supplying a large portion of irrigation necessities in the area. Summer is the peak time for rafting in this river, there being two sections where you can enjoy the activity. There's the Big Eddy which is a short upriver ride with challenging courses. The lower section is more popular however and connects to the spectacular Shears Falls. Aside from being a favorite for white water rafting, however, the river is also globally famous for fly fishing activities. After scaling the waves, it's always a good idea to spend the rest of your trip enjoying this relaxing activity.
Athelstane in Wisconsin
This white water rafting course is for the really adventurous ones, especially since the rapids are confined to class 4 and class 5 waves. The cliffs are high and the turns are precarious - needing all your concentration in order to help guide the group through the course. The water is usually at its best during the springtime with very little recovery time in between the waves.
Gauley River in West Virginia
One of the more advanced rivers - the West Virginia Gauley River gets its Class 3 big water waves from September to October thanks to the dam releases during this time of year. More than 60,000 enthusiasts flock to West Virginia during these dates to experience both intermediate and expert waves. Those who want additional excitement in their lives can take on the Class V rapids of the river or perhaps just stick to the Class 3 flows where the scenery is much more welcoming. In either case, prepare to get wet and in some cases - your boat will flip thanks to the crash of the rapids.
Chattooga River in Georgia
Covering 26 miles worth of rapids, this river spans both the state of Georgia and South Carolina. Obviously, there's going to be tons of excellent scenes during the relaxing trip from one end to another. This is because the North Carolina Chattooga River has waves classified from I to III so there's not much excessive effort there. If this is your first time - the rapids will definitely be challenging enough to make a difference. If you've been to stronger rapids, however, this will be a wonderful time to just take in the surroundings.
Kennebec River in Maine
Spanning 7 miles worth of raft navigable water, the Kennebec River is perfect for beginner and intermediate enthusiasts thanks to its Class iii - iv rapids. Dubbed as the best rafting experience in Maine, the river has wonderfully clean waters and relaxing scenery to go with it. Enthusiasts can also take full advantage of the watering holes and waterfalls that form part of the side river trip.
Arkansas River, Colorado
Covering more than 100 miles of water, the Arkansas River is so long that a white water rafting trip can be chosen from different sections of the river. One of the best rivers in North America, this particular body of water happily welcomes beginners with Class I, II, and iii waves. For those who want a bit more excitement, however, you can try crossing out the Royal Gorge where Class iv and vi rapids can be found. Prepare for some swift turns and rapid flips as even the experienced rafters have a hard time with this exciting course!
Rogue River - Oregon
Sounds intimidating - but the Rogue River, Oregon is actually friendly to anyone taking a white water rafting trip for the first time. The rapids can be anywhere from Class I to Class IV - the excursions often taking 3 to 5 days to complete. During this time though, paddlers will experience all the other activities of the outdoors. There are swimming pools, homesteads, wildlife, and the scenery - creating an all-around intimate excursion with nature.
Illinois River in Illinois
The name itself tells you exactly where the river is located - but what does it say about this river's rafting course? Well, the Illinois River boasts of a fairly erratic flow with waves that are strictly within the Class iv and Class v range. The paddling experience here should be fairly advanced before you can sign up for the exciting course. It's definitely one of the more challenging courses out there as the river itself spans around 273 miles. Taking up the challenge of the Illinois River means experiencing the wilderness for several days including all the scenery that comes with it.
The United States is home to several rivers that's perfect for white water rafting trips. Many of these come with additional side facilities like hiking, hot springs, bird watching, fishing, camping, and so much more. Some of these rivers welcome complete beginners to rafting. Who knows? Once you start, there's a good chance you'll look for the excitement and just tick off all the rivers as part of your bucket list!
In case your adventurous spirit craves some outdoor fun when visiting a city, here is a list of 15 of them which have National Parks nearby!