If you’re an avid fan of the outdoors and looking to explore some of America’s most spectacular regions of natural beauty, white water rafting is one of the best activities to do so.
White water rafting is not all about churning white water, waves, and thundering waterfalls. If you’re a beginner or just looking for something a little slower paced, there are plenty of rafting options across the United States to choose from.
This blog highlights some of the top spots worth adding to your rafting bucket list, so keep on reading for all the inspiration you need!
6 Rafting Destinations for a Lifetime of Memories
Before you go ahead and book your next adventure, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with the different difficulty levels of rafting. This way, you know which river rafting adventure is better-suited to your experience or the pace you’re looking for.
A class I rafting is generally slow-paced and relaxing, characterized by moving water and small waves that tug at your boat. Class II-III rafting is still fairly relaxed, with easy rapids to negotiate and a little thrill of excitement. Class IV-VI rapids are for the experienced white water rafter and require strength, stamina, and technical ability.
Now that you know a little more about rafting technicality, let’s get into America’s great white water rafting destinations:
1. The Salmon River – Idaho
The Salmon River runs through one of America’s largest roadless sections of the country, aside from Alaska, of course. This water rafting expedition runs along a course of 105-miles, offering plenty of white water and manageable rapids. Along the river banks, you can marvel at thick spruce forest and never-ending valleys.
If you’re a beginner rafter, it’s best to schedule a trip around June when the water tends to be at its lowest. There are two options for rafting along the river — a 6 or 10-day rafting adventure. Idaho is littered with many other incredible spots for river rafting, whether it’s a day trip or multi-day expedition.
Check out http://bearvalleyrafting.com/ if you’re interested in tackling Idaho’s Payette River.
2. The Colorado River – Grand Canyon
Even if you’re not a rafting or outdoor enthusiast, you’ve probably heard about the grandeur and many outdoor adventures to be had at the Grand Canyon.
For an iconic rafting trip, the Colorado River that snakes through the Grand Canyon is a once in a lifetime experience. It also offers rafting opportunities for everyone — experienced or not.
The river runs a course of 226 miles and offers churning white water and rapids, big holes and dips, as well as long sections of peaceful drifting and mindblowing canyon vistas. You can choose from a one-day adventure of Grand Canyon rafting or an expedition that spans 3-weeks.
3. Green River, Desolation Canyon – Utah
This is one of the best destinations for rafting newbies. The Green River is found 242 miles outside of Salt Lake City and offers plenty of rafting excitement with approximately 60 class II-III rapids to tackle.
It’s best to plan a multi-day rafting trip so you can get a true feel for the rafting experience. Ideally, you want to set aside about 5-days as there is so much more to do in this region besides rafting.
Tours of this region include rafting, canyon hiking, beach camping, as well as all your meals.
4. The Nenana River Gorge – Alaska
If you’re looking for untouched, wild, and rugged scenery then Alaska is your go-to. The Nenana River is located about 99-miles from the Nikolai Airport within the splendor of the Nenana River Gorge.
You can choose from half-day (around 4 hours) or full-day (around 7 hours) rafting tours of the river. A day-trip will set you back $100 per adult and includes a river tour guide, a riverside lunch, a drysuit, and your choice of a raft, and paddle.
You’ll get to experience the relaxed pace of class I-II rapids, then the excitement of a few class III-IV rapids in both half and full-day tours.
5. Cherry Creek – California
If you’re an experienced white water rafter and looking for a thrill, this is your ticket. Don’t let the name ”Cherry Creek” fool you. This rafting experience is one of the most technical and challenging in the U.S.!
Some of the challenges you’re up against include short, fast turns, crashing waves, and large and small rocks in your path. Not-to-mention, plenty of roaring rapids.
Cherry Creek is located just outside of the Yosemite National Park, so you can coincide your rafting trip with an exploration of this stunning area, too.
Before you embark on a tour of Cherry Creek, you’ll be required to attend an orientation, which includes Swiftwater training, navigation, and safety basics. You can choose from a one-day trip, which costs an average of $335. But this includes a professional guide, your meals, all safety gear, and the orientation.
The best time to raft Cherry Creek is from July-September.
6. The Royal Gorge – Colorado
The Royal Gorge has long been recognized as one of the top white water rafting regions in the U.S. Located just 50-miles from Colorado Springs, you’ll get to experience class IV rapids and more.
You’ll need plenty of experience, strength, and stamina to get through this rafting experience. So if you’re looking for a challenge, then this is one of the best options for you.
Bear in mind that rafters must be over the age of 14 in order to attempt this run and must have strong swimming skills. The scenery is spectacular, with the river flanked by towering canyon walls. Don’t miss the amazing sight of the Royal Gorge Bridge as you paddle beneath it.
A half-day trip costs an average of $80 per adult, while a full-day sets you back about $130.
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White water rafting is not for the faint-hearted, especially if you’re looking for the thrill of tackling class III rapids and more! But it’s a great way to get outdoors, connect with nature, and challenge yourself.
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