Whitewater rafting is one of the most adventurous things to experience. If you want your trip to be thrilling, you should try a destination where you can go river rafting. River rafting has become the talk of the town as it is the best way to experience the natural beauty of the planet Earth.
Whitewater rafting has many degrees of rafting and depends on the risk involved in a particular rafting journey. These rivers are divided into various classes. The division is done because of the customer preference as some prefer class I whitewater rafting which is calm and composed.
Some customers prefer the middle category which may be class III or IV. These have fast rapids with comparatively low risk.
The third category is the class V category which is the most challenging and scariest only experienced rafters or guides opt for this type of rapids. Generally, tourists prefer the class III and IV category.
Globally, you will find infinite options for choosing a destination for whitewater rafting. But the US has the maximum number of whitewater rafting destinations in the entire world, especially the North American region.
The sites here are beautiful and exciting, and you can spend your whole trip exploring these beautiful sites.
So, here we are providing you with a list of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the US.
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Whitewater Rafting in the USA
- 1. Colorado River, Arizona
- 2. Gauley River, West Virginia
- 3. Salmon River, Idaho
- 4. Rogue River, Oregon
- 5. Arkansas River, Arkansas, and Colorado
- 6. Nenana River, Alaska
- 7. Youghiogheny River, Pennsylvania
- 8. Kennebec River, Maine
- 9. Deerfield River, Massachusetts
- 10. Chattooga River, South Carolina
- 11. Snake River, Idaho
- 12. Tuolumne River, California
- 13. Rio Grande, New Mexico
- 14. Cumberland Falls, Kentucky
- 15. Cossatot River, Arkansas
- Final Thoughts
15 Best Whitewater Rafting in the USA
1. Colorado River, Arizona
On average the river is calm and composed of class II to III rapids. Sometimes the class category goes up to class VI due to high waves and the water speed. This can be extremely challenging and thrilling as well.
Many whitewater river rafting companies provide full-fledged rafting packages to tourists. These packages range from a half-day to a two-week-long vacation. The rafting here at Colorado River is in high demand, and you have to book two years in advance.
People generally get attracted to this rafting destination due to its unique orange view of the Grand Canyon that they cannot find anywhere else.
The rafting journey generally starts from the Hualapai Reservation then passes through the beautiful Grand Canyon. This experience s the best white water rafting in the US, and once you start visiting you will always come back.
2. Gauley River, West Virginia
Gauley River at West Virginia will provide you with the most challenging experience. The place is quite in demand by people who are generally sporting lovers or who enjoy hardcore whitewater rafting adventures. If you’re ready to face any challenging experience that comes your way, then this is the place to be.
The rapids are categorized as class V or sometimes even above that. of course, it can be scary, but some rafters are used to it.
Gauley River whitewater rafting is rated the most challenging rafting journey, and the number of rapids here is around a hundred. The view of the site is beautiful with a remote kind of a landscape and of course the exclusive variety of wildlife as well.
If you are a beginner in whitewater rafting, then go to the Upper New River where it’s comparatively calm. It is totally up to you whether you want to experience the rapids or not.
But before planning a trip here, make sure you know how to swim. This is because West Virginia’s Gauley river has the most challenging rapids, and you can easily fall into the river.
3. Salmon River, Idaho
Salmon River situated in Idaho is the most beautiful whitewater rafting destination in the US because apart from rafting you get to explore other things out here. This will make your whitewater rafting trip a memorable one for sure. The basic whitewater rafting journey starts from the Middle Fork Salmon River.
There are around 300 challenging rapids on the Salmon River, and almost all fall in class III and IV categories.
The drops here are stunning and will pour your heart into your mouth. Apart from whitewater rafting, you can explore other things like the wildlife which comprises Black Bears, the Bighorn Sheep, and Mountain Lions.
This scenic river offers breathtaking and the perfect backdrop for your pictures which comprises grasslands, Canyons, and the forest area.
You can also camp out here since there are some camping sites around the river. So, all in all, the area is a mixture of adventure and natural beauty. This is why you must explore once for sure.
See Related: Best Hiking Trails in America
4. Rogue River, Oregon
Rogue River is also considered one of the most challenging whitewater rafting sites in the US. This is due to the fast-moving raids and of course the waterfalls.
The River flows from the Cascade Mountains and ends up in the Pacific Ocean, and the flow of the river is along the Southwest region of Oregon.
Rogue River is surrounded by beautiful green Canyons that are dense. The rapids here are also thrilling, especially the Raine Falls, which are class V rapids.
Then there are the Upper and Lower Black Bar Falls which are comparatively calmer and fall in the class III category, and of course not to forget the Blossoms Bar which is the scariest rapid of the Class V category.
But if you are a beginner and only come to relax and do relaxed rafting, then plan your whitewater rafting trip at the Hog Creeks.
This is because the Argo rapids are the best suit you. You will also get to see some quite exclusive varieties of birds like the Osprey, Heron, and the Eagle out here.
5. Arkansas River, Arkansas, and Colorado
Many companies have set up tourist businesses at the location. They will offer you a variety of tourist and rafting packages which range from a half-day package to 15 days long packages.
The river is surrounded by the white mountains of Colorado. This in turn will make your whitewater rafting experience even more thrilling and exciting.
The journey of rafting generally starts from the Buena Vista moving along the Brown Canyons of the Colorado where the rapids are quite high falling in the class III category.
The most famous ones are the Zoom Fume and of course, the Big Drop which can give you a heart attack. So, to experience one of the most thrilling adventures, you must visit the Arkansas River. You can plan out a weeklong trip and opt-in for a camp to make your trip an unforgettable one.
6. Nenana River, Alaska
Situated in Mt. McKinley, which is a huge glacier in the Alaska region of the US, the Nenana River is the most famous whitewater rafting destination. The rapids here are extremely challenging ranging from class V to class VI category and the rafting journey is up to ten miles long.
Surrounded by the beautiful white Alaska Mountains, the river will give you an amazing experience for sure. You will explore a wide variety of wildlife here like Eagles, Wild sheep, etc.
You can also book your rafting package at the Denali Outdoor Centre which is the oldest and the most trusted tourist company out there.
The rafting should be planned during the daytime as the rapids are the most thrilling during the day. So, to enjoy a glacial and cold rafting experience, you must visit the Alaska Range and ensure the beauty of the location.
7. Youghiogheny River, Pennsylvania
The best thing about the site is that is open for tourists for almost the whole year and the best time to visit are between March and October. This river has high-ranked rapids that generally fall between the class of III and IV levels.
Another great point of the location is that it is just a 30-minute drive from Pittsburgh. This makes it quite accessible for tourists.
The river is famously nicknamed the Yough River. It is quite adventurous with a lesser amount of risk and more amount of excitement.
The most famous rapids are the Double Hydraulics and the Railroad these can make you feel dizzy for some moments. So, if you are an adventurous junky and love challenges then this whitewater rafting destination is the best for you.
8. Kennebec River, Maine
This Kennebec River situated in Maine is a must-visit for white water rafting. Your trip will turn out to be the most enduring and exciting for you. The river rafting journey starts from the famous Harris Station Dam and the journey continues with unexpected challenges.
The best time for rafting is during the day when the rapids are at their best falling into the category of class III and IV which can be quite a thrilling experience.
The rafting journey is around 12 miles long, and it includes the famous and scariest rapids of Kennebec River, The Three Sisters, and the most challenging the drop of the Magic Falls that can give you a stroke if you are weak at heart.
The river area has some tourist companies to provide you with great packages for river rafting. This includes equipment, guides, and a proper travel map. So, to experience the most harrowing rapids of the US, you must visit this place once.
See Related: Best Holiday Destinations for Couples
9. Deerfield River, Massachusetts
This river is located on the North-Eastern side of America where river rafting is quite rare. Deerfield River in Massachusetts acts like a lifeline for whitewater rafting adventurers. The location is a two-hour drive from the city of Boston, this means it is easily accessible as well.
The best area for white water rafting is the famous Monroe Bridge Dryway where the rapids are at their extreme ranging from class IV to V level which will give you a full-on thrilling experience.
The river flows from Vermont to Massachusetts at the North West. Apart from the rapids, the rafting journey comprises other challenges as well. This includes the huge Rocky Mountains and the deep holes that are scary and risky.
The river is surrounded by a beautiful forests known as the Berkshires Forest, where you can camp out and relax. You can even plan an outdoor barbecue party and cook your favorite fish, crab,, or lobster.
10. Chattooga River, South Carolina
The Chattooga River is located in South Carolina or Georgia. It’s a wild river with extremely thrilling rapids to make your whitewater rafting journey an unforgettable experience. The rapids here are quite a number and range from class III and class V categories.
Chattooga River is quite old, and its clear blue water looks beautiful as it flows. This location is considered the most rugged and wild rafting destination in the Southeast of the US.
Apart from that, you can also explore hiking and mountain biking at Asheville. You will also find delicious food and other entertaining things. So, for a wild experience in rafting, you must visit this place.
11. Snake River, Idaho
The rapids here are extreme and range from class III to V, making it a challenging experience for rafters. The Snake River is also known for its beautiful scenery, with towering mountains and rushing waterfalls.
Different companies offer rafters the opportunity to explore the Snake River, with packages that include equipment, guides, and a travel map. The best time to go rafting on the Snake River is in the summer months when the water is at its highest.
See Related: Best Tourist Destination in the World
12. Tuolumne River, California
Tuolumne River has something for everyone, from beginner rafters to those looking for a more challenging experience. The Cherry Creek River area offers commercial excursions with 15 consecutive Class V Rapids.
This is one of the most challenging whitewater rafting experiences in the country! So if you’re looking for an adventure, be sure to check out the Tuolumne River.
13. Rio Grande, New Mexico
The river is known for its Class IV and V rapids, which can provide an adrenaline rush like no other. However, the Rio Grande is also a great place for beginners, thanks to its more mellow sections.ts
The Rio Grande is known for its intense Class IV and V rapids, which can provide an adrenaline rush like no other.
If you’re looking for a wild white water rafting experience, look no further than the Rio Grande. However, the Rio Grande is also a great place for beginners, thanks to its more mellow sections.
14. Cumberland Falls, Kentucky
Rafting at Cumberland Falls is a great way to experience the beauty of Kentucky’s natural landscape.
The river is known for its calm and gentle waters, perfect for those who are new to rafting. However, there are also a few sections that offer a bit more excitement, including some Class III rapids.
If you’re looking for a white water rafting experience that offers something for everyone, then be sure to check out Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. With its calm and gentle waters, the river is perfect for those who are new to rafting.
But don’t worry – there are also a few sections that offer a bit more excitement, including some class III rapids. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rafter, Cumberland Falls is sure to please.
15. Cossatot River, Arkansas
The Cossatot River in Arkansas is a popular spot for white water rafting, thanks to its exciting rapids and beautiful scenery. The river is home to dozens of rapids, providing something for everyone. For experienced rafters, the Cossatot Falls Trail offers 11 miles of challenging Class IV+ rapids.
Now that you know the best place to go white water rafting, it’s important to take some safety precautions. Always wear a life jacket and make sure you’re familiar with the river before setting out. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and water, and don’t forget your camera!
The ten destinations listed are only a taste of the best white water rafting in US.
There are countless other great rivers and rapids to explore, so get out there and find your own adventure! These rivers offer a diverse range of experiences for rafters of all levels, so everyone can enjoy this exciting activity.
- Best Family Vacation Spots in the World
- Breathtaking Camping Spots in the World
- Best Tropical Vacations Spots in the World
Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.
You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.