11 Most Popular Rafting Spots in the U.S

11 Most Popular Rafting Spots in the U.S

Are you looking to enjoy the thrill of a lifetime?

U.S. rafting might just be the right way to go!

Conquering whitewater rapids that are challenging as well as exciting allows you to not only look forward to reaching the destination, but also truly enjoy the journey.

From laid-back river floats to high-energy rapids, we have conducted the relevant research and carried out necessary comparisons to come up with the most popular whitewater rafting spots in the U.S.

Here is a mini-guide to those spots to help you take a step towards a heart-racing adventure and master the wild rapids in no time!

If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the most popular U.S. rafting spots, we got you covered:

Rafting Spots

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1. Colorado River, Arizona

Colorado River, Arizona

Colorado River is the most famous stretch in the U.S. Floating on a raft through the gorgeous waters of the Colorado River will allow you to see the Grand Canyon from a brand new perspective.

This journey will allow you to face and overcome various rafting challenges while enjoying stunning views.

Various rafting companies operate on the Colorado River and offer a wide range of trip packages that start from few hours and extend up to two weeks or more!

On an average day, the rapids on the Colorado River are Class II and III. The whitewater rafting scale goes up to Class VI and hence, these rapids are considered to be quite moderate.

2. Tuolumne River, California

Tuolumne River, California

The Tuolumne River located in California flows from the breathtaking mountain setting of the Yosemite National Park.

The rafting adventure at the Tuolumne River is one of the most famous whitewater rafting trips in the U.S. and interested individuals can enjoy the action over one to three days.

The river is located in an extremely remote and rural area of the state; therefore there are very few towns near the rafting location.

Usually, Groveland and Sonora are used as bases by a lot of people that are looking to explore the spot.

The rapids on the Tuolumne River are Class IV and V and provide great thrills during the rafting journey!

3. Deschutes River, Oregon

 Deschutes River, Oregon

Flowing through one of the most magnificent desert canyons in Oregon, the Deschutes River is a great spot for whitewater rafting.

Most of the rafting activities take place on the upper area of the Lower Deschutes which is a 52-mile run.

It starts from Warm Springs and goes up to the Maupin. This river offers rapids between Green II and IV.

Along with offering some amazing rapids, the Deschutes River flows through a stunning deep gorge.

These gorge are almost untouched by any sort of human activity and animals such as ospreys, bighorn sheep and deer are commonly seen along the way.

4. Arkansas River, Colorado

Arkansas River, Colorado

The Arkansas River stretches east from Colorado to Arkansas. It also passes through Oklahoma and Kansas.

You can experience ample whitewater thrills at the Rocky Mountains of Colorado which is the source of the Rover.

As this River is located in one of the most extraordinary areas of the Rocky Mountains, it offers some wondrous surroundings.

Arkansas River offers rapids all the way up to Class V. The deep Royal Gorge along the way is an exquisite steep-sided gorge that is filled with whitewater.

You can start your adventure with an easy float down from Buena Vista and move your way up to Browns Canyon Section to enjoy a perfect thrill with Class II and III rapids along the beautiful mountain terrain.

5. Chattooga River, Georgia and South Carolina

Chattooga River, Georgia And South Carolina

Being the crown jewel of whitewater in southern areas, the Chattooga River is a location that is popular for its appearance in the film Deliverance.

Along the Section IV stretch of the Chattooga River, you will find tremendous Class V rapids.

Not only the rapids offer a challenging and exciting experience for professional rafters when the waters are high, but they also offer family-friendly rafting experiences in the summers when the level drops.

You can enjoy 26-miles of rafting adventure at this beautiful gorge.

The river passes some stunning valleys and flows through some gorgeous gorges, providing you with the one of the best destinations for whitewater rafting in the southeast.

6. Salmon River, Idaho

Salmon River, Idaho

The unbeatable nature views and exciting whitewater sequences make the Middle Fork of the Salmon River one of the most incredible spots in the U.S. for rafting.

The river includes 6 natural hot springs, pristine campsites and 300 ratable rapids.

It is situated in quite a remote area of the country and flows through breathtaking forests and beautiful deep valleys, offering a great variety of rafting experiences.

Enjoy a week of outdoor adventure in the towering granite canyons, grasslands and high country forests of Idaho’s terrain.

While you are at it, keep an eye out for mountain lions, bighorn sheep, black bears, moose, and more exotic wildlife.

7. Gauley River, West Virginia

Gauley River, West Virginia

The Gauley River is located in West Virginia and it provides a beautiful 35-mile stretch of Grade V (and up) challenges throughout valets and gorgers optimized particularly for exciting whitewater rafting adventures.

The river offers more than 100 rapids and qualifies for being one of the most remote scenic landscapes of the entire region.

While beginners are recommended to take a day’s trip on the Upper New River which offers a more family-friendly and laidback rafting experience, professionals can head to the Gauley River that offers technical and challenging rapids.

8. Rogue River, Oregon

Rogue River, Oregon

The Rogue River is one of America’s top kayaking and whitewater rafting destinations. This river in Southern Oregon flows from the Cascade Mountains into the Pacific Ocean.

The challenging rapids are lined by the green-forested canyons. The rapids mostly observed are Class III+ Upper and Lower Black Bar Falls, Class V Rainie Falls and Class IV-V Blossom Bar.

The Rogue River rafting trips can start from 4 hours and go up to 4 days. These multi-day trips offer overnight stays at cozy and beautiful riverside lodges.

While you are onboard, remember to focus at the treetops to spot ospreys, herons and eagles.

9. Nenana River, Alaska

Nenana River, Alaska

The Nenana River is the most popular glacial river in Alaska for whitewater rafting. The source of this river is Mt. McKinley.

It flows north from the Alaskan mainland all the way to Denali National Park. It offers ten miles of exciting and challenging Grade IV rapids that allow rafters to have the time of their lives!

The Nenana River is formed by the deep Alaska Range Mountains’ canyons. Wild sheep and golden eagle call the canyons their home.

Prepare your oars to navigate the Canyon Run of this river and enjoy a trip that offers various thrills along the way.

10. Kennebec River, Maine

Kennebec River, Maine

The Kennebec River launches from the wonderful Harris Station Dam and is certain to offer a lot of challenges and exciting adventures along the way.

Once you are floating down this river, you will be mesmerized by the Grade IV rapids and beautiful landscapes.

Kennebec is the ideal U.S. rafting spot for rafters looking for a whitewater thrill.

The river is home to several local companies that provide equipment, expert guides and rafts to people looking forward to a perfect excursion.

Moreover, the Class II and IV rapids including the Magic Falls and the Three Sisters complete the journey.

11. Youghiogheny River, Pennsylvania

Youghiogheny River, Pennsylvania

The Youghiogheny River is known for its high rank on the whitewater rapids and its reliable water flow. It runs along the East Coast and is just a 30-minute quick drive south of Pittsburgh.

Individuals also choose this river for its multiple classes of rapids for every rafter level.

If you are seeking a rafting adventure without challenges and risks, you can plan a summer excursion with your loved ones through the Lower Youghiogheny River.

This area of the river demands course of Grade III to IV rapids, and it tests your might.

Moreover, it rewards you with rapids such as the Railroad and Double Hydraulics, allowing you to have all the rafting fun possible!

Bottom Line

We hope that with all the aforementioned most popular U.S. rafting spots, you found something worth your while!

Whether you are an amateur rafter or a professional one, our list contains spots suitable for all rafter levels.

While you enjoy this recreational outdoor activity, don’t forget to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful scenic landscapes along the way!

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