Want to embark on one of the most thrilling adventures of your lifetime? Then consider opting for a whitewater rafting trip down a raging river. Conquering ferocious whitewater rapids as you hurtle down a river at breakneck speeds, desperately holding on for life and trying to avoid rocks or anything else that might throw you overboard! The experience itself is far more thrilling and chilling than it sounds. So get set for a soaking, heart racing adventure as you prepare to conquer the wild rapids in these really challenging river rafting destinations in the U.S.
1. Colorado River, Arizona
We will start with the granddaddy of them all! The Colorado River forks through the Grand Canyon in Arizona and offers thrilling whitewater rafting experiences for all levels from novices to whitewater experts.
You can choose between half-day trips and two week trips that let you take in the splendor of the Grand Canyon from a completely different viewpoint.
While beginners can start off at the Hualapai Reservation route that will take them through the calmer portions of the Colorado River, experienced individuals can choose to tackle the Class II and III rapids further down the river.
2. Salmon River, Idaho
Get prepared to be floored by the beautiful views of nature that await you on the banks of the Salmon River in Idaho.
Filled with pristine campsites, natural hot springs and whitewater rapids galore (over 300 of them to be precise), Salmon River is renowned throughout the U.S. for its white water sequences.
The Middle Fork in particular, is a hit with rafters who rush to try their luck at the rapids as they float pass granite canyons, lush grasslands and plenty of wildlife in the form of black bears, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain lions, etc.
3. Chattooga River, North Carolina
If you love whitewater rafting, then a trip to North Carolina is a must in order to experience the rapids at the Chattooga River. It is here that the larger part of the river starts with the headwaters stretching till Lake Tulago in Georgia.
There are plenty of serene spots along the river for swimming as well if you decide to take a break in the midst of riding the wild rapids.
The part of the river after Green Creek is also famous for kayaking and tubing. Following this point, the heavy rapids start, ranging on a scale from Level III to Level IV. A minimum age requirement is needed for rafting in this area which also houses the famous Five Falls.
4. Arkansas River, Colorado & Arkansas
Starting at Colorado and winding its way past mountainous gorges and valleys until it ends in Arkansas, the Arkansas River is every white water rafter’s dream come true. While thrill seekers can hope to conquer the Level II and III rapids at places like the Big Drop and Zoom Flume (which come after the Browns Canyon section), beginners can opt for a more peaceful ride on calmer waters near Buena Vista.
5. Gauley River, West Virginia
This 35 mile stretch of river offers you the chance to experience Class V+ rapids that fork through treacherous gorges and valleys. The best whitewater rafting destination for the most adventurous of them all, Gauley River features rapids that are considered the most challenging in the whole country. If the Level V+ rapids sound a bit too dangerous for you, consider conquering calmer waters in the Upper New River which offers a more laidback whitewater rafting experience as you move through the wilderness in a more relaxing manner.
6. Rogue River, Oregon
Starting from the Cascade Mountains and ending in the Pacific Ocean, the Rogue River flows through green forested canyons filled with a wide variety of birds, including osprey, heron and eagles, etc. The river is also home to differing levels of rapids, allowing you to choose between the Level V Rainie Falls, the Level III Upper and Lower Black Bar Falls, and the Level IV-V Blossom Bars. The Argo Rapids is a popular spot between Grave Creek and Hog Creek, with whitewater rafters and features Level II rapids for beginners.
7. Nenana River, Alaska
Starting at Mt. McKinley, the glacial Nenana River in Alaska is very popular with whitewater rafters. Flowing all the way to the Denali National Park, the river offers more than 23 miles of exciting Level IV rapids that make you literally fly past the steep canyons of the surrounding mountain range. Added to this are the cold waters of the river that make navigating the wild rapids all the more treacherous.