The Best Places In America To Go Whitewater Rafting

The first attempt at whitewater rafting happened in 1811 at the Snake River in Wyoming. Present-day whitewater rafting can be traced back to 1842. Horace Day and John Freemont created the first rubber raft and traversed the Platte River in Colorado.

Over the years, whitewater rafting has become a significant pass-time activity for many people. Additionally, the masses have taken up white water rafting as a popular sport. Whitewater rafting became an Olympic sport in the 1972 Munich Olympics. This write-up will look at the best places in America to go whitewater rafting.

The Arkansas River

The Arkansas River is the most famous whitewater rafting destination in Colorado. It gives rafting enthusiasts over 100 miles of whitewater starting from the Colorado Rockies. This is the West’s most sought-after whitewater rafting destinations.

The river comes with a scenic view of the mountainous Colorado terrain, creeks, rapids, and rock walls to give the best experience to people rafting. Moreover, rafting in the Arkansas River comes in all classes. Let’s look at some of the top-ranking whitewater rafting sections on the river.

  1. The Numbers: it is near Buena Vista and offers users action-packed whitewater rafting. It has a high alpine setting to bring out that desired strenuous paddling in commercial rafting. Being a difficult section, the Numbers has class IV to V rapids, meaning beginners should steer clear.
  2. Browns Canyon: Browns Canyon sits between Salida and Buena Vista. It comes with class III to IV rapids, evenly spread out for maximum enjoyment of the scenery. It is recommendable for beginners who can get up to six hours of a family-friendly whitewater rafting experience.
  3. Bighorn Sheep Canyon: It cuts across San Isabel National Forest and is most popular among wildlife lovers. Since it has rapids of class III to IV, first-timers can enjoy this section for a trip of three to six hours.
  4. Royal Gorge: It ranks among the top rafting destinations in the US, primarily due to the enormous granite walls it runs through, and since it is 1,100 feet below the towering Royal Gorge Bridge, which is the highest suspension bridge in the US. Rapids in this sector range from class IV to V, making them ideal for pros.
  5. Pine Creek: Water rafting experts consider Pine Creek the steepest of all the rafting sections of the Arkansas River. It comes with daunting rapids of class V that give the best thrilling rafting experience.

The Colorado River

Generally referred to as the beating heart of Southwestern America, the Colorado River is the sixth-longest in the nation spanning an extensive 1,450 miles that end in Mexico. It originates from the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountain National Park located in Colorado.

With such a length and a discharge of 640 cubic meters per second, the Colorado River is bound to have some challenging rapids and stretches of whitewater ideal for rafting. Whitewater rafting in the river is usually done at the start of the spring season when all snow is melted and added into the river volume. Here are the stretches offering world-class whitewater rafting trips on the Colorado River.

  1. Moab Daily: Ever dreamt of being off the grid, far away from the vagaries of modern technology and busy city life. Whitewater rafting on this stretch should be on top of your bucket list. The space begins near Fish Towers in Moab town.

Its rapids such as Cloudburst and Rocky are of classes I and II. It is suitable for novices and families with young children.

  1. Westwater Canyon: time and again, the Westwater is always compared to the Grand Canyon, meaning its majestic and rafting enthusiasts should consider trying it out. The 17-mile stretch comes with eleven wild rapids like Last Chance and Funnel Falls That range from class III to IV. In addition to rafting, one can enjoy bird watching or the occasional rest by exploring the outlaw caves along the stretch.
  2. Cataract Canyon: It lists among the most desired rafting trip in the Colorado river and begins at the confluence south of Moab, where the Green River meets the Colorado River. Cataract Canyon is a 14-mile stretch of white water that comes with challenging rapids of classes III and IV.

The Snake River – Wyoming

The snake river has a rich rafting history, as it was the first place where the practice began. It attracts over 300,000 visitors annually, earning the moniker Jackson Hole’s liquid gold. All these people come to sample the river’s numerous activities, including whitewater rafting.

In Wyoming, the Snake River whitewater rafting trip stretches for 8 miles, and it takes approximately four hours to and from Jackson. The best time for rafting in the Snake River is between May and September. The stretch comes with class III rapids. The next time you visit Wyoming, enjoy the celebrated Ropes and Big Kahuna rapids.

The Gauley River – West Virginia

Originating from the Gauley Mountain, this river is 105 miles long. The river is a must-go destination for the best water-related activities. Experienced world-class rafting gurus have ranked the river among the top globally due to its scenic views and inaccessibility, and unforgiving rapids.

The river drops more than 650 feet in 25 miles and comes with more than 100 rapids. These are class V rapids, making the river’s whitewater rafting endeavors exclusively for professionals. Most importantly, the river comes with two unique 12-mile stretches of white water that many people frequent—the Upper and Lower Gauley offer exceptional rafting experiences. Newbies looking for the thrill in rafting should avoid the Gauley River, as it is arduous.

Final Verdict

America is a leading tourist attraction globally, especially for lovers of water-related activities. White water rafting enthusiasts should visit and explore what the US offers, especially in the Arkansas and Colorado Rivers. Of course, there are other places you can have a white water rafting experience, but the ones above will give you quite an experience.