I have always loved the water but forgot how much until I was working on my Beach, Mountains, or Best of Both Worlds post. It made me stop, reflect, and acknowledge that it has been too long since I hit the beach or a stream. It also saddened me to realize that I have never been White Water Rafting. That is unless you count the Big Foot Rapids ride at Knott’s Berry Farm, which I don’t. lol It was fun and all, but I would love to experience the real thing one day. With that in mind, I did some research and found 6 rivers that I would love to explore via rafting. I am going to start with the Salmon River in Idaho.
Salmon River – Idaho
I had never been to Idaho until May of last year and I was thoroughly stunned by the beauty that is Idaho. I can’t believe I had never been there before and didn’t know that Idaho has more white water runs than any other state. The Salmon River rapids range from class III to IV and run through 85 miles of remote wilderness and pristine alpine forest. It is one of the largest rivers in the continental United States without a single dam on its mainstream. Its banks are beautified with expansive, white sandy beaches for incredible overnight camping experiences. Looking for a family adventure? Don’t worry, July and August water levels typically drop and conditions become perfect for younger families and multi-generational groups. I absolutely fell in love with Idaho and want to go back someday. This sounds like an incredible place to vacation year after year.
Chattooga River – North Carolina, South Carolina & Georgia
Those who have paddled the Chattooga River say there’s nothing like and it is the crown jewel of the southeast. It is a free-flowing river (no upstream dam to control the flow) that quickly responds to rainfall or drought conditions. The Chattooga begins in southern Jackson County, North Carolina, then flows southwestward between northwestern Oconee County, South Carolina, and eastern Rabun County, Georgia, and stretches 57 miles. They have several sections with all class levels I-V. Section I is level I and is ideal for swimming and tubing. Perfect for a family with smaller kids. The difficulty level goes up with each section. A note of interest, the river was used as a setting for the fictional Cahulawassee River in the book and film Deliverance.
Skykomish River – Washington
Do you seek the adrenaline rush of a fast-paced whitewater adventure? If so, the Skykomish, sometimes referred to by the nickname “Sky River” or “The Sky” should fit the bill. It is a Washington river that is only an hour East of Seattle. It is the home of the famous Boulder Drop rapid as well as plenty of other exciting Class III to Class IV type of rapids including “Bonsai,” “Aquagasm,” “Lunch Hole,” “Railroad,” ” and “Fisherman’s.” Its main stem is 29 miles long and classified as Class III-V / Intermediate-Advanced. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. Paddling this river will definitely be challenging but rewarding. The mountain views can’t be beaten. Their season is April – Early August.
Youghiogheny River (aka Yough) – West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania
Youghiogheny is an Algonquin word meaning “a stream flowing in a contrary direction”. It is commonly known as the Yough and is one of the most popular white water activities on the East Coast. It has all class levels and has something for everybody. There are three levers to the Yough, Upper, Middle, and Lower, with the middle level being ideal for quiet and relaxing float trips, or as a place to take young children. If you want a heart-dropping experience, take a trip to the Upper Yough. Be sure to check out the schedule below, as the Upper Yough is not always running. Trips are available on the Middle and Lower Youghiogheny daily during the spring and summer. The Upper Youghiogheny has releases on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays from mid-April through mid-September. Sounds like a great place for a fast-paced adventure. I will leave it for the adrenaline junkies, lol
Tuolumne River – California
Flowing from the central Sierra Nevada to the San Joaquin River in Central Valley California is the Tuolumne River. It is 149 miles long and is formed by the confluence of the Lyell and Dana Forks in Yosemite National Park. California whitewater enthusiasts have been rafting on the Tuolumne since the ’60s. Today it is a popular hiking and backpacking destination as well. The unique granitic features of the Tuolumne River’s upper watershed were shaped by glaciation in the previous Ice Age, which produced such formations as Hetch Hetchy Valley and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. It is a Class IV+; V (experts only) location, and their season is from March-October.
Gauley River, West Virginia
The Gauley River in West Virginia is not quite as long as the Tuolumne River, only 105 miles, but is stated as one of the most popular advanced white water runs in the Eastern United States and is the chief feature of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. Once considered some of the toughest runnable whitewater on the planet, paddlers come from everywhere to experience the “Wild and Wonderful” that is the Gauley River. It is also a Class V destination and is recommended for those experienced and enthusiastic paddlers.
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Hope you can get out and hit some white water this summer and have a great time at one of these rivers. If you do, protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Read my blog post on Sun Safety Tips. Enjoy the summer.
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