Adventure holidays are, I suspect, not for the faint of heart. Paddling down a river of fast flowing water is not everyone’s idea of a holiday. However the more adventurous among us are giving this fast growing sport a go. So sit back and take a look at some of the places you can visit to try it out white water rafting, and what makes this type of holiday so appealing.
Kern River in California
Kern River in California has three rapid levels for your enjoyment. Class III rapids are considered intermediate level, meaning they are sturdy rapids that deliver excitement. Class IV rapids are rough rapids and Class V are even more challenging, and not suitable for beginners.
Grand Canyon Rafting – Arizona
The Grand Canyon is known for spectacular views. But one mile down into the gorge, the river has some cool rapids and great scenery.
Grand Canyon rafting trips are six and seven day trips in which you camp at night and enjoy the water during the day. The minimum age is 9, and the rapids are intermediate. Rafting season runs from April to September.
Salt – River Arizona
The Salt River is a long winding waterway in Arizona that’s frequented by many visitors. During the summer, the river is dotted with ‘tubers,’ who ride big round plastic rubber tubes down the river usually accompanied by coolers filled with alcoholic beverages.
But you can also enjoy rafting excursions on the Salt River, with day trips, three-day trips and five-day wilderness adventures on the Upper Salt River, which has more powerful Class IV rapids. Rafting season starts in March and ends in May.
Gauley River – West Virginia
This river is divided into the Upper Gauley River, which runs 10 miles and has a minimum rafting age of 15, and the Lower Gauley, which runs 17 miles and also has a minimum age of 15. The Upper Gauley is a far more intense experience, with waterfalls that feature a 300-foot drop.
If you’re in great shape and ready for a challenge, book the Upper Gauley trip. If not, stick with the Lower Gauley Rafting trip, which is more relaxed. Rafting trips on the Gauley are one-day excursions.
Penobscot River – Maine
You don’t often think of Maine as being a place to white water raft. Actually, unless you live there, you probably forget Maine is a state, but the Penobscot River offers several rafting trips that take into account experience levels from beginner to master.
The full river trip which is a day trip or overnight trip has two Class V rapids. The Penobscot Gorge trip is high-intensity with a minimum age of 15 and multiple Class V rapids and the Family Float Trip is designed to be relaxed and fun for the whole family. Rafting season runs from April to August.
Nantahala River – North Carolina
White water rafting on the Nantahala River is mostly a fun and relaxed occasion. The rapids are Class II and Class III, and are suitable for kids as young as 7 years of age. Most rafting trips include stops for lunch and relaxation.
You can also take advantage of a gorge canopy tour that lets you zip line across the trees, and a jeep tour of the gorge and other natural landscapes in the area.
Rio Upano – Ecuador
If you want a serious white water rafting vacation, then you may want to head overseas. Rio Upano in Ecuador includes Class II to Class IV rapids, so they’re intense, but not life-threatening.
And the natural beauty of the area only enhances your trip on the water. You may even run into some native Indian tribes that live on the river’s banks. Trips usually run eight days and December is the best time to go. You must be at least 15 to raft this river.
Futaleufu River – Chile
This is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world on which to go white water rafting. The water is aquamarine, and the rapids are either Class IV or Class V.
However, the Class IV rafting is safe enough for a six year-old, and the trip includes private camps, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, fishing and riding horses. It’s a complete outdoors experience you can’t find anywhere else, and for 10 days, you’re lost in paradise.
Colorado River – Utah
The world-famous Colorado River runs through several states, including Colorado, Arizona and Utah. The Utah side of things is where you want to head for great adventure. You have the choice of three, four and five-day trips that include kayaks as well as traditional rafts. You can explore Desolation Canyon or Cataract Canyon, with rapids that vary from intermediate to master level.
Rogue River – Oregon
The Rogue River has two, three and four-day rafting trips that are especially suitable for families. None of the rapids are more intense than a Class III, so children are welcome on any of the camp trips available.
You can choose a camp trip that allows you to set up camp at night, or a lodge trip in which you stay in a classic lodge during evening hours. May to October is prime rafting season on the Rogue River.