Most Popular Whitewater Rafting Rivers in the US

Dowd Chute Whitewater Rafting

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The snowpack continues to recede with the summer melt. It’s okay though… it will be back next year and there is a positive. In this case, it means the rivers start to rise and whitewater rafting season begins!

But first, a quick history lesson. This outdoor activity started as a way to explore unknown rivers and the areas that surround them. The first rafting trip happened in 1811 on the Snake River through Wyoming and Idaho. The equipment at the time made it too difficult to navigate the entire river. In 1840, the Rubber Raft was invented by Lt. John Fremont and Horace H. Day. With their new invention, on June 9th, 1840, a successful scientific exploration of the Snake River was led by Clyde Smith.

Nowadays, it’s not about exploration. It’s all about fun! Rafting has become another fun way to experience the mountains. All adventure seekers must give this a try! Here are some popular whitewater rafting rivers in the US.

Snake River – Idaho

Class III & Class IV

Image Taken by Hans Dieter Vesely
Image Taken by Hans Dieter Vesely

Nothing compares to rafting Hells Canyon in Idaho. This is the home of the mighty Snake River and the deepest gorge in North America. The river marks the border between Idaho and Oregon. The canyon plunges to depths of nearly 8,000 feet between the Seven Devils range to the east and Oregon’s rim country to the west.

Through this tremendous gorge, the Snake River’s warm, clear waters yield some of the best big waves and whitewater rapids in the Northwest. There are also great fishing opportunities in calmer sections. The Snake River serves up one of the best river experiences in the country!

Weber River – Utah

Class I & Class II Rapids

Devil's Slide - Photo Taken by Photographer Karen J. Rasmussen, North Ogden, Utah
Devil’s Slide – Photo Taken by Photographer Karen J. Rasmussen, North Ogden, Utah

The Weber River, located in the same mountain range as Sundance Ski Resort, is full of historical structures showing off locomotive history. In addition, you’ll see several famous canyons in Northern Utah, some of which have ended up on postcards.

Highlights of this river includes a snug pass beneath the Croydon Bridge, Devil’s Slide, an unusual geologic rock formation consisting of two parallel bands of limestone running down a steep mountainside and Slalom Rapid, which passes a series of concrete pillars supporting the freeway above.

Deschutes River – Oregon

Class III Rapids

One of the most popular river rafting journeys in North America is the Deschutes River. Named by French fur traders for their rapids, these are a sure bet to be a blast! Known for its consistent water flows, sunshine and amazing scenery, it’s perfect for anyone looking for some adventure.

Dowd Chute – Colorado

Class IV Rapids

Dowd Chute Colorado Whitewater Rafting Best Whitewater Rafting Rivers in US
Photo Credit as Christian Kallen/

Besides having amazing dry snow, Colorado is also home to great whitewater rafting. The Dowd Chute, located on the Eagle River, is a perfect option that doesn’t require a full day but offers some intense action. The water levels are not dam controlled and fluctuate according to weather conditions and spring runoff levels. For this reason, it is critical to go with a guide. The best part though… it’s only minutes from Vail meaning you get to sample a little bit of the town as well.

American River – California

Class III & Class IV Rapids

American River Middle Fork River Best Whitewater Rafting Rivers in US
Tunnel Shoot 2 – American River – Image taken by: Rachel Lea Fox – For Full story go here.

The American River isn’t just one ribbon of watery fun but rather three. It consists of The North, Middle & South Forks. The South Fork’s action-packed Class III rapids are rollicking good fun for the entire family. The Middle Fork of the American combines challenging Class IV rapids with miles of beautiful wilderness scenery. It’s also home to the “Tunnel Chute”. The exciting rapid drops through a steep chute into frothy, churning water, after which it passes through a 90-ft long tunnel. Last but not least, the North Fork sparkles with Class IV spring run-off thrills and pristine beauty. So, pick the river depending on the level of fun you want.

This is just a taste into the sport of white water rafting and one more way to enjoy the mountains. If you are looking for a new activity with an adrenaline fix, give this a go!

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