North America is where it all began. It can be pricey at times, but the equipment is always top notch, the guides are well trained, and the diversity of the runs are incomparable. Desert canyons in the western United States have long been sought after destinations for whitewater kayakers and rafters, but don’t rule out the Appalachians or Canada. There is plenty to be found.
- Colorado River, Arizona
The Colorado, which snakes its way through the legendary Grand Canyon, is whitewater haven. On the 5-20 day trips on this wild Class IV run you’ll get a glimpse of the entire western US from Indian ruins, wildlife, unusual rock formations, and of course cowboys.
- Salmon River, Idaho
Idaho has more whitewater runs than any other state and the Salmon River’s Middle Fork is perhaps the premier stretch in the United States. Raging rapids ranging from Class III-IV run through pristine alpine forests. Permits are required, so going with an outfitter is your best chance at rafting here.
- Rogue River, Oregon
The Rogue is one of America’s preeminent whitewater rivers. The Class II-IV rapids begin in Crater Lake National Park and wind their way to the Gold Coast. The upper stretch is by far the most difficult. Only for the experienced.
- New River River, West Virginia
Before it meets the Gauley, the New River is divided into three parts where the rapids range from Class II-V. The most pulsating stretch is in Little River Gorge which maintains a steady Class IV-V.
- Kazan, Nunavat
Canada’s 540-mile Kazan, running through the Nunavat’s Arctic tundra, has endless raging rapids and some of the best fishing in Alaska.
- Arkansas River, Colorado
The 100 miles of Class II-IV rapids pass through the heart of the Colorado Rockies. The proximity to Denver means that hundreds of thousands raft this river every year, but if you can ignore the crowds you’ll find some great whitewater for everyone from the beginner to advanced paddler.
- Green River, Utah
The Green, a classic trip, runs through Lodore Canyon and the lonely pine forests fill the high desert plateau. You’ll come across big horn sheep and an array of wildlife while battling the Class II-III rapids.
- Klamath, California
There are more than one thousand Class IV-V rapids spread out along the 187 miles of this Northern California river near the Oregon border.
- Alsek and Tatchenshini rivers, Alaska
These two branches of the same river run through the edge of Glacier Bay National Park. The two give you the chance to see heart-stopping scenery such as glaciers, moose, and grizzlies while you attempt to clear equally exciting Class III-IV rapids. Trips on this river average about 10 days.
- Chattooga, Georgia and South Carolina
If the movie Deliverance scared you, read no further, because this is the same river. The Class I-V rapids, varying with the loads of rainfall here, can be run in part or as a whole.