What Makes White Water Rafting Special?
White water rafting is the sport in which an inflatable raft is used to navigate a body of rushing whitewater or rough water. It’s a wonderful activity that combines the physical challenge of navigating the waves with the camaraderie of working as a team and the thrill of rushing through white, frothy rapids through the American wilderness.
People have been doing it en-masse since the mid-70s, and the U.S. has many beautiful rivers that are perfectly suited for either recreational or competitive rafting.
The boat used is called a raft but it looks more like an inflatable dingy. And although the craft is full of air it is durable to ride the rough waters without puncturing.
As with any adventure activity, white water rafting is risky and could result in fatal injuries. To avoid drowning and some injuries participants wear a combination of helmet and life jacket but too much more protection could inhibit movement and make swimming difficult if the boat capsizes.
Depending on who you ask, the very best white water rafting destinations in the US will vary. Some prefer the peace of some Class I rapids while others need the physical challenge of a Class V or Class VI to feel satisfied. To peak your interest, we’ve chosen our favorite white water rafting destinations in the United States based on the variety of runs available for rafting and the pure beauty of the surroundings.
5. Tuolumne River, California
The Tuolumne River flows for 149 miles through Central California, from the upper Sierra Nevada to the lower Central Valley. The area is primarily forested with some alpine, meadow and grassland zones.
The Tuolumne is considered a classic California whitewater run, and has been in use since the 60s. The typical run starts at Meral’s Pool (about 2 miles below Cherry Creek) for a moderately challenging 18-mile run to Lake Don Pedro.
The main Tuolumne is an advanced Class IV+ river with the most difficult single rapids is Clavey Falls, the longest being the mile-long Grey’s Grindstone. In the summer, it’s common to see camps set up at the swimming holes between those two rapids.
Considered one of the most difficult whitewater rivers in the U.S., Cherry Creek comes complete with fifteen Class V rapids. Book with a responsible commercial tour company and they will see to it that your Cherry Creek experience is nothing but safe and enjoyable.
4. Snake River, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The Snake River is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest in the United States. At 1,078 miles long, it is the largest North American river that discharges into the Pacific Ocean.
The Snake River basin is mostly wide open space with some rolling hills, bordered by high mountains—Teton, Bitterroot, Clearwater, Seven Devils, and part of the Wind River Range—the highest point of the watershed being Grand Teton. It is here that white water rafters will discover a distinctly alpine climate.