Pick up the paddle and prepare for fast and furious whitewater rapids.
Fed by the this year’s unusually heavy spring thaw, several North American rivers are enjoying larger-than-average volume. For whitewater rafters and kayakers, the robust currents mean faster water and more fun amid swirling eddies, big swells and foaming waves. Hit the water while peak thrills still last: we’ve picked 9 thrilling river destinations with nearby Good Sam Parks.
Consult WetPlanetWhitewater.com’s guide for whitewater classifications before setting out.
Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Colorado River generates formidable rapids as it flows along the floor of the Grand Canyon. The Lower Canyon in the western end of the park boasts a 192-mile stretch of river with a high concentration of Class IV whitewater. Feel your pulse race on the notorious Lava Falls, with daunting obstacles like Saddle Rock, Ledge Hole and Hump Wave. While floating on the more sedate stretches of the river, rafters can gaze up at the scenic Granite Gorges and Grand Wash Walls. Several outfitters offer rafting trips.
Located in Williams, the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park situates visitors near a historic train line that whisks passengers to the national park.
Merced River, California
Just outside of Yosemite National Park, the Merced River churns with 18 miles of continuous Class IV rapids. Visitors can sign up for rafting trips with Oars, an outfitter that specializes in eclectic rafting adventures. Take a 1-day trip filled with hair-raising thrills or opt for a 3-day jaunt that includes camping and hiking. This rafting adventure will fit perfectly into a vacation to Yosemite, San Francisco, the Napa Valley and the California coast.
At Yosemite Lakes RV Resort, guests can go swimming, fishing and panning for gold in the Tuolumne River that runs through the campground.
Colorado River, Colorado
The Glenwood Whitewater Park & Activity Area in Glenwood Springs dishes out whitewater thrills for the whole family. Once the site for the U.S. Freestyle Kayaking Team Trials, the park has the distinction of being the first whitewater feature built on any stretch of the Colorado River. The park offers kayakers, rafters and even standup paddleboarders a place to hone their skills and agility. The park’s signature feature is the standing wave, also known as the G-wave. Just two miles upstream, Glenwood Canyon thrills rafters and kayakers with Class IV and V rapids.
Glenwood Canyon Resort places guests close to Rocky Mountain adventure, including the world-famous Hot Springs Pool.
Chattahoochee River, Georgia
Urban whitewater rafting doesn’t get much better than the frothy segment of river that runs through the heart of Columbus. Boasting Class II to V rapids, the Chattahoochee Whitewater Park was named one of the Top 12 Man-Made Adventures in the World by USA Today. Don’t take their word for it: sign up with a kayaking or rafting outfitter and feel the turbulent H20 zip you downstream. Not ready for the big stuff? You can also take sedate floats in other parts of the river. After a day on the current, wet your whistle with some suds of a different sort at one of town’s microbreweries.
Minutes from whitewater rafting, Lake Pines RV Park & Campground surrounds guests in comfort with several amenities after a rugged day on the river.
Penobscot River, Maine
In the heart of the Pine Tree State, the Penobscot River roars with 13 miles of Class V rapids, including challenges with names like “Exterminator” and “Cribworks.” Feel your pulse race as you plummet down Nesowadnehunk Falls, a gnarly drop that’s as scary as it is pretty. This stretch of river isn’t for the squeamish. If you sign up with Three Rivers Whitewater, you must be at least 14 years old and 110 pounds. It’s a wicked ride!
At Katahdin Shadows Campground and Cabins, guests have access to nearby wilderness adventures.
Madison River, Montana
About 80 miles north of West Yellowstone, the Madison River surges through the ruggedly beautiful terrain of the Bear Trap Canyon Wilderness. Visitors to this Bureau of Land Management area can take a 9-mile float trip under 2,000-foot cliffs and the famous Class V “Kitchen Sink” rapids at the end. This is recommended only for those who possess serious whitewater skills. If you prefer hiking, hit the trail that runs the length of the river and watch the daredevils sweat it in the current.
Guests at Ennis RV Village can float or fly fish in the nearby Madison River. Bozeman is just one hour to the east.
Truckee River, Nevada
Reno’s Truckee River Whitewater Park encompasses a 2,600-foot stretch of river with 11 drop pools for kayaking recreation. The riverbanks of the Class II to Class III park are lined with 7,000 tons of smooth, flat-top rocks and boulders for easy public access and enhancement of kayaking maneuvers. This is the place for kayakers to refine their side surfing, cartwheeling, front flips and more. If you prefer to stay dry, you can take a seat in the spectator area and watch the action in the water below.
Just two miles south of the Whitewater Park, the Silver Sage RV Park sits minutes from casinos, restaurants and more.
Rogue River, Oregon
Winding through southern Oregon, the Rogue River foams with world-class rafting with wild rapids pulsing amid rugged, forested terrain. Morrison’s Rogue Wilderness Adventures takes guests through multi-day float trips through 40 miles of the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River with more than over 20 Class II-to-IV rapids. Guests can float on a raft or single-person kayak with stops for riverside lunches and visits to historic sites and side-creek swim holes.
Situated in the heart of vibrant Grants Pass, Jack’s Landing RV Resort features all the amenities you’ll need for a restful stay between adventures on the river.
Whitewater Rapids on New River, West Virginia
The New River winds through a deep gorge known as the Grand Canyon of the East. Long stretches of the scenic waterway thunder with rapids and several outfitters can give you a thrill on fast-moving water. Expect water tumbling over huge boulders as the gorge narrows, along with roller coaster waves and giant holes in Class III environments. Enjoy expeditions to places like Jump Rock, Swimmer’s Rapids and areas where you actually can go surfing on giant swells.
Choose from several RV parks and campgrounds in West Virginia.