A whitewater river rafting trip is an unforgettable experience. There are astounding views, soul-stirring towering canyons, majestic waterfalls, magnificent overlooks, and marvelous slot canyons—all only accessible by river. Away from distractions, it is a time of absolute relaxation in the wilderness. Here are the top suggestions from my personal whitewater rafting adventures.
A half-day float on the Snake River includes rapids named Lunch Counter and The Big Kahuna. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, elk, and deer. Cliff-jumping is a must, but the thirty-foot drop is not for the faint of heart.
Moab Daily Section, Utah
This trip is a popular half-day float. You can cool off with great rapids like Onion Creek, Cloudburst, Ida Gulch, and Whites Ranch.
Cataract Canyon, Utah
The whitewater here delivers the largest runnable rapids in North America with waves towering over forty feet. Some of the best-known rapids are Mile Long, Ben Hurt, and The Big Drops. Terrifying holes named Little Niagara, Satan’s Gut, Hell to Pay, and The Claw can flip the raft. Ancient Anasazi Indian ruins and petroglyphs are hidden in the cliffs along the river, many accessible by hiking.
Large rapids, gorgeous sandstone canyon walls, bald eagle and peregrine falcon sightings, and shiny jet-black Precambrian formations nearly two billion years old, make for spectacular scenery. Some of the thrilling rapids include Funnel Falls, Skull Rapid, Room of Doom, Rock of Shock, Magnetic Wall, and Sock It to Me.
Main Salmon, Idaho
The pine tree lined banks frame rapids called Gun Barrel, Devil’s Teeth, Big Mallard, Elk Horn, and Chittam. There are historical sites, natural hot springs, and old cabins along the way, providing family-friendly entertainment.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
The rollercoaster rapids of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon are exhilarating, refreshing, and a huge adrenaline rush with rapids named the Roaring 20s, Granite, Hermit, Horn Creek, Lava Falls, and Helicopter Eddy. There is nothing like the feeling of flying down the rapids, falling into the trough of a big haystack wave, and then shooting back up to the top. The incomparable scenery showcases incredible soaring red cliffs and stunning geologic formations. Along the way is a stop to see the turquoise blue waterfalls and pools of the Little Colorado. I have loved all the rivers I’ve been on, but whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon was my favorite by far.
Nothing compares to the elation of rafting through rapids. With endless scenic wonders and exhilarating thrills, a whitewater rafting trip is the adventure of a lifetime.