With rising temperatures comes melting snowpack and for some, that means big water and rushing mountain streams. Check out these seven destinations for wild spring whitewater.
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho
The legendary Middle Fork of the Salmon River drops 3,000 feet over 105 miles through the wild River of No Return Wilderness. The free-flowing Middle Fork courses through spectacular scenery and rugged landscape free from roads or human construction. This river is protected as one of the first Wild and Scenic Rivers in the United States.
The Animas River, Colorado
The Animas River near Durango provides ample opportunities for families and experienced adventure seekers alike. The lower Animas River offers some modest springtime thrills as the melting snowpack fills the rapids with rushing water. Want to up the anti? Head with an outfitter to the Upper Animas, where serious class IV and V rapids test experienced thrill seekers to the limit. Check out the 28-mile Animas Gorge, which will get your pulse racing.
Gauley River, West Virginia
The section of whitewater below the Sommerville Dam swells in the spring and summer with regular discharges from the reservoir. Along this most famous Eastern set of rapids, the Gauley drops 668 feet over 27 miles creating more than 100 rapids, 53 of which are rated class III or above.
Rogue River, Oregon
The Rogue River is divided into two general areas, the 34-mile Wild and Scenic stretch from Grave Creek to Foster Bar. To protect this section of consistent class III rapids, a maximum of 120 users per day are allowed to run this section. A hiking trail along the river offers access to hidden swimming pools and side creeks among the lush Oregon forest.
Colorado River, Utah and Arizona
Quite possibly the crown jewel of North American whitewater rafting adventures, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a fixture on the bucket list of many adventurous souls.
There are a lot of options for a Grand Canyon raft trip and they all require permitting from the National Park Service. For a quick sightseeing tour, one-day commercial trips are available regularly on smooth water. Two to five day noncommercial (private) trips that launch from Diamond Creek are available on a first come first serve basis.
Longer trips from Lee’s Ferry to Diamond Creek are permitted for three to 18 days for commercially guided adventures. For private trips from 12 to 25 days, hopeful rafters must enter a lottery, which is weighted to give advantage to those who have waited years for this once-in-a-lifetime.
Snake River, Oregon
The Snake River winds through Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America at 7,993 feet. The river winds through a scenic, 10-mile wide canyon and trips are highlighted with visits to Native American petroglyphs and beautiful hikes through the wild landscape. Just three roads reach the river in Hells Canyon and none cross it. Enjoy the wilderness of the Seven Devils Mountain Range if you dare.
Green River, Utah
Want to check out a river and some amazing canyon lands such as Arches National Park in a single trip? Head to Utah and float the Green River, which runs from Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area to Dinosaur National Monument. From there it crosses the rugged southwest landscape before meeting up with the Colorado River at Canyonlands National Park. Many sections of the river of varying difficulty and length to provide a wide range of options for visitors looking for water-based adventure.