My Son's List of Top 5 National Parks for White Water Rafting

    My Son's List of Top 5 National Parks for White Water Rafting


    By Kimberly Dijkstra


    When a laid-back float down a tranquil river just won’t cut it, it’s time for a white water rafting adventure. Thrill seekers have been known to navigate turbulent waters on rafts dating back 200 years, with popularity of the extreme sport spiking in the 1970s. As a recreational activity, it is fun for the whole family, and can be an exhilarating addition to your next vacation to one of the US’s outstanding national parks.


    Here is My Sons List of top 5 national parks for white water rafting trips. Let’s paddle!



    New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

     The New River, which flows from North Carolina, through Virginia, into West Virginia is not new at all. Ironically, it is among the oldest rivers in the world. All 53 miles of free-flowing water within the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve have something to offer, while it is the Lower Gorge portion that white water rafters will be interested in. 


    With multiple access points, you can choose a trip that’s several hours long or several days. Choose your own adventure!


    Not ready to go it alone? Licensed outfitters offer guided trips at differing degrees of difficulty, providing equipment, instruction, transportation, and meals.



    Grand Canyon National Park


    Words can’t describe the Grand Canyon ー it’s something you need to experience for yourself. There’s no better way than to get down into it and ride the rapids of the Colorado River. 


    Half-day and full-day trips are available for those seeking excursions on smooth waters. Longer trips from Diamond Creek to Lake Mead last 2 to 5 days and because they are so popular, require permits to be booked a year in advance. Even longer trips from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek should be undertaken with professional guides, unless you’re experienced enough to tackle it alone. Self-guided raft trips require permits that are only available to the public through a weighted lottery.


    The powerful river and astounding scenery make rafting in the Grand Canyon a once-in-a-lifetime experience.



    Big Bend National Park


    A magical place in western Texas, Big Bend National Park provides vast opportunities for adventure. Half-day floats or multi-day excursions down the Rio Grande will take you through open landscapes, mountainous terrain and deep canyons.


    Santa Elena Canyon is strikingly beautiful and easily accessible to visitors, and popular for overnight trips. At 10-miles long, Mariscal Canyon offers varied scenery and towering limestone cliffs. Boquillas Canyon offers 33-miles of relaxation for less experienced rafters. If you can spare 5 to 10 days, choose the Lower Canyons for an unforgettable wilderness experience.



    North Cascades National Park


    Just three hours north of Seattle, Washington, North Cascades National Park has been described as one of the premier wilderness parks in the lower 48 states. The alpine landscape beckons hikers, backpackers and mountaineers, while the Skagit and Stehekin rivers attract white water enthusiasts.


    A number of local outfitters offer tours of the ambling emerald currents for paddlers of all ages and abilities. The Skagit River is notable for being the second longest river in the state and surrounded by remarkable scenery. The Upper Skagit is suitable for beginners and families with children. 


    The Stehekin River is incredibly remote ー accessible by ferry only. It is perfect for intermediate level rafters who aren’t afraid of some swift and technical maneuvers.


    Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve


    For a world-class rafting experience, head to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged wilderness, the park is best traversed over water.


    The Alsek River and Tatshenshini River are large volume, swift-moving rivers, fed by glacial melt. Experienced paddlers will love shooting through the frigid rapids between colossal icebergs.


    There may be a waiting list for private trip permits, but it is worth it for the opportunity to navigate the ‘Last Frontier’.


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