10 Best Places in the World for Whitewater Rafting

Adrenaline junkies and nature lovers are strapping on life vests and helmets in order to paddle and bounce their way over turbulent rapids. Whitewater rafting is dramatically increasing in popularity. More and more people are looking for the best places to try it for the first time or challenge themselves with more difficult runs. To find the best place launch your raft, check out these top destinations.

1. Colorado River, Grand Canyon

The Colorado River, which winds for 226 miles through Colorado, Utah and Arizona, is the quintessential rafting destination. When you aren’t battling the powerful rapids, the calm stretches provide a unique view of the canyon. The journey also offers plenty of adventure on dry land with ancient Indian ruins, miles of hiking trails and campsites located on beautiful beaches.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon

2. Zambezi River, Zimbabwe

The Zambezi River at Victoria Falls provides an adrenaline-soaked adventure for experienced rafters. Nearly half of the rapids along the river are graded as Class IV. Aside from the dramatic drops and massive swells, the river offers rafters a chance to see crocodiles and hippopotamuses up close.

Zambezi River, Zimbabwe

3. Ottawa River, Canada

The Ottawa River, which divides Quebec and Ontario, is regarded as a top destination for rafters of all skill levels. The lukewarm water and calm stretches are perfect for budding adventurers while faster sections will give even the most advanced rapid rider a thrill.

Ottawa River, Canada

4. Pacuare River, Costa Rica

The Pacuare River of Costa Rica is enveloped in a lush tropical rainforest. Winding 67 miles through three sections, the river has rapids classed from III to IV. Along the journey to the Caribbean, rafters will have the opportunity to view the area’s resident jaguars, ocelots, monkeys and exotic birds.

Pacuare River, Costa Rica

5. Futaleufu River, Chile

The Futaleufu River cascades from glacier-fed lakes high in the Andes Mountains. The aqua water is calm enough in many areas for novice rafters. However, experienced rafters will feel at home in the long stretches of rough rapids and Class IV drops. The area also features permanent river camps with hot tubs, beds and warm showers. If you are looking for adventure out of the water, try the rock climbing or horseback riding that is available near the river.

Futaleufu River, Chili

6. Salmon River’s Middle Fork, Idaho

The Middle Fork tributary of the Idaho’s Salmon River is one of North America’s iconic whitewater rafting experiences. Over the course of its 105-mile journey, the river offers up 100 rapids and drops 3000 feet in elevation. As they paddle their way through the spruce forest and rugged landscape, rafters are likely to see moose and bears along the shore.

Salmon River Idaho

7. North Johnstone River, Australia

The North Johnstone River in Queensland, Australia serves up Class IV and V rapids which get their force from the area’s heavy rainfalls. The river, which winds through volcanic gorges and untouched rainforests, is only accessible by helicopter.

North Johnstone River, Australia

8. Magpie River, Canada

Rafting on the Magpie River in Canada steadily increases in difficulty throughout the journey. The first rapids, near Magpie Lake, are gentle enough for novice rafters. The Class V rapids at Magpie Falls will challenge those with more experience. At night, camping along the river provides a spectacular view of the Northern Lights.

Magpie River, Canada

9. White Nile, Uganda

The White Nile River, which is a tributary of the Nile River, weaves its way through Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The best spot for whitewater rafting is at Jinja, Uganda where the river exits Lake Victoria. Once the river spills out of the placid lake, it explodes into Class II – V rapids.

White Nile, Uganda

10. Ganges River, India

The sacred Ganges River originates high in the Western Himalayas and is home to the best whitewater rafting in Asia. The Class IV to V rapids are best experienced between October and June after the monsoon season. During the stretches of calm water, rafters can swim in the holy river and see the Hindu temples that grace the shore.

No matter if you are new to rafting or an experienced pro, there is a whitewater destination that is perfectly suited for you. Pick up your paddle and head out on your next adventure.

Ganges River India