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8 Exciting Rafting Adventure Destinations for Families

8 Exciting Rafting Adventure Destinations for Families


America boasts a variety of natural, breathtaking scenery, including majestic mountains, gushing rivers, and crystal clear glacier lakes, making it an ideal location for whitewater rafting in several of its states. This summer, you can enjoy a wide selection of whitewater rafting experiences, from tame, family-friendly float trips to adrenaline-pumping rapids in a spectacular mountain setting. Whether you’re an adult or a teenager, all tastes are catered to!

# 1 Arkansas River along the Royal Gorge, Colorado

The Royal Gorge features steep canyon walls, as well as big, powerful, and technical rapids, making it one of the most spectacular stretches of the Arkansas River. In the narrow canyon, the river surges with a rush of whitewater. It is a perfect place for rafting trips for family and friends, whether they enjoy peaceful floats or adrenaline-pumping rapids. Adrenaline junkies have several options, including Boateater and Sledgehammer rapids in the 1,000-foot-deep Royal Gorge. If you have children as young as four years on the trip, go for the Gentle Family Float Rafting or take a raft ride through Big Horn Sheep Canyon for a mellower family adventure. 

#2 Pigeon River in the Smokey Mountains, Tennessee

From beginners to adventure seekers – the Pigeon River, Nolichucky River, and Ocoee River are three excellent rivers that offer white water rafting Tennessee adventures. If you’re planning a rafting adventure here, The Smokey Mountains are the most enchanting part of the State, giving rafters the opportunity to choose between the Lower Pigeon and Upper Pigeon rivers. For an unforgettable experience and rapids for every skill set, join your hands with a rafting company, Smoky Mountain Outdoors, as they have been setting the bar high for whitewater rafting service, safety, and fun since 1993. You can expect to romp through some of the world’s most exciting rapids, class III and IV. They issue each guest a type 5, Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. This lifejacket is designed to give you all of the flotation needed on the river. In addition, you will find a multitude of attractions and lodging options nearby after your whitewater excursion.

#3 Rogue River, Oregon

Known for its steelhead and salmon fishing, the legendary Rogue River has a long history. It is now a favorite destination for outdoor recreation enthusiasts who love to go hiking, fishing, rafting, and explore the Rogue River. In 1968, Congress protected Oregon’s Rogue River as an original Wild and Scenic River. It originates in the nearby Cascade Mountains and flows through the Klamath Mountains. 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean, you can begin your rafting and camping trip on the Rogue. It contains mostly Class II and III rapids with one Class IV rapid – where you also get to walk around. During the trip, you can typically see the wildlife, including bears, bald eagles, ospreys, river otters, and great blue herons. If you hire a rafting company, you will get several services, such as gourmet river meals and hikes to scenic overlooks and historic sites led by experienced guides. In addition, you can borrow camping equipment for free if you need it.

#4 Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho

Among the best white water stretches in the United States can be found on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Located in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the largest forest wilderness in the lower 48 states, the Middle Fork is a tributary of the Salmon River with no dams to control flow. Among the more than 300 rapids, there is one Class V (Dagger Falls), ranging in difficulty from Class III to IV+. Multiday trips range from 60 to 100 miles offered by several rafting companies. After August, the river mellows a bit, but adventurous families will still find plenty of thrills. 

#5 Gauley River, West Virginia

The Gauley River is renowned for its beauty and white water. It flows 104 miles before joining with the New River to join the Ohio River in West Virginia. The first day of the Gauley Season officially begins when Summerville Dam releases water for winter. Rafting enthusiasts from across the country thrill to the Gauley’s spring runoff conditions. 

#6 Terminator of Futaleufú River, Chile

Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular activities on the Futaleufu River in Chile. It is a class V rapid with a lot of water. One of the most extreme rapids experiences in the world is located on this river called the Terminator rapids. Rafting here is exciting because your boat almost touches the sky. Adventure seekers who have visited and attempted rafting here have described it as the most challenging, thrilling, and terrifying they have ever encountered. According to the guides at the Terminator, rafting at the Terminator can almost give you a heart attack due to its extreme rapids. But, this is what the essence of an adventure is. On your white-water rafting journey, you may experience stunning cliffs, thrilling thunder, and big waves. So, if you feel the pangs already, you should definitely take on this whitewater rafting adventure.

#7 Bidwell, Chilko River, British Columbia

Located in British Columbia in North America, this rapid is class IV in nature. The Bidwell in the Chilko River has huge waves and deep holes that are quite dangerous, but they are also exciting and thrilling. With a length of 14 miles, this is one of the longest rafting stretches currently available. If your beginning is incorrect, then Bidwell can be a horrible experience, but if your starting is correct, then it can be the most wonderful experience of your life, and you don’t even have to do any swimming.

#8 Green River, Utah

Take a run down Utah’s Green River and discover Dinosaur National Monument, ancient petroglyphs, and stunning landscapes. Utah’s Colorado Plateau is home to the Green River, which flows into the Colorado River south of Moab near Flaming Gorge Reservoir. There are several outfitters that offer hiking and camping trips ranging from a few hours to a week or more. You can enjoy the 9 miles of serene waters in the Split Mountain Gorge inside Dinosaur National Monument or take on Class III and IV rapids.


Rafting with family is not only exciting and fun, but it allows you to spend as much time together as possible. Your child will learn, grow, become more confident, and recognize that challenging things are possible. With these river trips, beginners and experts alike can explore white water or take in scenic calm across the U.S. As a family, you will navigate your way down the river and through the rapids with the assistance of highly trained and experienced guides. You will be able to remind your kids of this memory in the years to come and help them overcome adversity in the future.

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Her travels allow her the opportunity to pursue her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

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