5 Cities Rafters Should Consider for Rapid Relocation

by Jonathan DeesingSeptember 14, 2017

Everyone remembers their first time floating down whitewater rapids – the force of the river, the sound of rushing water, the way the raft bounces in between holes. For as long as rivers have raged, thrill seekers have sought to float down them in flimsy watercraft.

But what do you do when guided rafting tours just aren’t cutting it anymore? If you find yourself bit by the rafting bug, you’re in luck! The U.S. is covered in raging rivers from the wilds of Alaska, down to the swamps of Florida which means there’s a cornucopia of places where rafters can get their fill. Check out these five cities where the whitewater obsessed can catch some big water.
White water rafting on a river .

Portland, Oregon

With hundreds of rainy days each year, Portlanders definitely don’t mind getting wet. So when it comes to river rafting, Portland’s outdoorsy population takes advantage of the abundant whitewater surrounding the city. As the biggest nearby metro area in Oregon, Portland is considered the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge and its multiple tributaries.

Portland’s varying rainfall throughout the year makes for constantly changing rapids that always deliver a surprise. Nearby White Salmon River and the Clackamas River offer great whitewater, while Deschutes River has a little something for everyone. And if you’re into a more relaxing ride, The Big Float down the Willamette River is probably right up your alley.
 Save Download Preview Portland Oregon Panorama. Sunset scene with dramatic sky and light reflections on the Willamette River.

Boise, Idaho

Few towns in America not only allow, but encourage people to float down a river through the middle of town, but Boise is one that does. Starting in Boise’s Barber Park, locals can rent a raft (or a kayak, or a tube,) and float right through town – hopping out at designated points for a break or a snack. You can even hitch a ride back to the top on an hourly shuttle.

Outside of town, Boise residents enjoy access to Idaho’s 3,000+ miles of famous whitewater, including nearby Salmon, Payette, and Snake Rivers. Idahoans love their rivers and the state is a well-known destination for all sorts of river sports including river surfing.
Rafters floating down Snake River Canyon during whitewater rafting trip

Salt Lake City, Utah

With its desert climate, few people would expect Salt Lake City to be a hotspot for river rafting. However, SLC offers not just access to nearby mountain streams, but it’s also central to the state’s varied and extensive whitewater options. To the north and south are the Weber and Provo Rivers, which provide scenic views as they wind through mountain valleys. Kayakers, rafters, and floaters alike frequent both rivers, which grant a sweet reprieve on scorching summer days.

Salt Lake is only a few hours south of Idaho’s rivers, and the Green River to the east winds through Wyoming and Colorado before bringing some of its best rapids to eastern Utah. Just a few hours south, locals can enjoy an abundance of rafting in Moab, which features everything from relaxing floats to intense whitewater rapids through sandy red canyons.

Whitewater rafters enjoying the river at Cataract Canyon in Utah
via National Park Service

Modesto, California

Made famous by George Lucas’ American Graffiti, this Central Valley city is situated just a few hours away from some of the best whitewater rafting in the state. While much of California has suffered from the recent drought, lowering river waters and accompanying new rapids have only worked to bolster the local rafting community.

Locals have access to a number of rivers, including the Tuolumne, Kaweah, Merced, and American, which all offer incredible whitewater and scenic vistas. Situated at the edge of the Eldorado and Stanislaus National Forests and Yosemite National Park, Modesto makes a perfect base camp for any outdoors-person.

Rafters enjoying an adventure in California
via Sunshine Rafting

Charleston, West Virginia

Like Salt Lake City and Boise, Charleston is central to rafting in its state. West Virginia is a hub of the rafting world – its myriad of rivers provide a wide range of water, from smooth streams to roaring rapids.

Chief among these is the New River. Ironically, New River is one of the oldest rivers on the continent. It’s also among the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in the East. The New River is divided into three sections – upper, middle, and lower – which all provide a different difficulty level. Moreover, Charleston is just three hours away from the meandering Shenandoah River, which features more family-friendly rapids.

Scenic view of Lower New River Rafting.
via Adventures on the Gorge

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About The Author
Jonathan Deesing
Jonathan Deesing is a home improvement and real estate writer who has written for Auction.com, Modernize, and Apartment Guide. When he's not fixing up his duplex he splits time between running and beekeeping.