There are more than 250,000 rivers rolling through the United States. From coast to coast and within every single state you can fish, float and swim. Whether you prefer to enjoy our country’s rivers from their banks with a pole in hand or in a kayak, canoe or boat, there are no shortage of opportunities to enjoy them.
This week’s Bucket List brings you seven waterways ideal for those who like their rivers with a side of adventure. With names like Rogue and Rio Grande, these rivers offer some of the best whitewater rafting sure to cause white knuckles and plenty of adrenalin.
Paste Travel’s Bucket List columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
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There are plenty of ways to explore the Grand Canyon, but one of the most exciting options is via the Colorado River. Throughout its 1,450 miles, the river passes through 11 nation parks and is considered a premier whitewater rafting destination. The Grand Canyon portion is extremely popular, so much in fact that tens of thousands of people complete the run each year.
Photo by Kenny X. Li, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Alaska's 150-mile-long Nenana River offers class I through IV rapids (easy to very difficult), making it popular among rafters of all varieties. This glacial river is home to some of the state's best rafting runs and the fact that it passes along the eastern border of Denali National Park is an added perk.
Photo by Jarrel Jimmerson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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South Carolina's Chattooga River offers a range of rapids for all skill levels. For those looking for something a little more calm, stick to what is known as the West Fork portion of the river. If it's adrenalin you're craving, there are sections with class II through V rapids, a well. The best time to hit the river is in spring and early summer. Not only is the river higher, but its banks are lined with pink and white mountain laurel and the surrounding Sumter and Chattahoochee National Forests will be bursting with life.
Photo by John Getchel, CC BY-NC 2.0
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Spring through early fall, the 76-mile Deerfield River is a prime rafting spot for those looking for class II through IV rapids. While the river flows from Vermont to Massachusetts, the latter is home to the most excitement. Between the Monroe and Fife Brook dams you'll find rapids with names like Devil's Odds, the Terminator and Landslide all of which are sure to leave you with white knuckles as you pass through the beauty of the Berkshires.
Photo by Keith Carver, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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New Mexico's portion of the Rio Grande offers some seriously scenic rafting, especially as you pass through the Rio Grande Gorge. At 50 miles long and 800 feet deep, it's home to class II through V rapids. Many guided rafting trips will include two sections of this popular run, known as the Racecourse and the Taos Box, as well as more relaxing floats through Orilla Verde State Park.
Photo by Daxis, CC BY-ND 2.0
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At more than 200 miles long, Oregon's Rogue River has one of the most famous whitewater rafting runs in the country. Near Grants Pass, the run offers nearly 35 miles of white-knuckle fun. Space on the run is limited daily for all boaters and a permit is required, so plan accordingly.
Photo by Eric May, CC BY-NC 2.0
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Dubbed the "River of No Return," rafting Idaho's Salmon River might sound ominous, but its 425 miles offer a variety of rafting options with rapids that range from intense to the downright docile. Depending on what run you set out on, you'll travel through the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, several national forests, extreme wilderness and the second deepest canyon in North America.
Photo by Nicholas D., CC BY-NC 2.0