White Water Rafting NH | Our Favorite Places to go Rafting

white water rafting NH

Considering white water rafting NH? You won’t regret your decision. After all, there are so many options for rafting, from calm waters to fast-moving waters best suited for more experienced thrill seekers.

If you’ve ever tried cycling, mountain climbing or hiking and enjoyed it, then you already know that outdoor adventures are a lot of fun and an excellent opportunity for family or friends or even a group, to bond and have a good time.  Engaging in outdoor sports is a great way to escape the daily routine and challenge the body.

Apart from the thrill of white water rafting NH, in addition it provides social, physical, emotional and intellectual benefits. To mention a few, it enhances learning ability (especially in children), increases creativity, builds social skills, provides healthy physical development, boosts attention span, improves motor skills, etc.  There are various outdoor sports, but whether you’re an expert athlete, a weekend pro-gamer, or you’re just looking for some jaw-dropping adventure, there is one sport that’s waiting for you, no matter your skill set – white water rafting.

White Water Rafting NH is a favorite water-based activity and one of the most adventurous water sports to get involved in.  It requires an inflatable raft to maneuver in a river or any other body of water. It is mostly done on white water and is practiced commercially, as a competitive sport, and privately in many places around the world.

Whitewater is formed when the water’s gradient increases enough to create an unstable current that appears white. Confronting risk and depending on teamwork, you charge down a river in an inflatable boat, trying to avoid whirlpools, hitting rocks and falling down waterfalls. It’s all part of that intoxicating adrenaline rush that it makes it an adventure to remember.

This is why whitewater rafting has become the go-to option for team building, youth groups, and vacation trips. A lot of sports just require individual performance, but whitewater rafting allows you to enjoy those mind-jolting moments and enjoy the joy and victory after each hurdle, right in the midst of the action, with the people around you.

While you’re on top of the hills and making fun memories on a white water rafting trip, you have the opportunity to experience nature in a whole new dimension. Whitewater rafting takes you to places where you see more nature and wildlife than people. It’s a great way just to ease off the stress and replenish from nature. This is why white water rafting is still evolving and engaging since it took wind around the 1950s and it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.

So, if you’re looking for a way to enjoy nature in a fun and exciting way, here is everything you need to know about white water rafting NH.

The essential elements of whitewater rafting are the rivers, the rafts, personal safety equipment, and training.

Where Can You Go White Water Rafting NH?

New Hampshire is packed with great spots to go white water rafting. Here are reviews of some of our favorite places to go white water rafting in New Hampshire.

  1. Raft NH and Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel

white water rafting NH
Photo Credit: raftnh.com

Raft NH and Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel provide an amazing outdoor adventure for friends and family. They specialize in summertime whitewater rafting trips and year-round dog sledding outings.

The white water rafting takes places in the famous White Mountains and Scenic North Greenwoods of northern New Hampshire.  There are rafting rides available for everyone from ages six and up and dog sledding rides from ages two, and up, they definitely have an adventure waiting for you!

Participation Package

  • Children from ages six and up can participate in the Errol & Pontook Dam rafting
  • Children from ages ten and up can join in the Magalloway River Rafting adventure
  • Children from ages twelve and up can participate in the Rapid River Rafting adventure
  • Participants below the age of eighteen must be supervised by a parent or guardian
  • Pregnant women are not allowed to participate
  • Participants who have recently suffered an injury or undergone surgery may not be allowed to participate.

Provisions

  • A safety guide
  • Safety gear – a lifejacket, paddle, and water rafting helmet
  • Comfort gear – wetsuit, dry tops, dry bottoms, and safety boots.
  • Transportation to the riverside and back
  • Light snacks
  • The Magalloway and Rapid river trips include a cookout at the end of the trip

What you need to bring:

  • A photo ID for reservations
  • A bathing suit, we do not recommend that you wear denim while white water rafting
  • A blanket for warmth while on the river – fleece, polyester, etc. fabrics that can keep you warm while wet
  • Footwear
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Sunglasses with straps, so they don’t get lost in the water
  • Any medication that you need- it will be kept safe and dry in the guide’s bag.
  1. North Woods Rafting at Mahoosuc Outdoors

white water rafting NH
Photo Credit: northwoodsrafting.com

This is your one-stop location for all-year-round adventure, complete with the best meals in the New Hampshire whitewater rafting industry. It is one of the oldest whitewater rafting companies in New Hampshire. North Woods Rafting began in 2002 and has developed over the years to offer maximum fun and maximum safety.

It is located eight minutes away from the Androscoggin River and five minutes away from the takeout.

After the whitewater rafting journey is done, you can return to the barn for a BBQ. Meals include sirloin steak, Atlantic salmon, grilled marinated chicken, homemade salads and sides with chocolate chip cookies and lemonade. The wonderful meals are accompanied by great music, company and a beautiful view of the Mahoosuc range, where horses graze in the pasture, with no extra cost to you!

Provisions

  • Safety conscious guides equipped with a high float Swift water Ranger life vest
  • Rafts fitted with a rescue throw rope and a first-aid kit
  • Transportation to and from the river
  • Delicious, filling meals
  • Safety helmets for guides and guests
  • Car parks
  • Stall rentals
  • Lodging at the Mahoosuc Inn

Participation Packages

  • Grade II and III whitewater rafting trips across the Androscoggin River
  • Canoe, Kayak and Tube rentals
  • Guided fishing tours
  • Whitewater rafting at the Pontook dam
  • Weekday river float trips
  1. ELC Outdoors

white water rafting NH
Photo Credit: @ELCOutdoors via Facebook

ELC Outdoors is a secure and quality whitewater rafting location in New Hampshire, running on its eighth year. It provides outdoor activities for small groups, families, summer camps and anyone who just seeks a fun time in nature’s environs.

They offer packages which include white water rafting, high ropes aerial adventures, wildlife tours, fishing trips, lodging, canoe, and kayak rentals.

It is located in Errol, New Hampshire, which gives it quick access to the rivers, the on-site yurt and camping lodge, the aerial rope course, and zip-line adventure.

ELC Outdoors imbibes the rules of sustainable tourism to foster community growth and improvement. Whether you seek a mild or wild experience, the expert guides and thrilling rides will make this choice a memorable one.

Participation Package

  • Androscoggin Rafting & High Ropes Adventure
  • Rapid River Rafting & High Ropes Adventure
  • Lake Umbabgog national wildlife tour
  • Fat bike rentals
  • Five day north country adventure camp
  • Team building and group programs
  • Canoe & Kayak Rentals
  • Whitewater kayaking trips
  • Summer adventure camp

Provisions

  • Strokes and maneuvers training techniques
  • Scouting rapids training
  • Paddler etiquette
  • Safety & self-rescue
  • Vacation rentals
  1. Mahoosuc Outdoors

white water rafting NH
Photo Credit: mahoosucoutdoors.com

Mahoosuc Outdoors invites you to join the North woods white water rafting trip this summer. It is a year-round lodging and outdoor event center. They have several packages available not depending on your level of expertise or exposure. You can enjoy these fun-filled guided group trips. They offer Androscoggin White water rafting at Pontook, grade II and III whitewater rafting adventure trips on the weekends in July and August.

Mahoosuc Outdoors is pet -friendly, with stalls on-site and it awaits you for great adventures on land and on water.

Participation Packages

  • Canoe rentals
  • Kayak rentals
  • Tube rentals
  • Guided fishing tours
  • Whitewater rafting at Pontook dam
  • Snowmobile trail access
  • On-site groomed walking trails

Provisions

  • Safety guides
  • Safety gear – a lifejacket, paddle, and water-rafting helmet
  • Comfort gear – wetsuit, dry tops, dry bottoms, and safety boots.
  • Shuttle services
  • Light snacks
  • Canoe or kayak rentals
  • Direct snowmobile trail
  • On-site walking trails
  1. Saco Bound Outdoors

white water rafting NH
Photo Credit: sacobound.com

Saco Bound Outdoors provides the perfect combination of safe, fun, affordable and adventure. From late April to mid-October, they offer canoe, tube, SUP and kayak rentals. Equipped with vast years of experience, they are fully able to provide you with tips, advice and as much information about the river as you need.  They offer trip planning, transportation and private shelters for those who own their own kayaks or canoes.

One of the best highlights of Saco bound is that upon your arrival there, you will be able to access the private, well-staffed, pull-in, free parking space without any need for shuttles to reach the river. You will also have access to the private take-outs, operated specifically for the convenience of the customers. If you are interested, there are private campsites.

Saco Bound runs six private riverfront facilities to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. If you want cool deals on a canoe or kayak, check their store. They have one of the largest collections of new, used, and demo kayaks, canoes, SUP boards, and paddling accessories in the eastern US, and at great prices too. You can go to their riverside base or their outposts in North Conway and Errol, NH.

Participation Packages

  • Full-suspension Mountain Bikes & High-end Road Bikes
  • Ride trails and road loops
  • Saco River Tubing
  • Umbabgog Wildlife Refuge
  • Direct Snowmobile Trail
  • On-site walking trails

Provisions

  • A safety guide
  • Safety gear – a lifejacket, paddle, and water rafting helmet
  • Comfort gear – wetsuit, dry tops, dry bottoms, and safety boots.
  • Shuttle services
  • Light snacks
  • Canoe or kayak rentals
  • Bike rentals and sales
  • Six private campsites
  • Private Access
  • No-fee parking
  • Private Take-outs
  1. Northern Water Outfitters

white water rafting NH
Photo Credit: beoutside.com

The Northern Water Outfitters have been on the water since 1973 and are perfectly able to handle any adventure you seek. As New Hampshire’s oldest whitewater rafting company, their packages including rafting, fishing, remote camping, and flat-water paddling. The remote sites are located on the Magalloway River, Umbagog Lake, canoe, kayak, and tube rentals.

Some of the sceneries include the Dixville Notch, National Wildlife Refuge and the Grafton Notch. Plus, there are great places to hike, bike and more. They have excellent packages for Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. This is the perfect location to start your white water rafting adventure.

Participation Package

  • Whitewater kayaking and canoeing lessons for beginners and novices; private, semi-private, two-day and three-day lessons
  • Three-hour pontoon tours across Lake Umbabgog
  • View of the New Hampshire Bald Eagle Nesting Site
  • Guided fishing trips
  • Camping trips
  • Outdoor recreational activities

Provisions

  • Safety guides for the different activities
  • Safety gear – a lifejacket, paddle
  • Comfort gear – wetsuit, dry tops, dry bottoms, and safety boots
  • Transportation to and from the access points
  • Private campsites
  • Light snacks
  • Canoe or kayak rentals
  • Direct snowmobile trail
  • Expert trip briefings and maps
  • Snowshoeing trips
  • Hiking trips

Whitewater Rafting – Rivers

Anyone can participate in the thrills of white water rafting. Whitewater rafting NH difficulty depends on how easy or tough it is to navigate through the waters. However, depending on how skillful you are, you will need to know the appropriate river or rapids for your level of experience. Rivers across the world are graded by the International Scale of River Difficulty. This system was developed in America and classifies white waters into 6 classes. I being the easiest and VI being the most dangerous. Grades I and II are the best rapids for beginners and family trips.

International Scale of River Difficulty

Grade I:  Grade I rapids are classified as the easiest. This is fast moving water, with little or no waves or obstructions to maneuver around. This water requires minimal steering, just enjoy the smooth glide.

Grade II: Grade II rapids are slightly more difficult than Grade I rapids. This water will usually have medium-sized waves that will require some light maneuvering around rocks. It has straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels.  The correct equipment and guides should be used.

It is excellent for adventuresome novices and intermediate level rafters – grade III and IV rapids provide challenges that are more technical, many confident beginners try grade III rapids on their first rafting trip.

Grade III: Grade III rapids have many moderate, irregular waves with fast currents and narrow passages. These waters can be powerful and a bit scary if you make a mistake. You may encounter some obstacles or rocks which can be hard to avoid. Careful maneuvering is needed to get through certain sections of the river

Grade IV: Grade IV rapids can be very difficult to move through and are for those with an advanced level of maneuvering skills. These rapids have cross-currents, fast and turbulent water and large, powerful waves and obstacles including rocks and strong eddies.

A rafter will need to have precise boat handling skills to stand the intense waves. There is a moderate to high risk of injury to whitewater rafters. Solid experience is highly recommended

Grade V: Grade V rapids are extremely difficult. These waters are intense and have powerful currents, cross-currents, large drops, and holes, as well as obstructed and turbulent rapids. Proper equipment, extensive experience, and rescue skills are needed on this trip. There is a great chance of injury to people in the water and rescuing can be a bit difficult.

Grade VI: Grade VI rapids are almost impossible to navigate. These waters are tough, unpredictable and dangerous. They are for teams of experts only, rescue might be impossible, and errors often have fatal consequences.

Now that we know what kind of water we can use for white water rafting, let’s discuss what kind of rafts can be used for white water rafting NH.

Whitewater Rafts

white water rafting NH

Modern whitewater rafts are made from quality materials such as Hypalon, Urethane, Neoprene and denier nylon and have great designs as well. In making the designs, manufacturers have factored in water dynamics, maneuverability, durability and safety. They are expertly designed for the turbulence of any whitewater rafting trip. They are also designed with several inflatable chambers, so if one punctures, there will still be air in the other chambers to keep the raft afloat

They vary in size from single individual models to varieties that can accommodate twelve or more individuals. However, the usual group size is about six to eight people with a guide at the back.

Usually, rafts have similar designs, with an upturned nose, a tail and a couple of thwarts – inflatable tubes lying across the base of the raft, which paddlers use to sit on. Thwarts are also used by paddlers to hold their feet down in the raft, while paddlers at the front use the foot loops fixed to the floor of the raft.

The guide usually has more experience on the boat and will often have either 1 or 2 longer paddles that will navigate the raft through the water. The guide has a job of driving the boat safely down the river and to tell the paddlers when and how to paddle to get through the rapids easily. The paddlers will have shorter single blade paddles and have to work together, paddling at the right time to create forward thrust in the direction needed.

Most white-water rafting trips are made in rented paddle rafts or oar rafts. Choosing your ideal raft will depend on what type of outing you’re planning.

Paddle Rafts

Paddle rafts provide sitting space for a group of four to eight individuals and a guide. They are inflatable, plastic rafts that are quick in the water and can be used in any grade of whitewater. Most commercial whitewater rafting services use paddle rafts. On this trip, everyone is expected to paddle, while the guide seated at the back of the boat belts out instructions. There is also a mini version of a paddle raft, the R2. It is a sporty and challenging model designed for two people.

Oar Rafts

If you prefer a less physical adventure, you should try the oar raft. They are inflatable and run by a guide with a set of long wooden oars. This raft usually seats three to five people along with the guide and are taken in grades of water with easy to intermediary difficulty.

There is a hybrid boat available- oar rafts with paddle aid. They are inflatable and maneuvered by a guide with a set of long wooden oars, but the passengers can assist in paddling. They can be used in rapids with an intermediary to advanced level difficulty.

Rafts are additionally categorized as self-bailers or catarafts.

white water rafting NH
Cataraft
Photo from hyside.com

Self-bailers

Self-bailer rafts have the same look as the conventional inflated rafts, but in these, the edges of the base are laced to the sides of the raft. As a result, this allows water to flow across the floor of the boat, down the edges and out through the lacings. Therefore, the raft bails out water by itself. Most modern rafts are self-bailers.

Catarafts

Catarafts are made of two inflatable tubes held together by a metal frame and are easier to maneuver than the self-bailers. They are designed to carry fewer passengers and are a good option for people seeking to own their own raft.

Training

The guides on a white water rafting trip are called river rats.  They are people with rapids experience who are hired as guides by commercial rafting companies. They make sure that your white water rafting experience is safe and fun. They are trained in whitewater rescue, CPR, first aid and other necessary skills.

Your guide will make sure you know how to paddle and instruct you on how to stay safe in the water.  Some guides will join you in the raft, and some will watch alongside in kayaks. Many guided trips last about three to four hours in the water and some services could last a full-day, multi-day and multi-sport packages.

The guide will join you at the beginning of your trip. You will be required to sign a release form and safety talk before heading to your raft.  You will receive U.S. coast guard approved life-vests – personal floatation devices (PFD), some service also require that you wear a helmet

Once a group is afloat in the raft, the guide will instruct you on basic paddling techniques and give you a little time to practice before you set out onto the river.  You don’t need to be an expert rower before you set out for your first time. However, you do need some basic knowledge of some moves –the forward stroke, the stern draw and the forward and reverse sweep

  • The Forward Stroke

This move allows you to take control of your boat by going faster or slower than the water’s current. This move should be applied to both sides of the boat to move. Otherwise, you would just be driving the boat in circles.

  • The Stern Draw

This stroke is used when you want to turn in the raft and avoid the turmoil of the river current. This method pulls the stern (the back of the boat) in alignment with the bow (the front of the boat) which keeps the raft in a relatively straight path. So, when you want to turn, the forward sweep can be applied.

  • Forward Sweep

This stroke allows you to turn the raft without slowing down, once the stern draw has been applied.

  • The Reverse Sweep

If you happen to find your raft going backward, use the reverse sweep. This stroke allows you to slow down and set the raft back in the right direction.

Whitewater Rafting Equipment

white water rafting NH
Credit to vecteezy.com

Apart from a raft, the river, and a paddle, what else do you need when going white water rafting NH? If you’re going on a trip with a tour guide, many times your gear will be provided for you, but if not, here’s an outline of what you need and why:

  • Wetsuit: Unless your whitewater rafting trip is in a tropical area with little wind, you’ll need a wetsuit. It should be thick enough to keep you warm, but not so thick that it causes any discomfort when you paddle. Be sure to dry off after the journey, pack a towel, a change of clothes and some water. Rafters are often thirsty after an exciting trip.
  • Footwear: A lot of tour guides will ask you to come along with spare trainers. Make sure that they have a good grip and are sturdy enough to protect your feet if you fall and can hold onto slippery rocks.

There’s another option of wetsuit boots, which do not provide the same traction or sturdiness but will keep your feet much warmer.

  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD): This is also called a buoyancy aid, they are lightweight jackets that will enable you to float on the water. You should get a slimline, open cut jacket that will allow you to move while paddling freely. There are both male and female varieties available, and each model has a different degree of floatation allowance. It is based on the user’s body weight, so be sure to get the right fit for your size.
  • Helmet: Whitewater rafting, while enjoyable, can be risky. There are a lot of rocks and paddles flying about, and in the midst of the fun, there is a good chance you could get bumped in the head. So, a helmet is a necessary piece of equipment to go along with. You will need a helmet that is designed for water sports, other helmets like skate helmets are not intended to handle water and can be damaged while rafting.

Rafting helmets come in several models, depending on your preferences. The peaked design will protect your eyes from the sun and keep the water out of your face. It is also recommended that you select a very bright or contrasting color which will make it easier to spot you if you fall in the water.

Safety for White Water Rafting

Before you start the journey, you will also need to learn how to “read” the river from your raft or from offshore. This is called scouting, and it helps you to look at the different elements of the river for any dangers before the journey begins.

You should first look at the big picture; this includes the direction of the water current, hazards like trees, large rocks. Then scout for details on the river course, such as an available rest stop, this is called eddies.

Even though the majority of rafting injuries happen during self-guided trips rather than guided trips. It is important to remember that these fun trips come with risks as a package deal, and even though you do not need to be an expert swimmer, you will need be in a good enough physical condition to paddle well and pull yourself up to safety if you fall overboard.  Just a few hours into this thrilling adventure can burn up a lot of energy (about 300 calories an hour) – it works up the arms, abs and the core.  River guides say that you should expect your shoulders and hips to feel sore after a long trip.

Five Reasons You Will Love White Water Rafting New Hampshire

  • Adventure – everyone needs some kind of adventure every once in a while. Let go of your comfort zone, take on some risk and feel the thrill of adrenaline that makes you escape and feel alive. It is an experience that will make memories sure to last.
  • Wildlife and Scenery – in the various locations for white water rafting in New Hampshire, nature abounds. The beautiful natural scenery, the rivers, the trees, the birds and the animals can be seen from your raft.
  • Health and Wellness – Adding some outdoor time to your calendar is great for your health and overall well-being. Choose white water rafting to get a healthy dose of vitamin D. Rafting also gives you a chance to exercise and have fun while you bustle through an aesthetically appealing environment that exemplifies the ambiance of nature. And when you are done, you can simply finish the night with a great sleep alongside one of the Maine Rivers.
  • Guides and Information – The white water rafting guides in New Hampshire are not only a pleasure to be around, but they also have vast information about the whitewater rivers, its environs and the tales and lore surrounding the river community. These guides take pride in making sure their guests are properly cared for. From the moment they arrive, there is entertainment. It’s a fun whitewater experience for all.
  • Fun times with loved ones – white water rafting is a number one family trip. The time spent here with family, friends or loved ones is always memorable. Children unplug and let loose, couples and friends bond.

These are just a few reasons why we love white water rafting NH! We can’t wait for you to discover your own reasons to love this awesome sport in this awesome location.

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