There are countless activities you can partake in during your vacation or leisure period, but arguably, there’s none more entertaining than white water rafting NY. Everyone needs a break from the daily hustle and bustle every once in a while. Whitewater rafting is an excellent leisure sport that will leave your vacation with fun-filled memories.
New York, the most populous city in the United States, is a place filled with endless opportunities, entertainment, research, technology, education, tourism, and sports. It’s also a great place to go on wonderful white-water rafting trips.
There are many classes of river rafting depending on the risk involved in a rafting trip. These classes also important because some people prefer a calm and composed trip with slight maneuvering, this falls in the Class I category. The middle categories which are class II and III may involve slight maneuvering but no considerable danger. While the top categories like class IV, V and VI require some level of mastery of rafting because they include huge waves and rocks which will need precise maneuvering.
If you’re a beginner at water rafting, you can try the lower categories before advancing to higher classes.
White Water Rafting NY: The 3 Main Rivers
New York is located close to the Hudson River, the Black River and the Moose River which are all wonderful spots for whitewater rafting.
The Upper Hudson River Gorge is located in the Adirondack Mountains and spans about 17 miles. It’s about a three and a half-hour drive from New York City making the trip a bit out of reach for a day trip for many. Keep in mind, there are more than a few lodging options near Warrensburg, New York.
Although river flow varies with seasonal fluctuations, a minimum age of 14 is required to go on rafting trips around April and May, these are the high water months. The age limit is lowered during other months when the water is lower. Families with much younger children may consider rafting the Middle Gorge. The Middle Gorge is about seven miles long and suitable for participants ages eight and up.
Consider a trip to the Hudson River and you are assured a tremendous blend of perfect scenery and thrilling whitewater.
The Black River is another great place for invigorating whitewater rafting in NY. Watertown, New York, which is about a five-hour drive from New York City is the place where this trip starts. It is a seven-mile river filled with whitewater features.
The Black River is great for family trips during the low-water summer months. It is also suitable for class III whitewater rafting but a minimum age of 14 is advisable during the high-water spring months because the river is usually filled with Class IV and V rapids.
This river is well known for its perfectly swimmable warm water, narrow rock gorges, and beautiful scenery, hence why it’s a great place for whitewater rafting NY.
One of the most challenging places to go whitewater rafting in New York is the Lower Moose River. During peak spring water flow, the Lower Moose River offers a thrilling 13-mile run through Class IV–V rapids.
Many outfitters suggest that participants should be at least 18 years of age and have previous whitewater experience before they raft on the Moose River. There is a possibility of encountering large rocks and drops which require very precise maneuvering to avoid injury.
The Middle Moose is a suitable place for whitewater rafting for beginners and families. You’ll definitely enjoy the scenery of the Moose River. Rafting trips start near Old Forge Town, New York which is a five-hour drive from New York City.
White Water Rafting NY: Our Favorite Tour Guides & Rentals in the Area
There are many whitewater rafting agency options in New York. Here’s a list of the best Rafting Options in New York State based on our research and personal experience.
Destination Backcountry is a wilderness guide agency founded by outdoor professionals, as well as experienced teachers and guides. They offer adventure trips through the pristine forests in the Adirondacks Park located upstate in Northville, New York.
They offer both day and overnight trips allowing you to fish on wild rivers and quiet ponds, and to float and swim on peaceful lakes. It’s a perfect vacation trip for your family and friends. The calm spots and mild rapids allow people of all ages, both young and old, to participate in their adventure trips.
Sourced Adventures is a group founded in New York by a group of adventure travel industry experts and enthusiasts. They specialize in providing tours and different kinds of adventures to people in different states all over the United States.
Whitewater rafting NY trips happen to be one of the adventure trips they offer to those staying in the region.
The adventure takes place on the Lehigh River, a 9-mile long river filled with class III rapids which offers exhilarating whitewater experiences and lush scenery. It’s about a 2-hour drive from New York City, so you have a place to feel secluded and a place to escape from the city on hot summer days.
You can join their bus for the trip at 85 Delancey St on the Lower East Side between Ludlow & Orchard. In addition, there’s a second pick up at West 45th & 11th Ave on the street across from Gotham Market. From there, you’ll proceed to the Lehigh River for approximately three to four hours of a thrilling whitewater rafting experience. They also provide for lunch in between rafting sessions.
About 5-8 people are paired up in each raft so there’s space for other people you’re taking along. However, only participants 18 years and older are allowed to come on this trip and knowledge of swimming is highly suggested although it’s not required.
The Trip Includes:
- About 3-4 hours of rafting class II and III rapids on the Lehigh River Gorge with Lunch
- Life-vest, paddle and raft
- Sourced Adventures guide
- And round-trip transportation
Overall, Source Adventures provide one of the best possible whitewater rafting experiences in New York with well-trained group leaders on every bus who that you have the best time possible.
Adirondacks River Outfitters Adventures, also known as A.R.O. Adventures, is not a new player in the business of taking people on fun-filled adventure trips. They are one of the leading whitewater rafting NY companies and they’ve been doing it for about thirty-three years.
You have a choice to choose from any of the three main rivers near New York City, including the Hudson River, the Black River and the wild Moose River.
The Hudson River has the longest stretch of whitewater in New York and spans about 17 miles. The adventure begins on the Indian River and continues through the Hudson River Gorge.
After your trip, you can extend your adventure by an additional day or a week in their Hudson River Adventure Center located in North River. There are other activities offered as well to make your vacation a memorable one, such as aerial adventure ropes and a zip-line course, as well as a wooded paintball course.
The Black River trip is filled with exhilarating Class IV rapids and pristine scenery. Because the Black River gorge is narrow, water movement is constricted giving it an increased velocity, thus increasing the excitement.
There are 14 major sets of class II-IV rapids along the trip which include the Cruncher, the Hole Brothers, Knifes’ Edge, and Zig- Zag. After the whitewater section of the river, the rafts are hooked together and towed by a powerboat. A mid-trip snack and post-trip BBQ is also provided to spice up the trip.
The Moose River trip is the wildest whitewater rafting trip in the Northeast. It frightens even some whitewater veterans! The minimum age allowed is 18 and a prior knowledge of class III whitewater rafting is highly suggested.
It’s a 3-4-hour trip which is about 13 miles long and runs from McKeever NY to Fowlersville, NY. It’s packed with Class IV-V rapids, frigid waters, and big drops which require precise maneuvering. After the trip, you can enjoy a hot BBQ dinner in Old Forge, N.Y.
With ARO Adventures touring the three major rivers near New York City, you are assured of an exciting whitewater rafting NY experience.
The Delaware River is a place that abounds with clear waters running through the river valley. Upper Delaware also features a national park which is used for many water sports including whitewater rafting.
The River offers mild class II and III rapids all season long. The river flow is controlled from five different reservoirs, so you can go on whitewater rafting trips with no prior experience of the sport. This is a perfect place for novices and families!
If you are also looking to catch the scenery of the Pocono Mountains, then this is perhaps the best way to see it.
Lander’s River Trips has an excellent rafting team that can take you on a wonderful whitewater rafting trip. Lander’s River Trips has grown since the time it started and it now encompasses more than 70 miles on the river, starting from Hancock to Port Jervis. They also boast of eight launch sites and three campgrounds.
With up to 5 launch and land locations, you have the freedom to choose your level of adventure. About 4 to 6 people are paired on a raft for each 2.5 to 5-hour trip.
The Lander’s River Trips Skinner’s Fall Campground covers about 4 trips with stop locations after every 5 or 10 miles. Other campgrounds which are located at Minisink and Narrowsburg are strategically placed to ensure you have the best experience possible. Their headquarter office is located near Narrowsburg Camp.
Lander’s River Trips offers you 3 options to choose from. The shortest trip is the Skinner’s Falls trip which is just about 1/4 of a mile, it offers some rapids and you can do it all over and over again. The longest trip is the Skinner’s Falls to Narrowsburg trip, which can take up to 4 hours, so it can serve as the perfect day spent on the river. Lastly, the trip which is not too long and not too short is the Minisink to Wild & Scenic trip. This trip lasts about 2 hours and offers a great blend of rapids and beautiful scenery.
Silver Canoe & Whitewater Rafting is another agency that can take you on a fun-filled trip through the Delaware. They are located in Port Jervis, NY and they offer excellent whitewater rafting services on the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River.
6 people are paired on each raft with smaller rafts taking about 2-3 people for smaller groups. They offer two trips along the Delaware River, the first from Pond Eddy to Port Jervis Landing and the second from Mongaup to Port Jervis.
The Pond Eddy to Port Jervis Landing trip starts at their Pond Eddy Base and runs for about 9 miles. This is a 4-5-hour trip depending on how fast you can paddle, as well as the water level that day. There are sets of mild rapids along the way coupled with the lovely view of the Hawks Nest section of the river. You are allowed to stop on the way and picnic along the side of the river before continuing your trip.
The Mongaup to Port Jervis trip is shorter than the one to Pond Eddy. It’s about 3 miles long and lasts for about 1.5 to 2.5 hours. This trip offers you the opportunity to paddle your way through the Mongaup rapids, the Millrift rapids and the Eddy Farm Rapids. You can also have a view of the picturesque Hawks Nest section of the river.
Overall, the Silver Canoe and Whitewater Rafting company offers you a great whitewater rafting NY experience, especially if you are looking for a nice time out with friends and family.
Discover Outdoors is one of the best adventure guide companies for hiking, camping, and backpacking and, of course, whitewater rafting NY. Some of the adventure trips they offer include whitewater rafting along the Hudson River, through the Lehigh River, as well as a trip along the famous route of the Seven Carries.
The Hudson River Trip is an overnight adventure. The first day will be spent hiking Snowy Mountain, giving you a picturesque view of the majestic peaks and a sense of what’s to come before camping for the night.
The second day is all about navigating through the powerful Hudson river, which features Class I- IV rapids. Plus, snag a view of New York’s tallest peaks. After the day’s adventure, you will return to the camp for a BBQ feast before you depart the next morning.
The Lehigh River trip also features about 17 class I – III rapids along the 12-mile ride which lasts for about 3.5 to 4 hours. It’s a perfect trip for novice and veteran paddlers looking for a fun-filled adventure day.
Lastly, the trip through the Seven Carries is a trip for friends and family alike. The route is filled with shallow ponds and lakes located among the ancient woodlands and these waterways beautify the scenic St Regis Mountain. Discover Outdoors offers a three-day adventure trip that starts with meeting a guide at Broadway and West 76th Street from which you drive to the Adirondack Mountains.
The first paddling trip is about 2-3 hours it starts from the St. Regis Canoe Area before settling down to camp for the night. The second day is spent exploring the remote wilderness with the option to hike St. Regis Mountain or continue to explore the lake before returning to the camp for the night. The third day starts with breakfast before paddling for about 2-3 hours back to New York.
The adventure trip is ideal for people who want to take a break from city life and explore a pristine wilderness area with the help of knowledgeable guides.
The Downtown Boathouse is a free kayaking adventure agency. You’re wondering if this kind of “free” thing exists in New York. Yes, it does! All the equipment is paid for by donations and the labor is provided by volunteers.
The trips take place in protected Hudson River embayment at Pier 26 from mid-May to Mid-October which is the weather permitting season suitable for this kind of sport. A brief instruction is offered before the trip. All necessary safety equipment as well as changing rooms, lockers and locks, bike locks, and first aid equipment are provided.
The trip offers an avenue to create a personal connection with the Hudson waterfront and among young and old in the community. A guardian must be present for participants under the age of 18 to oversee their activities throughout the trip. The trip lasts for about 3 hours on the open Hudson River and previous paddling experience is suggested by outfitters.
You can’t make reservations as the program is based on first come, first served but you’re allowed to bring a group of friends along on your trip.
Whitewater Challengers is another whitewater rafting agency with more than 40 years’ experience. They have three whitewater rafting locations which are the Hudson River, the Lehigh River, and the Black River.
The Hudson River trip is a two-day trip that offers you 15 miles of action and lots of exhilarating class III and IV rapids. It takes a total of about 4.5-6 hours on the river and 7-8 hours of your day.
There are different age limits for different times of the year. Participants below the age of 18 are not allowed in April and other high-water months. In addition, participants below the age of 12 are not allowed from May 1 until Memorial Weekend. Participants above age 7 are allowed from Memorial Day through October.
Apart from the whitewater rafting trip, they also offer other adventure activities and games such as an Aerial Zipline Course and Paintball.
The Lehigh River trip varies depending on the class of rapids and number of hours you’re wanting to spend on the river. The three major whitewater rafting NY trips are Premier Whitewater Rafting, Family Style Whitewater and Whitewater Marathon.
The Premier Whitewater Rafting features some thrilling class II and III rapids with the trip lasting about 3-4 hours on the river. Participants must be at least 9 to go on this trip.
The Family Whitewater Rafting along the Lehigh River is a 2.5 – 3-hour trip on the river. It features family-friendly class I and II rapids with calmer spots making it suitable for participants ages 5 and older to go on the trip.
The longest river adventure (about 25 miles) is the Whitewater Marathon which is a 6-8-hour trip on the river. It features class II and III rapids making it suitable for participants of ages 12 and above to go on the trip.
Lastly, the Black River Canyon trip offers a thrilling whitewater rafting experience with its class III and IV rapids. It includes a total of 3-4 hours on the river and 5-6 hours in total. You can also enjoy camping alongside the rafting center at the Black River Bay Campground. About 6 to 9 people will be on a raft so you can bring your family and friends on this trip.
Indian Head Canoes is another agency that offers whitewater rafting services on the Delaware River. The Upper Delaware River (as mentioned earlier) is located in a region between the Pocono and Catskill Mountains. It is known for its pristine beauty.
They have about five different rafting trips on the Delaware River including 3 Mile Access to Barryville, Ten Mile River to Barryville, Barryville to Pond Eddy, Knights Eddy to Matamoras, and Pond Eddy to Matamoras.
The longest trip which is from Barryville to Pond Eddy is about 9 miles leading to a total paddling session of about 4-5 hours. No prior experience in rafting is needed but some experience in canoes and kayaks is suggested.
Apart from the mild rapids you’ll encounter, you can also feed your eyes with scenic landscape and wildlife. Indian Head Canoes offer exciting whitewater rafting trips which kids and adults can all enjoy.
Whitewater Rafting Safety Tips
Whitewater rafting is a thrilling and fun outdoor sport and a great way to enjoy your vacation no matter what your ability or experience level is. In recent times, whitewater rafting NY is not just for the hardcore adventure seeker, it has also become an activity that families enjoy together.
To fully enjoy this experience there are some safety tips that you can follow. Below are safety rules that will give you and your family a great whitewater rafting experience.
Choose a licensed and professional whitewater rafting guide agency.
Some of the best whitewater rafting NY agencies have been listed in this article. You can choose based on the river you wish to paddle, the level of difficulty and other services rendered by the different outfitters. Check how long a company has been in business and ask them what kind of training their guides undergo, as this will help you uncover how reliable a rafting agency is. Selecting a professional rafting guide agency helps to ensure that important safety rules are strictly followed.
Always wear a life jacket or some type of floatation device.
A life jacket is as good as useless if it’s not worn properly. Always make sure that all buckles are clipped, and the jacket fits perfectly to your body. You can ask for help from your guide if you don’t know how to wear a life jacket properly.
Have the right outfit for a whitewater rafting trip.
The water may be a little cold especially in early Spring. Wearing a splash jacket, wetsuit, and proper river shoes will help you stay more comfortable on your trip, allowing you to enjoy the thrill without the chill.
Also, be prepared for bright sunny days during summer. You can do this by wearing quick-drying clothes, applying sunscreen and bringing a pair of sunglasses with UV protection. Remember, the sun’s rays can still burn your skin even when it doesn’t feel hot outside.
Always be ready to swim!
You might fall out of the raft especially when you encounter large rapids and you might not be able to get back in until the end of the rapid. If you aren’t a strong swimmer or can’t swim at all, let your guide know before you embark on the trip.
Should you choose to swim all the way to the shore, make sure you never stand up in a moving current. If you do, you could be swept off your feet or put your foot in a hole or crack at the bottom of the river.
Also, make sure to tighten your Personal Floatation Device from time to time as they tend to loosen with water action.
- Learn how to paddle properly
Not holding the paddle properly can be a big safety issue. One hand should be at the base of the paddle while the other hand should be on the end of the shaft over the “T” grip.
Keep your hand over the “T” grip, this will help you to keep control of the paddle and cushion a blow from the paddle. Otherwise, it can give you a black eye if it hits you in the face.
Also paddle together and not harder than your partner(s). One person cannot make the raft move faster. Instead, paddling in unison with your raft mates will make the raft move faster. A full team paddling at half strength is better than half of the team paddling at full strength.
Listen to your guide.
Professional rafting guide agencies allow guides to give safety talks and pre-rafting drill exercises before embarking on the main trip. Guides will tell you a lot of things ranging from how and when to paddle, what to wear, and where to swim in case you fall out.
Always listen to them because they have a lot of experience and have been in many rafting situations.
Don’t panic if it’s your first time.
First timers tend to panic when they fall into a rough rapid, but it only becomes scarier if you panic. The best thing to do is relax and know that swimming through whitewater is not that bad and you’ll feel better once you get used to it.
Rafting is always scary for first-timers, but you should be able to go on rafting trips without fear if you follow these simple tips.