Having Fun on Pocono White Water
The Poconos, short for the Pocono Mountain region, is a geographical, geological, and cultural region located in northeastern Pennsylvania, United States. They are part of the larger Allegheny Plateau the Poconos forming a 2,400 square mile area that overlooks two of Pennsylvania’s most popular white water rafting rivers, the Lehigh River and the Delaware River. Both are home to the best white water rafting in the Poconos.
The Delaware River is the last major undammed river in the eastern United States. It supports a healthy ecosystem and offers many opportunities for a variety of recreational activities – including rafting, hiking, fishing, and animal watching. Water levels vary, depending on the winter snow runoff, and rain. But when the water is up, so is rafting excitement!
Many visitors come to the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River to watch the flocks of eagles soaring overhead. For those who come to fish, tube, raft or paddle in the cold, clear waters running through the river valley, they won’t be disappointed even if the water is too low to paddle. The Lehigh Gorge State Park is also full of hiking trails, and spots where nature enthusiasts can watch for animals. River corridors are natural transportation routes and so the gorge has a great diversity of plants and animals including:
- Great blue herons
- A variety of ducks
- The occasional black bear
- Fence lizards
- Warblers, especially black-and-white and magnolia warblers
One of the best parts about exploring Pennsylvania and the dozens of state parks, is that there are no entrance fees or day use fees for any state park in Pennsylvania.
Places to Go in the Poconos
Skinner’s Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the park. This river access point permits entry to the river for Skinners Falls, NY.
The Poconos are also home to about 28 miles of the famous Appalachian Trail.
White Water Rafting Rivers in the Poconos
When you raft the Poconos you’ll be surrounded by state park protected mountain views. With 12 miles of river and 4-5 hours of Class II, III whitewater rafting and breathtaking scenery, you’ll go home tired and happy, loaded with some great memories. Everyone from ages 8 and up, with no experience, to advanced experience can enjoy rafting the Poconos. Thanks to a dam release river that keeps water levels high year round, you’ll enjoy more than 17 rapids on your trip down the Lehigh River Gorge.
Pocono White Water Rivers
There are many streams, creeks, and tributaries leading into the two primary rivers. Many can be navigated with tubes, or kayaks, but if you want to white water raft in the Poconos, these are the two rivers you want to do it on.
● The Lehigh River
● The Delaware River
Eagles and Bears on the Upper Delaware River
In recent years the Bald Eagle has returned to the Upper Delaware in ever increasing numbers. If you’ve never seen one, let alone a flock of these awe inspiring birds, here’s your chance. More than 100 eagles migrate to the Upper Delaware each winter in search of open water, fresh and abundant fish and undisturbed habitat. Bald eagles are now nesting along the Delaware River, and are often seen hunting near areas of open water.
It’s estimated that at least 200 different eagles use the Delaware River for some period of time during the winter months, making a winter bird-watching trip to the park during cold weather a must-do for any serious birder. Depending on weather conditions, the eagles begin arriving in mid-December, but by mid-March most of the eagles begin the return flight to their breeding areas in the north. However, each year park officials find that “resident” eagles are staying in the Upper Delaware, building their nests and raising their young. The Upper Delaware River offers several eagle viewing spots for non rafters and rafters alike, but be sure you don’t disturb the birds if you do go looking for them.
Pennsylvania Park officials say that with an estimated 18,000 black bears roaming across most of Pennsylvania, your chances of encountering a bear in the state are greater than at any other time over the past several hundred years. The good news is, most of them are more afraid of you than you are of them. Still, it’s smart to know what to do when you see a bear.
- If you’re in your car, stay in your car. Bears, as docile as they may seem, can become alarmed and dangerous in an instant.
- Don’t feed the bear. As common sense as it may seem, people ignore this warning every year, and often suffer an attack.
- You’re most likely to encounter with a black bear while driving, and if anyone is hurt, it’s most likely to be your car. Hitting a bear – average weight of 200 pounds and possibly topping 600 pounds – is nothing like hitting a deer, which on average weight 140 pounds for a mature buck.
For more tips on how to survive an encounter with a bear in Pennsylvania visit here
White Water Rafting Poconos Outfitters – Pocono White Water
There are several white water rafting outfitters offering guided trips on the Poconos. Each outfitter has different prices, and amenities, but most put-in and take-out and run the same regulated stretches of water. Some outfitters pride themselves more on being family oriented, while others focus on running bigger water and working with more advanced rafters. Before booking your trip, speak to each of the outfitters whose offerings most closely match the kind of trip you’re looking for.
Explore reviews on Yelp.com, Tripadvisor.com and other sites to see what other rafter experienced on their trip. Be sure to read all the policies on each website as well. Think about things like:
● Safety record
● Cancellation policies – this can mean both your cancellation, or theirs
● Camping or accommodations on site, or close by?
● Does the outfitter sell bottled water, or other supplies you may forget to bring?
● Rental of extra gear – like wetsuits
● What is provided or included in the trip price
● Age or weight restrictions for younger participants
● Can your entire family share a raft, or will you be placed in different rafts
● Does the trip run rain or shine?
● Do they have showers? Flush toilets or vault?
What to Wear While White Water Rafting in the Poconos
If you’re paddling in the heat of summer, all you’ll need is a lightweight t-shirt, a pair of shorts (preferably long swim trunks – yes, even for the women), and an old pair of sneakers or wet suit booties. Leave the loose fitting sandals, flip-flops, “crocs” at home. Don’t think you can get away going barefoot. Most outfitters require sneakers, or snug fitting sandals (like Tevas) that attach firmly at the toe and heel. Rocks in the rivers are sharp rocks and will cut you. Wet suit booties are best since sneakers tend to slip off, or fill with sand and become heavy.
Bring sunscreen and eyeglass straps. If you wear contacts, leave an extra pair in the car as they will wash out if you enter the water and don’t close your eyes! Make sure you bring a dry change of clothes with you – because yes, you will get wet! A baseball cap, visor, or sunglasses are helpful in bright, sunny weather.
Don’t wear cotton. When cotton gets wet it loses all insulation value and will actually make you colder, not warmer. Look for fast drying synthetics designed for white water rafting, fishing etc. If there’s the slightest change of things cooling off, or of rain, bring a windbreaker or a light wool camping sweater and/or a wool ski-type hat. In colder conditions (Spring and Fall), plan on wearing a wet suit. Bring your own, or rent one ($12 to $20 depending on whether you rent the entire suit) if they’re available at the outfitter. A bathing suit or synthetic long underwear can be worn underneath the wet suit. You’ll be very glad you have it and when, you fall in the river.
Located just a short drive from the historic town of Jim Thorpe, Whitewater Rafting Adventures has been an outdoor adventure and rafting guide for over 30 years. Family owned and operated, they offer guided rafting trips on Class II and III rapids on the Lehigh River. They also offer a 900-foot long Zipline. If you or your kids are into paintball, and have energy left after your raft trip, consider an adrenaline pumping Paintball shootout or enjoy a leisurely bike ride along the Lehigh Gorge Trail.
Pocono White Water Adventures
Offers 3 to 4 hour family rafting adventure on an 8 mile stretch of the Lehigh River. This eight mile, Class I and II whitewater rafting trip also has a touch of Class III whitewater. This section of the Lehigh River is ideal for beginners, kids ages 4 and older, school groups, and adults that just want to kick back and enjoy the great outdoors in the Pocono Mountains. One of the most unique things about the Pocono White Water outfitters rafting adventure is the “Free, All-You-Can-Eat, Riverside Barbecue!” Their free BBQ is offered Memorial Day-Labor Day and weekends in May, September and October. The staff cooks and serves you a picnic lunch of hot dogs, macaroni salad, chips, fruit, lemonade and water. They have their own riverside meadow – complete with picnic tables, food service, and portable restrooms.
If you’re up for a “Big Night Out,” Pocono White Water Adventures has you covered, beginning with exploring an abandoned railroad tunnel with a beautiful view of the Lehigh River. After the tunnel, you’ll grab a raft down the scenic Lehigh River. You’ll pass 18th century dams, locks and dwellings along the way. At the end of your trip, you’ll enjoy a free riverside taco dinner to fuel up for the biking portion of your evening. That’s right! Think of the Big Night Out as a triathlon, without the pressure of winning or racing.
Following dinner, you’ll be provided with a bike to cruise 20 miles of trail as the sun begins to set. Don’t worry if the sun sets, you’ll have trained guide and trail to lead you back to Camp. Once you see the light from the roaring bonfire you’ll know you’re only minutes away from a cold beer and staffers waiting to welcome you home.
Jim Thorpe River Adventures
The Jim Thorpe Adventures offers beginning rafters an easy intro to whitewater option as well as higher rated waters for more advanced paddlers. Their Intro to Whitewater trip is 10 miles long – and has about 10 or more nice, easy to navigate rapids. The trip down river takes about 4 hours, and starts in Glen Onoko, and ends in Bowmanstown. Unlike many outfitters, they also offer rafters a chance to paddle their own rafts, with guides in kayaks directing you. You’re in control, but there’s help just yards away should you need it. Called, “Bigtime White Water,” the outfitter says this advanced trip is perfect for:
● Experienced Rafters
● Healthy, Aggressive beginners who don’t mind paddling
● Outdoorsy Kids age 8 and older
● People seeking the maximum adventure on the Lehigh River
● Those who look forward to running over 20 named rapids
● Anyone who look forward to being in a raft for 5 hours
They discourage rafters who are:
● Senior Citizens
● Those with health issues or medical conditions that might affect their performance
● People who are overweight
● People who, for whatever reason, are fearful
● Family groups with very small paddlers – everyone in the raft must be able to paddle
● Those people with Special Needs
Kittatinny Canoes Inc.
The Delaware River provides plenty of crystal clear water and rapids all season long. Regular releases from five different reservoirs maintain the river flow. No experience is necessary for rafters. Rafting on the river is perfect for novices and families, and is sure to be the highlight of any vacation. Rippling Class I and II water combined with the occasional calm pools along the Delaware, offer paddlers plenty of time to enjoy a picnic lunch or to lay back and sunbathe. Swim in the crystal clear water, or explore the water’s edge with your kids for souvenir pebbles, or a chance to get a glimpse at aquatic life.
Kittatinny rafts hold up to six people, which makes rafting the perfect choice for groups and families. Bring your camera, (in a waterproof bag of course) because you’ll be paddling beneath cliffs and spectacular rock formations as you take in the breathtaking panorama of the Pocono and Catskill Mountains.
If rafting isn’t enough, this outfitter offers dual racing zip lines, camping, and paintball as part of your adventure. If you have kids, this is a great outfitter.
They also have camping – the Kittatinny Campground, located in Barryville, NY offers more than 250 rugged acres with 350 primitive, secluded campsites in the Catskills Mountains. You can camp in the woods, or along the river’s bank.
Landers River Trips
Landers offers five “launch and land” locations, letting you choose the level of excitement and class of water you want to experience. They also have 4-to-6 people per raft, making for a faster, more fun-filled trip and less crowding. Like most outfitters, they also offer camping, tubing, and kayaking, equipment rentals and guided and unguided trips. They also have half, full day and overnight trips. One of the best parts about Landers is their camping option. They have three riverfront campgrounds located on the Upper Delaware River. All of their campgrounds are riverfront and boast breathtaking views of the river.
Each campground feature modern facilities, electric sites, lean-tos, and hot showers. Each campground has its own camp store with snacks if you get a late night craving or forget to bring a vital piece of camping equipment – like S’Mores ingredients.
White Water Rafting Adventures
Family owned and operated, Whitewater Rafting Adventures has been offering outdoor adventures for nearly 40 years. Located just a short drive from the historic town of Jim Thorpe, they are a centrally located in the Poconos.
They offer guided Class III Whitewater rafting, EZ Whitewater, or a summer rafting trips on the LeHigh River. Also available is a 900′ zip line on site, over 40 acres of paintball fields, and rails to trails biking in the Lehigh Gorge State Park. Discounts are available for military, first responders, groups, students, children under 14, and loyal customers.
2018 Whitewater Release Dates
● May – 12, 19, 26, 27
● June – 9, 10, 23, 24
● July – 7, 8, 21, 22, 28, 29
● August – 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25*, 26*
● September – 1*, 2*
● October – 6*, 7
Pocono White Water Challengers
Just 2.5 hours from NYC and 1.5 hours from Philadelphia White Water Challengers offers a quick one-to-two day vacation on the water. Choose Family-Style Whitewater (ages 5+) or our more exciting Premier Whitewater Rafting (ages 9+). White Water Challengers offers a variety of trips on special dam release days. Along with the guided tours they offer, they also have equipment rentals for those who want to try their hand at self-guided trips. They have inflatable kayaking, biking and other rental options as well as camping options.
If you can’t get enough water, sign up for their white water rafting marathon, 6-8 hours on the river and Class 2-3 whitewater the whole way. If you have a Scout group, wedding party, Fraternity or Sorority group, a family reunion, or other group you want to fill a trip with, contact them for information on the thrill of the Lehigh River Gorge in a more intimate, small-trip format. You’ll enjoy a more personalized adventure, complete with a complimentary deluxe riverside deli-style lunch, provided mid-trip by your river guides. Trip size is limited to 45 people. A complimentary deluxe riverside deli-style lunch is included.