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5 Whitewater Trips for the Whole Family

Vacation planning can be stressful. Your boss gives you 5 days of freedom, but if you’ve got to plan around your kids’ school schedules, sync up with your significant other, and pray the weather is what you want it.  The list goes on. When did life get so busy!? Once you all have the same time off, the planning begins and you must ask yourself… “Where in the world are we going!?” Combining everyone’s interests into one family-packed adventure can be a challenge. Take your vacation to new heights with some of these family friendly whitewater trips. While they may not include plunging over a 500 ft. waterfall, you’ll surprised at how much fun you can have:

whitewater rafting trip with group smiling and laughing at the camera as they paddle

H2O Adventures

1. Utah’s Green River

This option is perfect for families that want something a tad more exciting than just a float trip. Desolation Canyon became famous after John Wesley Powell’s historic descent of the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869 and 1871. This nearly untouched canyon is deeper in some places than the Grand Canyon at the Bright Angel Trail, featuring scenic bedrock canyon walls that tower overhead. The canyon is also family friendly, with more than 50 Class II-III rapids which can be navigated via oar raft, inflatable kayak, or paddle raft. Off the water, you can explore Native American ruins, abandoned homesteads, and maybe even the hideout of the infamous Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Jam-packed with plenty of adventure, set sail and enjoy!

watershed drybag next to a man in a sunhat

2. 13-mile Lower Gauley in West Virginia

West Virginia’s Gauley River is one of the East Coast’s most famous whitewater rivers when the dam is released each fall. While the Upper Gauley is famous for its hairy Class V runs, families with less experienced rafters can steer to the 13-mile Lower Gauley, which still provides plenty of Class III and IV rapids.

3. Arkansas River in Colorado

Dry suits on, the Arkansas River is a cold one but well worth the visit! This river combines the scenic beauty of the Arkansas River Valley with the majestic Colorado mountain terrain. This popular river delivers more than 100 miles of whitewater which means there are plenty of guides, trips and locations to take your family on. Opt-in for a camping trip for some extended river fun. The guides make these trips super fun making sure to pack everything you may need from the kitchen set up to bathroom amenities, they have it covered. Choose which section you want to go on depending on age groups and intensity levels!

4. Pigeon River in Hartford, TN

No trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is complete without a rafting trip on the Pigeon River. Trips on both the thrilling Upper, and the easy-going Lower, Pigeon River are always a fun time! Enjoy the exciting class II and III rapids of the popular Upper Pigeon River, or choose a relaxing float trip on the Lower Pigeon. See the Great Smokies from a whole new perspective, on a river that offers something for everyone!

group whitewater rafting with some pine trees in the background

5. Chattooga River in North Georgia

Not looking to freeze your buns off this winter? Head south to the lovely Georgia Mountains for some family fun water adventure! Southern Living called rafting the Chattooga “The #1 Thing Every Southerner Ought to Do.” Perhaps most recognized for its depiction in the film ‘Deliverance’, there are two very distinct whitewater rafting sections on the Chattooga. Take a float or head for some rapids with shorter or longer trips available including lunch and a rest stop to take in the beauty of the landscape.


Don’t forget your trusty Mississippi Drybag for all your family’s water sensitive valuables – such as medications, phones, keys, and snacks! The Chattooga bag is perfect too for day trips on the water.

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