Record-setting snowfall in California has set the stage for an exceptional whitewater rafting season this year. But even the Rocky Mountains have received above average snowfall this year. “The snowpack overall in Colorado is 140% of average, so the industry expects fantastic rafting conditions all summer,” said Andy Neinas, who owns and operates Echo Canyon River Expeditions in Cañon City, Colorado.
“This year’s tubing and rafting season is likely to be extended not only as a result of record snowfall, but efforts by water agencies to limit discharges from lakes and reservoirs in an effort to extend opportunities for rafting and other water recreation opportunities,” said Dyana Kelley of Camp-California.com, the statewide travel planning website for camping enthusiasts.
All of this is good news for RVers who would like to go river tubing or whitewater rafting Out West. There’s also no shortage of river running opportunities elsewhere in the country, either, as Mother Nature blesses America’s rivers and streams with exceptional flows this year.
Below is information on river tubing and whitewater rafting opportunities on some of the more popular rivers across the country, going from West to East, along with links to river outfitters and nearby campgrounds:
CaliforniaWhitewater.com lists more than 40 companies that offer a wide variety of rafting tours in more than a dozen rivers across California. Here’s a listing of several freshwater river recreation areas across California that are suitable for whitewater rafting or river tubing, along with suggestions on great places to camp:
The South Fork of the American River: This is one of the most reliable whitewater rafting rivers in California, thanks to carefully timed releases of water from an upstream dam. Popular campgrounds near the South Fork of the American River include Camp Lotusand Thousand Trails Ponderosa in Lotus and Coloma Resort in Coloma.
The Kaweah River: This Southern Sierra river is entirely dependent on snowmelt, so its flows will be strongest in April and May. Popular campgrounds near the Kaweah River include Autocamp Sequoia; Sequoia RV Ranch; and Three Rivers Hideaway in Three Rivers.
The Kern River: The Kern River is divided into sections. The upper Kern River above Lake Isabella flows naturally. But flow rates in the lower Kern River are controlled by a dam. Camp-California.com lists 10 campgrounds near the Kern River, including Frandy Park Campground; Camp Kernville, Kern River's Edge Campground and Limestone Campground, all of which are in Kernville.
The Lower Klamath River: A small number of outfitters provide tours along the secluded Lower Klamath River in extreme northwest California. Nearby campgrounds include Curly Jack Campground.
The Russian River: This river runs year round, but is especially popular with river tubing enthusiasts during the summer months. Nearby campgrounds include Casini Ranch Family Campground in Duncans Mills.
The Truckee River: Several rafting outfitters offer family friendly float trips along the Truckee River from Tahoe City to Alpine Meadows. Campgrounds in the area include Coachland RV Resort in Truckee.
Rogue River: Outfitters include Northwest Rafting Co. in Hood River, Rogue Rafting Co. in Gold Hill. Nearby campgrounds include Gardens Inn The Woods in Merlin and the Medford / Gold Hill KOA Journey in Central Point.
The Colorado River near and through the Grand Canyon: Several companies offer guided rafting tours on the Colorado River near or through the Grand Canyon Canyon, including Grand Canyon Whitewater, Hualapai River Runners, and Wilderness River Adventures. There are campgrounds near the launch points for some of these tours, including Page Lake Powell Campground in Page and Lees Ferry Campground. Additionally, the National Park Service has a web page with links to companies that offer detailed information on river rafting on the the Colorado River inside Grand Canyon National Park, including procedures on how to obtain permits to raft the river without a guide.
The Animas River near Durango: Outfitters include Durango Rafting, Durango River Trippers and Southwest Raft and Jeep, all of which are headquartered in Durango. Nearby campgrounds include Oasis Durango RV Resort and Westerly RV Park, both in Durango.
The Arkansas River through Royal Gorge: Echo Canyon River Expeditions offers guided whitewater rafting trips on the Arkansas River through Royal Gorge as well as calmer rafting trips suitable for families through Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Nearby campgrounds include Mountain View RV Resort and the Royal Gorge Cañon City KOA Holiday in Cañon City.
The Shoshone River just east of Yellowstone National Park: Outfitters that feature whitewater trips on the Shoshone River include Wyoming River Trips and River Runners of Wyoming, both headquartered in Cody. Nearby campgrounds include Cody KOA Holiday and Ponderosa Campground, both in Cody.
The Snake River near Grand Teton National Park: Several rafting companies offer tours down the Snake River, including Barker Ewing Whitewater and Lewis & Clark River Expeditions, both in Jackson, and Snake River Park and Teton Whitewater, both in Jackson Hole. Nearby campgrounds include Snake River Cabins & RV Village in Jackson and
Alpine Valley RV Resort in Alpine.
The New and Gauley Rivers: Adventures on the Gorge is an adventure resort that offers whitewater rafting on the New River, near New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, and the Gauley River, which flows through Gauley River National Recreation Area. The resort offers a variety of RV sites, tent sites and glamping tents in addition to an array of cabin accommodations.
The Shenandoah River: Shenandoah River Outfitters in Luray offers rafting tours along the Shenandoah River. Nearby campgrounds include Spacious Skies Shenandoah Views.