Maine has many stretches of whitewater for paddlers, ranging from tight, technical sections to big, boiling rapids on the state’s largest rivers. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned paddler, there are plentiful waterways to plan your rafting trips and resources available to help you find the best whitewater rafting in Maine.
If you’re a beginner, you and your small crew can join a commercial raft led by a professional guide, shepherding you through rapids, pour-overs and holes. There are a number of Maine whitewater rafting companies that can offer you the gear and expertise you need, and some may even offer special packages. From summer rafting camps for kids to guided overnight adventures, there’s something for everyone.
Maine has a long history of commercial river rafting, primarily on its Big Three Rivers – the Dead, Kennebec and Penobscot rivers. The Dead hosts one of the longest segments of continuous whitewater in the East. Depending on how much water is released by the Dead’s hydroelectric dam, the flow can provide either light-hearted play or white-knuckle action.
The Kennebec has long been one of Maine’s most popular rivers for small boat paddlers. Accomplished canoeists and kayakers come to enjoy its muscular, rolling rapids and challenging current. The Forks, the powerful intersection where the Dead River and Kennebec River meet, has created one of the best areas for whitewater rafting in the region. Outfitters like Crab Apple Whitewater Rafting, Northern Outdoors, Magic Falls and Three Rivers offer great experiences on the Kennebec and Dead.
Finally, the Penobscot is renowned as a “technical’ river, boasting whitewater segments with big, complex rapids that require considerable expertise when piloting a kayak or canoe. Maine Kayak, Northeast Whitewater, and New England Outdoor Center all give adventurers the ultimate Penobscot experience. Outfitters offer classes in whitewater kayaking. Beginners practice basics like getting in and out of the boat (without dunking!), learning correct strokes and discovering clues on reading the river. More advanced classes help paddlers learn essential skills and important techniques.
While these outfitters offer quite an adventure, they don’t skimp on relaxation and refueling! Many guides will take a break along the river and cook up a lunch, right in front of your eyes. Alongside the bubbling river and scenic views, your meal may taste even better. Most outfitters also offer big rafts and tubes to rent, so you can float along and rest, carefree.
Although paddlers have a whole state full of water to choose from, Maine’s biggest whitewater rivers offer a uniquely special and memorable experience.