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Maine has many stretches of whitewater for paddlers, ranging from tight, technical sections to big, boiling rapids on the state’s largest rivers. So how challenged to do you want to be?
If you’re a newbie, whitewater rafting is a good place to start. Maine has a long history of commercial river rafting, primarily on its Big Three – the Dead, Kennebecand Penobscot rivers. A commercial raft will take you and the rest of your small crew through rapids, pour-overs and holes, all while being shepherded by a professional guide.
Maine has a number of skilled white-water outfitters, including long-time veterans and newer companies. Some include: Adventure Bound; Crab Apple Whitewater; Magic Falls Rafting Company; Moxie Outdoor Adventures; New England Outdoor Center; Northeast Whitewater; North Country Rivers; Northern Outdoors; Penobscot Adventures; Three Rivers Whitewater; and US Rafting.
Want to go out on your own? Maine outfitters including Maine Kayak and Northeast Whitewater offer classes in whitewater kayaking. Beginners practice basics like getting in and out of the boat (without a dunking!), learn correct strokes and discover clues on reading the river. More advanced classes help paddlers learn the Eskimo roll – an essential skill – and other important techniques.
Although advanced paddlers have a whole state full of water to choose from, many stick with Maine’s biggest whitewater 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 Maine’s most popular rivers for small boat paddlers. Accomplished canoeists and kayakers come to enjoy its muscular, rolling rapids and challenging current.
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.