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On the Water

Whitewater Kayaking

Two people whitewater kayaking on the Kennebec River.

Two people whitewater kayaking on the Kennebec River.


If you like the thrill of paddling down a narrow river gorge churning with the roar of whitewater, pushing hard through the frothy rapids, splashing down through holes and over drops, and eddying out below, you'll be sure to find the perfect whitewater kayaking adventure on the water in Maine. The state is home to the “Big Three” whitewater rivers—the Penobscot, Kennebec and Dead Rivers—as well as a multitude of smaller rivers, streams and creeks.

The Penobscot River

The Penobscot River offers you 12 miles of Class III-V rapids. The fun begins immediately with the Exterminator Rapid at the head of Ripogenus Gorge. You can paddle down through Staircase Rapid before tackling the multiple challenges of the Cribworks above the calm of Big Eddy. Downriver, in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin, the excitement continues with river-wide, 12-foot falls at Nesowadnehunk and the rapids of Big Ambejackmockamus, Abol and Pockwockamus.

The Kennebec River

Here in the Kennebec Valley you’ll find Class II-IV rapids. Huge waves at Big Mama and Whitewasher lead to an exciting plunge through Magic Falls, the best hit on the river. Kayakers who enjoy playboating (or freestyle kayaking) will find plenty of holes to their liking between the dam at Harris Station and the village of West Forks.

The Dead River

The Dead River offers you 16 miles of nearly continuous whitewater ranging from Class II-V. Your run starts with the mild Spencer Rips, and then progresses to the turbulent waves at Humpty Dumpty and Elephant Rock before finishing up with a bang at Big Poplar Falls. Maine outdoors at its best. Check for Dead River recreational boater releases.

Kayaking in Maine is sure to be an adventure. Numerous river outfitters offer inflatable kayak rentals and equipment, plus whitewater kayaking instruction for beginner to advanced paddlers. You can also take an expertly guided trip that will get you out on the river to experience the best river kayaking the state has to offer at a level that is comfortable for you. Lodging packages include accommodations, meals, instruction, gear and river running.