Best White Water Kayaking

Gauley River Kayaking - West Virginia - Considered one of the top 10 whitewater rivers in the world, the Gauley River is West Virginia's legendary run. Each fall, Summersville Dam opens wide to unleash this "Beast of the East." Over 22 days of high adventure and fun, thousands of gallons of water per second begin their roaring, pounding journey to the sea... dropping 650 feet over 26 miles, thundering and frothing over thousands of boulders, and creating steep drops, massive holes, and colossal waves. Technically demanding, the Gauley offers more than 100 major rapids, 56 of them Class III-V+. So, grab a paddle and a guide, because this is Gauley Season, and to you it means unmatched and unforgettable excitement.

The Upper Yough  Sand Run, Maryland - Are you ready for one of the crown jewels of East Coast whitewater? This Class IV-V river is truly a classic. Dropping and tumbling down through the hills and mountains of Western Maryland, this run is more like running a steep creek than running a river. Fast paced and action packed you have to be on your toes, ready to paddle hard and precisely following the commands of your expert guide, or you could very easily end up swimming in the middle of a Class V rapid. Remember you need to be 18 or older, as well as have had prior whitewater experience to go on this run.


Salmon River Kayaking -  Idaho - The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is White Water  paradise! More than 100 rapids span this 105 mile stretch of scenic beauty for an unforgetable white water expericence. This free-flowing river drops 3000 feet through the remote and spectacular River of No Return Wilderness.

South Fork American River - California - The South Fork of the American River is a great all-around stretch for private boaters of all levels. Novices will find the 3-mile, Class II "Coloma to Lotus" stretch to be an ideal introduction to whitewater. Intermediate boaters enjoy the increased challenge of the Class III "Chili Bar" and "Gorge" runs, and the expert kayakers spend hours perfecting their rodeo moves in the world-famous Chili Bar Hole and other play spots.

Kayaking on the Chattooga River - GA, SC, NC Boarders - The Chattooga begins at the Whitesides Mountain in North Carolina and flows in a southwesterly direction to form the border between South Carolina and Georgia.  One of the wildest and most beautiful whitewater rivers in the America, the Chattooga was the first river in the Southeast to be designated "Wild & Scenic" by Congress and was used as a location for the movie Deliverance

Rogue River, Oregon - Cutting across the Coast Range and the Siskiyou National Forest, the Wild and Scenic Rogue River begins near Crater Lake in the Cascade Mountains and splashes its way to the Pacific Ocean. The Siskiyou National Forest manages the Wild Section of the Rogue, 35 miles of whitewater racing through the Wild Rogue Wilderness Area.


Russell Fork River, Kentucky - This River meets near Breaks Interstate Park, close to Elkhorn City, KY, but the real action starts at Flanagan Dam where the river literally roars out of the mountain side - a spectacular start! The first part of the trip is slower - allowing paddlers time to admire the views within the 1000 foot gorge formed by the river. Don't get too distracted because the Class III and IV rapids downstream include pushy water, steep drops and narrow passages (all classic Russell Fork attributes). The take-out is at Garden Hole - an adventure in itself.

Westwater Canyon, Colorado River - Ask anyone who has run Westwater Canyon and you're likely to hear comparisons with the Grand Canyon due to its geological similarities and challenging class III and IV rapids. Like the Grand Canyon, Westwater combines the excitement of whitewater with the serenity of calm water sections that feature towering walls and winding side canyons. Rapids such as Funnel Falls, Skull, Sock-It-To-Me and Last Chance await you. And so do Great Blue Heron, bald eagles and river otter.

Nolichucky River, Erwin, TN - The Nolichucky is in an incredibly beautiful, deep, mountain gorge that offers lots of great play, especially within the first few miles. The Noli's punch is at the beginning, then it mellows out to a mostly class III run allowing ample opportunity to enjoy the scenery. The gorge is remote with the only opportunity to walk out by a railroad track that parallels the river.

Ocoee River, Tennessee -
Site of the 1996 Olympic kayak events. The river flows through a deep gorge in the beautiful Cherokee National Forest in southeast Tennessee. Here you'll encounter exciting class III and IV white water rapids with spectacular mountain scenery.

Great Site for finding river information
American Whitewater

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This listing of the best white water kayaking in the United States is constantly being revised as we experience and learn new things about different kayaking areas. America's Best would like to thank all the kayakers for thier input. This list would not have been made without them. So, if you feel we are missing one, please email us and let us know!