North America is an incredible place, with wonderful landscapes full of remarkable rivers. You can hit the rapids full on, crashing through walls of water, or else take a more leisurely float down a long stretch of river, which will let you gaze upon some truly stunning scenery.

The best rafting trips combine wild action, and some down time. You can enjoy the thrills of plunging rapids, interspersed with slower moments that reveal all the splendor Mother Nature has set out for you. Here are some of the most amazing whitewater rafting trips North America has to offer.

Snake River, Hells Canyon, Idaho

If you’re after a wild ride, you can’t do much better than the Snake River as it passes through Hells Canyon. Hells Canyon, 7,993 feet deep, deserves its scary name. When you choose to travel through this canyon on a raft, you’ll be treated to crazy rapids, steep river plunges, and one 'hell' of an incredible time. In the calmer spots, you can head to shore for a breather, go for a swim, or simply enjoy the beautiful woodlands surrounding you.

American River, California

A trip to Northern California and the Sierra Nevada Mountains will give you the opportunity to raft down one, if not all of the three forks of the American River. This is the ideal place to experience some milder rapids, found on the South Fork, as well as some more challenging flows in the Middle Fork. There are outfitters and guides located at and near the American River who will be more than happy to set you up with the proper gear, and lead you down the water.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Arizona

For those of you who want to embark on a true rafting adventure, you might want to think about booking a multi-day or multi-week trip along the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon. You’ll experience rapids, long floats, and the historical lodgings of Native Americans, not to mention the awe-inspiring beauty of the Grand Canyon itself. If you want to see one of nature’s most astounding marvels, one of the best places to do it is from the water, where you will literarily drift past eons of geological history.

Middle Fork, Salmon River, Idaho

The Salmon River in Idaho is a whitewater enthusiast’s paradise. Class IV rapids and remote forests will accompany you along your descent of this rugged river as it flows past pristine wilderness. The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is truly something to behold. It’s a length of rough and beautiful water, miles away from human civilization. Be sure to hold on to the raft, as the ride can be incredibly bumpy, and incredibly fun.

Arkansas River, Colorado

The Arkansas River provides a great whitewater-rafting excursion for families, as well as for city slickers who only want to sample the splash and spray of the water during the daylight hours. The Arkansas is close to Denver and Colorado Springs, which means you can hit the rapids all day long, and still be back in town in time for dinner at a fancy restaurant at night. The Arkansas River lets you combine the pleasures of an outdoor family vacation, and a city getaway, all into one.

Magpie River,  Quebec, Canada

If you know your business when it comes to whitewater rafting, you might what to head to the remote Magpie Lake and Magpie River in Quebec, Canada. You’ll have to hop on a float plane just to get there, but once you do, you’ll be in for a mind-blowing adventure, full of challenging rapids, river island camping, and river scenery that not a lot of people ever get to see. This is wild rafting at its best, well worth the extra effort it takes to make it to the isolated Magpie River.

Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada

The Fraser River is a breathtakingly beautiful river, located in British Columbia. The rushing water is surrounded by the Canadian Rockies. You can raft through places with names like China Bar, Hell’s Gate, Sailors Bar rapids and Scuzzy Rock, and catch some great vistas of towering Mount Robson as well. There are trips available from one day, all the way up to one week, as well as multi-day trips in between the two extremes. No matter what your previous rafting experience is, you’ll find something to delight you on the Fraser River.

Merced and Tuolumne Rivers, California

The Merced and Tuolumne rivers are situated close to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is famous for its gorgeous scenery. While these two rivers might not be the most violent waterways around, they offer up plenty of class II-IV rapids for lovers of whitewater, not to mention a vivid natural landscape that is second to none. The rafting season begins in March, and runs until September. If you want some big water, the best time to hit the rivers is in the spring.

Klamath River, California

Canyons, rapids and a whole lot of fun await you on the Klamath River in Southern Oregon, and Northern California. If you’re looking for an intense ride, you should scoot down the upper part of the river, around Hells Corner, which boasts class IV+ rapids. If you’re after a more relaxed float, spend your time on the lower part of the river. Either way, you’re sure to get soaked, and have a blast.

Kicking Horse River, British Columbia, Canada

Kicking Horse River runs down from the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia. For those brave enough to dare its turbulent waters, this river serves up some spectacular rafting trips, and whitewater rides. You can get to the river from Calgary, in the neighboring province of Alberta, and then shoot down a variety of rapids, ranging in difficulty. The Kicking Horse River is perfect for families, as well as old hands at whitewater rafting, looking for one more thrill to add to their list.

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