Maine is home to three big rivers that offer the best in whitewater rafting fun and excitement in the eastern United States. Outfitters on the Penobscot, Kennebec and Dead Rivers offer river trips for adventurers of all ages, from adrenaline-pumping whitewater to gentler family float trips. Trips are led by experienced river guides who provide training in paddling techniques and river safety. No experience is necessary and all river equipment is provided.
River rafters will enjoy an expertly guided trip through the wild rapids in a big ten- person inflatable raft and a delicious riverside lunch of grilled steak, chicken and fish accompanied by salads and cold drinks. Take a short side hike to a scenic waterfall, enjoy a swim, or just relax as you float the calm stretches through an amazing natural landscape.
The Penobscot River flows through Ripogenus Gorge in the shadow of majestic Mount Katahdin and the vast wilderness of Baxter State Park. The thrill begins immediately as your rafting guide leads you through Exterminator Rapids, the Staircase Rapids and Big Heater, then on to the narrow shoots and big drops of the Cribworks. But there’s much more – fourteen miles in all – like Big Ambejackmockamus Rapids, Nesowadnehunk Falls, and Abol and Pockwockamus Falls.
The Kennebec River offers twelve miles of whitewater action, starting at the dam below Harris Station and entering the steep-walled gorge of the Alleyway. Tackle a succession of heart-pounding rapids and waves like Big Mama and Whitewasher before dropping over Magic Falls, the biggest hit on the river. Below there’s Dead Stream and Black Brook Rapids and pretty riverside waterfalls of the same name. Osprey and moose are common along the way, so keep an eye out when you’re not paddling.
The Dead River offers sixteen miles of nearly continuous whitewater, the most in the East! From the put-in just below the beautiful horseshoe of Grand Falls you’ll be on the go with paddle in hand, splashing down through rapids named Humpty Dumpty and Elephant Rock, Minefield and Mile Long. The Dead River saves the biggest and best for last, so hold on for the incredible ride through the watery chaos of Poplar Falls!
The outdoor fun doesn’t end at the river take-out, because in addition to whitewater rafting, many outfitters offer hiking and mountain biking, horseback and ATV riding, rock climbing and wildlife safaris, canoeing and kayaking, fishing and much more. Accommodations at the rivers range from tent and RV camping to cabins and lodges; complete with hearty meals and nighttime entertainment should you choose.
Who can raft?
Anyone who enjoys the outdoors and is looking for adventure can raft. You need not be a fitness fanatic or an Olympic Athlete. Maine rafts typically hold an eight person crew and a guide. To protect the environmental quality of Maine’s rivers, the State limits the number of rafters each day.
What is included?
Outfitters provide transportation to and from their base facility to the rivers, life preservers, helmets and paddles, a pre-trip orientation and safety meeting, a ride down the river and a hearty, open grill meal. Most outfitters provide a slide or video show of your trip down the river at an “a près-trip” party at base camp.
How much does it cost?
Prices for river trips vary based on the month, day of the week and number of people in your party. A one day trip on the Kennebec typically ranges from $80 to $120 per person. A day trip on the Penobscot $90 to $130 per person and on the Dead $90 to $140 per person. Packages including lodging or camping and other wilderness activities are available and each outfitter offers group rates.
When can we go rafting?
The season on the Penobscot and Kennebec begins in late April and ends in mid October. Controlled daily dam releases from hydropower dams on these rivers guarantee water levels throughout the season, even during the driest summers. There are seven high water releases of over 5,000 cfs on the Dead River in the Spring and Fall. Kennebec River Turbine Tests of 8,000 cfs are scheduled four times throughout the season.