Maine is home to three big rivers—the Penobscot, Kennebec and Dead Rivers—that offer whitewater rafting trips for adventurers of all ages. Experienced river guides lead the trips, and they provide training in paddling techniques and river safety. No experience is necessary and all river equipment is provided.
The Penobscot River
The Penobscot River flows through Ripogenus Gorge in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin and the 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—14 miles in all—including Big Ambejackmockamus Rapids, Nesowadnehunk Falls, and Abol and Pockwockamus Falls.
The Kennebec River
The Kennebec River offers 12 miles of whitewater action, starting at the dam below Harris Station and entering the steep-walled gorge of the Alleyway. You'll tackle a succession of big rapids and waves such as Big Mama and Whitewasher before dropping over Magic Falls, the biggest hit on the river. Below, you'll continue on through Dead Stream and Black Brook Rapids as well as riverside waterfalls of the same name. When you're not paddling, you can watch for moose and osprey.
The Dead River
The Dead River offers 16 miles of nearly continuous whitewater—the most in the East. From the put-in just below the horseshoe of Grand Falls you’ll be splashing down through rapids named Humpty Dumpty, Elephant Rock, Minefield and Mile Long before hitting the biggest rapids at Poplar Falls.
Who can raft?
Anyone who enjoys the outdoors and is looking for adventure can raft. 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 slideshow or video of your trip at an “apres-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 typically ranges from $90 to $130 per person and on the Dead from $90 to $140 per person. Packages are available that include lodging or camping and other wilderness activities 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. The Dead River has seven high-water releases of more than 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the spring and fall. Kennebec River Turbine Tests of 8,000 cfs are scheduled four times throughout the season.