Rafting takes advantage of the turbulence and fury of some of the world’s most beautiful rivers to give adventure travelers the thrill of a lifetime. Imagine floating down a majestic river like the Rio Grande, giant cliffs rising up on either side of you. Up ahead, you begin to hear the sound of water racing. Slowly, the raft picks up speed and you and your fellow passengers lift your paddles in nervous anticipation. Before you know it your boat is zooming through chutes of water between rocks and flying up over swells of roaring water, soaking you to the bone as you deftly paddle to the next rise, working with your team to navigate the fierce pull of the river.
This is the excitement of whitewater rafting. This incredible sport has been around for some time, but new advancements in the use of rubber inflatable boats and specialized paddles have brought rafting a long way from its roots. These days, travelers from all over the world take to the rivers to experiences this incredible thrill, which is truly like none other. Some even compare it to a natural rollercoaster! But while it is a very accessible sport for beginners, rafting also requires strength and skill, so adventure travelers looking for a challenge will be highly pleased with the experience.
Another great part about rafting is that often the best rivers are also in some of the most awe-inspiring locations on earth. One of the most popular destinations for rafting adventures in North America is the Colorado River. The Colorado River travels for roughly 265 miles through the bottom of the Grand Canyon, one of the most incredible natural wonders on the planet. With canyon walls as high as a mile in some places, rafting down the Colorado at the base of the canyon is truly a humbling experience, as you get to fight some difficult rapids and see beautiful beaches, waterfalls and cliff formations while you’re at it. Even historian David Halberstam once said, “There are two things every visitor to the United States must do, and two things only. The first is to see Michael Jordan play basketball, and the second is to raft down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.” This experience is something one will remember for a lifetime.
There are rapid and rivers all over the world that are used for rafting, and some are more challenging than others. There is a classification system for rivers that many enthusiasts and rafting organizations employ that grades a river’s turbulence and difficulty. This scale goes from Class 1, being the easiest and least turbulent, to Class 6, representing extreme danger and turbulence. Class 6 rivers are generally only recommended for professionals.
There are also some excellent rivers for rafting with incredible scenery in New Zealand, one of the sport’s biggest destinations. However, there are many river in Europe as well, with one of the best being the Enns River in Austria.
Rafting provides a level of excitement that few other sports can match, and when coupled with the experience of spending a few nights in the outdoors camped alongside the river you’re riding, it can be downright inspiring.