Kayaking isn’t the only way to experience America’s rivers. Find out how you can sign on for awesome adventures like stand-up paddleboarding down the Rio Grande and whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon.
Sure, you can check out some of the country’s best scenery by driving the US highway system, but if you want to get raw, real and personal with America’s most beautiful and iconic landscapes…then there’s no better way to travel than by river.
Your first instinct may be to grab a kayak, a buddy and dry bag, but why not amp up the fun and adrenaline factor by trying out something new—like rafting, stand-up paddleboarding or windsurfing. You’ll experience some of the nation’s most spectacular vantage points—without using a single gallon of gas!
Rafting in the Grand Canyon
Seeing the Grand Canyon from one of it’s rims is a seminal moment in any travel experience—but imagine how much more spectacular the views could be if you were looking up from a raft at the bottom of the canyon!
River adventures don’t get much cooler than rafting down the Colorado, when you’re flowing past the brilliant red and orange rock of the Grand Canyon that rise on either side. Thrill-seekers can sign up for a whitewater trip into rough waters, but even if you’re not quite that adventurous, you can take a guided rafting trip on some of the river’s smooth waters. The Canyon issues permits via a lottery system to allow a limited number of visitors to take their own private trips down the river without a guide.
Kayaking on the Chicago River
Boston, Austin, Pittsburgh and Portland are among many US cities that offer kayaking excursions on rivers within city limits. The best place for a memorable urban river experience might just be the Windy City, where you can paddle through the heart of downtown on the Chicago River and gaze up at some of the country’s most impressive architecture. You can’t find a cooler way to view the Trump Tower, Marina City Towers and Willis (formerly the Sears) Tower.
Stand-up paddle boarding on the Rio Grande
A variation on surfing that originated on the off-season surf breaks of Hawaii, stand-up paddling (SUP) has emerged as one of the hottest new outdoor activities. The reason it’s taken on a life of its own? You don’t need waves or even a strong breeze to get out there and enjoy the water on a board. Where better place to give SUP a try than the Rio Grande, one of America’s most scenic rivers? Tour companies provide instruction for beginners and ease them into the sport on calm portions of the river. Those with previous stand-up paddle boarding experience may want to take on some of the Rio Grande’s more challenging class 2-3 rapids.
Windsurfing and kiteboarding on the Columbia River
Two of the most adventurous water sports are windsurfing and kiteboarding. The former is a combination of sailing and surfing, while the latter incorporates some paragliding elements to the mix. The winds are certainly strong enough in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge to support a regular crowd of windsurfers and kiteboarders who take to the water near the town of Hood River to ride waves, race across the water and perform tricks by harnessing the power of the wind. If you consider yourself an advanced-level water athlete, then you’ll find this destination—and these sports—right up your alley.
Rafting in glacial waters in Alaska’s Nenana River
If plain old whitewater rafting isn’t enough of an adrenalin rush, try rafting in ice-cold rapids while keeping an eye out for grizzly bears and moose. While you can have this experience throughout the state of Alaska, the vast wilderness of Denali National Park and the Nenana River provide your best opportunity for Be sure to dress warm!
While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel, we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences arising from the use of this information. Always conduct your own research and use your best judgment.
Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at quirkytravelguy.com.
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