Whitewater Wishlist: The Top Ten Whitewater Rafting Trips

The Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho and Grand Canyon's Colorado River
  |  Gorp.com

The Middle Fork of the Salmon, Idaho
From the Boundary Creek put-in to its confluence with the Main Salmon a hundred miles away, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River offers some of the United State's most remote whitewater outside of Alaska. The river threads its way through the 2.7-million-acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness—the largest roadless tract of land in the continental United States—culminating with the infamous Impassable Canyon, named by Lewis and Clark when they passed through the area in the early 1800s. The same Class III-IV rapids they deemed impassable, however, now draw river runners in droves. The best thing about the Middle Fork, of course, isn't its solitude or raft-soaking rapids. It's the nine riverside hot springs scattered throughout the trip that calm you—and make you look like a well-ripened prune—after a full day of paddling.

The Colorado, Grand Canyon, Arizona
When John Wesley Powell first ran the Grand Canyon in 1869, few realized the rapids that caused him such consternation would make it one of the world's top whitewater runs a scant century later. Rapids such as Crystal and Lava Falls are topped only by the canyon's beauty as the Colorado River carves its way through time. To do the whole 280 miles takes anywhere from 10 to 23 days, depending on whether or not you have motor support. And if you go with an outfitter, you're guaranteed gourmet fare that is a far cry from the salted pork and flour rations of Powell's rafting days.


Eugene Buchanan lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where he has worked as editor and publisher of Paddler magazine since 1992. He is an accomplished freelance writer whose credits include The New York Times and Men's Journal, Outside, Powder, Ski, and Sports Afield magazines.

Published: 20 Jun 2001 | Last Updated: 3 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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