Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory
Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting
By Jamie Reger-Vukelich
Chickasaw Bogue: One of the most popular canoe streams in the state. County: Marengo. Length: 38 miles. Location: From headwaters to confluence with Tomigbee River.
Choccolocco Creek: Recreational waterway in proximity to population centers. Counties: Talladega and Calhoun. Length: 45 miles. Location: From U.S. 231/Alabama Hwy. 77 bridge to below the Alabama Hwy. 9 bridge.
Hatchett Creek: Exceptionally scenic canoeing stream. County: Coosa. Length: 39 miles. Location: From Coosa County 29 bridge to northeast of Goodwater.
Little Susitna: Great salmon fishing on class IV waters. Runnable spring, summer and autumn. Length: 67 miles. Location: From Burma Road to Hatcher Pass Bridge. More Information: Dept. of Natural Resources, Div. of Land, Mat-Su Area.
Salta: A pristine waterway, one of the best whitewater rivers in the Southwest, with extremely varied geological formations in the upper portion often referred to as a “mini Grand Canyon.” The segment between the two bridges is a technically challenging waterway, class III to V+ difficulty with early spring runs that flow through scenic desert canyons. The other segment offers opportunities for beginning paddlers. County: Gila. Lengths: 51 and 15 miles. Locations: From U.S. 60 bridge to S.R. 288 bridge and from Mountain Dam to Granite Reef Recreation Center. More information: U.S.F.S., Globe Ranger District, Tonto National Forest, Rt 1, Box 33, Globe, AZ 85501, (928) 402-6200 and White Mountain Game and Fish Dept., Fort Apache Indian Reservation, PO Box 220, White River, AZ 85941, (928)338-4385 for the first segment and U.S.F.S., Mesa Ranger District, PO Box 5800, Mesa, AZ 85211, (480) 610-3300.
American: Popular rafting river, screened principally by dense riparian vegetation, flows through Sacramento metropolitan area and contains a few small rapids. County: Sacramento. Length: 23 miles. Location: From Nimbus Dam to confluence with Sacramento River. More Information: Calif. Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Auburn State Recreation Area, PO Box 3266, Auburn, CA 95604, (530) 585-4527.
Klamath: Excellent fishing and other water-related recreation on one of the longest continuous river runs in the state; California’s second largest river flows through winding canyon in mountainous terrain and through virgin and second growth redwoods. The 100-mile segment from I-5 to Orleans offers whitewater from class I to V+. It is runnable all year. Counties: Del Norte, Humboldt and Siskiyou. Length: 189 miles. Location: From 3,600 feet below Iron Gate Dam to Pacific Ocean. More Information: U.S.F.S., Happy Camp Ranger District, Klamath National Forest, PO Box 377, Happy Camp, CA 96039, (530) 493-2243.
Colorado: River stretches from Lake Granby to the Colorado-Utah state line. The 11 miles through Gore Canyon are runnable in spring and summer; difficulty is class V+, experts only. Nice easy float, class I to II difficulty, in second and third segments which are runnable in spring, summer and fall. The Glenwood Canyon Segment is runnable all year and has a class III to IV difficulty. Counties: Grand, Eagle and Garfield. Lengths: 11, 14, 46 and 10 miles. Location: Gore Canyon; from Pumphouse to State Bridge; from State Bridge to Dotsero; and Glenwood Canyon. More information: BLM-Kremmling Resource Area, 1116 Park Ave., PO Box 68, Kremmling, CO 80459, (970) 724-3000; BLM Glenwood Springs Resource Area, 50629 Hwy. 6 and 24, PO Box 1009, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602, (303)945-2341; and U.S.F.S., Eagle Ranger District, PO Box 720, Eagle, CO 81631, (970) 328-6388.
Salmon, Blackledge and Jeremy: Considered among the three best whitewater streams in Connecticut and the site of a national annual canoe slalom race, waterway flows over an active fault which lies under a series of caves; tremors emanate as noise; and this growling from the earth was first experienced by the Indians.
White Clay Creek and its West and Middle Branches: Waterway system flows in an area, at the edge of urban and suburban developments, that is known for the diversity of its habitats and fauna and flora including the rare and endangered purple fringeless orchid.
White Clay Creek: Counties: Newcastle and Chester. Length: 10 miles. Location: Northern boundary of Newark to confluence with Egypt Run.
West Branch of White Clay Creek: County: Chester. Length: 10 miles. Location: From headwaters to confluence with main branch.
Middle Branch of White Clay Creek: County: Chester. Length: 3 miles. Location: From Route 841 bridge to confluence with West Branch of White Clay Creek. Features and Activities: Scenic, birding, botanical studies and wildlife viewing.
Chattooga: Popularized by the movie Deliverance, undammed mountain river in north-northeastern Georgia is known for spectacular scenery, exciting whitewater and a true wilderness experience. Dropping through narrow, rocky canyons, it offers the steepest and most exciting commercial whitewater in the Southeast. High waters in spring challenge even very experienced paddlers while reduced water levels in summer allow more leisurely trips on the waterway. County: Rabun. Length: 50 miles. Location: from Dick’s Creek Falls to Lake Tugaloo. More Information: Southeastern Expeditions, Inc., 2936-H N. Druid Hills Rd., Atlanta, GA 30329, (404)329-0433.
Ocoee River: One of the most popular whitewater rivers in the United States. A favorite of families and groups, the river provides 5 miles of action-packed continuous class III to Class IV rapids. The area is also the site of the oldest flume-type, hydroelectric project in the United States, and the Ocoee’s flow is dam controlled. Even in the driest months, guaranteed releases of the dam’s waters provide excellent whitewater rafting experiences.
Fox: First two segments are heavily used for fishing and canoeing: latter is one of the state’s better river segments, generally free flowing and quiet with many islands, scenic beauty, high bluffs, well-wooded banks and very good canoeing. Counties: Kane, McHenry, LaSalle and Kendall. Lengths: 6, 32 and 25 miles. Locations: From Elgin to West Dundee Dam, from Algonquin to Wilmot Dam and from Wedron to Yorkville. Features and Activities: Scenic, recreational, geological and fishing.
Vermilion of the Illinois: The best whitewater canoeing in the state on a scenic stream in agriculture land with generally forested banks and numerous bluffs. County: Livingston. Length: 51 miles. Location: From confluence with the Illinois River to Pontiac.
Caney: Excellent seasonal canoeing in a relatively undisturbed woodland-tall grass prairie ecosystem with unusual limestone formations and old trail crossings. Counties: Chautauqua and Elk. Length: 56 miles. Location: From the Kansas-Oklahoma line to its source.
Cass: Easy canoeing on a wide, peaceful slow moving river that arises in the thumb area and flows through a state game area and Sanilac petroglyphs archaeological site. The river corridor is sparsely populated and the home of a variety of wildlife. Ideal for the novice canoeist with small children. Counties: Saginaw and Tuscola. Lengths: 21, 9, 13 and 22 miles. Locations: From Saginaw River to Frankenmuth; from Frankenmuth to Vassar; From Vassar to Caro; and from Caro to headwaters.
Manistique: Outstanding floating in a relatively undisturbed, forested water-shed. Counties: Luce and Schoolcraft. Length: 64 miles. Location: From paper company flowage at Manistique to Manistique Lake.
Cloquet: A river that offers something for the novice canoeist as well as those with intermediate and above skill levels; the segment above Island Lake Reservoir has intermittent class I, II and III rocky rapids that run through deep forest of pine, birch and aspen. Portages have been provided at most of them as well as at the Island Lake dam. This portion is remote from roads and pristine experience that requires back country camping skills. The segment below the reservoir flows through farmland and has some class I rapids; however, low flows from the reservoir might limit its canoeability. County: St. Louis. Length: 70 miles. Location: From Indian Lake near Brimson to the St. Louis River near Brookston.
Colorado: Fishing river with class III to IV waters and hot springs is runnable all year. Permits required; applications accepted March through November. County: Clark. Length: 21 miles. Location: From Hoover Dam to Willow Beach. More Information: Lake Mead National Recreation Area, 601 Nevada Hwy, Boulder City, NV 89005-2426, (702) 293-8907.
Delaware: The 17th longest river in the U.S., it begins at the confluence of its eastern and western branches at Hancock, NY and flows 330.7 miles to Delaware Bay. The waterway acts as a border for the states of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and travels through the Catskill, Pocono and Kittatinny mountain ranges. Fishing in the river is popular as muskie, pike, bass, perch, walleye, blue gill, catfish and trout inhabit the crystal clear waters and American shad return from the Atlantic to spawn in the river usually in mid-April. Heavy rains frequently unearth arrowheads along the shoreline. The river contains 98 islands with a total surface area of 2,900 acres. Wildlife abound along the river and bald eagles are returning in significant numbers. The 10-mile segment from Pond Eddy, NY to Matamoras, PA, at the beginning of the Delaware Water Gap, passes mountain shorelines, through rapids under steep shale cliffs and by the wrinkled, tree-trunk-like stones called the Elephant’s Feet on the Pennsylvania side. An active, eel weir extends across the river below the Elephant’s Feet; paddlers should stay as close to the Pennsylvania shore as possible to avoid the weir. The first whitewater challenge occurs at the double Stairway Rifts; Mongaup Rapids follows with the highest waves and biggest thrills. Longer rapid runs with smaller waves are found at Butlers Rift and the Twin Millrift Rapids. Remnants of the stonework from the Delaware and Hudson Canal can be seen on the New York side. Length: 10 miles. Location: From Pond Eddy, NY, to Matamoras, PA. More Information: Kittatinny Campgrounds, Rt. 97, Box 95, Barryville, NY 12719, (800 ) FLOAT-KC.
Rio Guadalupe: River within Santa Fe National Forest flows through a canyon that is a popular dispersed recreation area for camping, fishing, hunting and hiking. Corridor contains historic railroad tunnels through the spectacular Guadalupe Box Canyon and surrounding mesas contain significant cultural ruins. County: Sandoval. Length: 12 miles. Location: From confluence with Jemez River upstream to confluence with Rio De Las Vacas and Rio Cebolla. Features and Activities: Scenic, recreational, geological, historical and wildlife viewing.
San Francisco: Many hot springs occur in lower reaches and are popular for recreation. Other recreation uses include hiking and fishing. Prehistoric remains are evident in canyon walls, cliffs and caves. The upper reaches are noted for deep canyons with stands of ponderosa pine, juniper, cottonwood, box elder and Arizona sycamore. Counties: Catron, NM, and Apache, AZ. Length: 117 miles. Location: From New Mexico-Arizona state line southwest of Glenwood upstream to Luna Lake near Alpine, Arizona. More Information: U.S.F.S.-Gila National Forest.
West Branch of the Ausable: Adirondack mountain river known for trout fishing plunges 4,000 feet through mountain meadows and lush forests. The rough and tumble mountain river becomes a slow stream with riffles and long, slow pools below the community of Lake Placid. Below Route 86, the pace increases significantly, and the waterway courses over an old dam and through a narrow granite passageway. A few miles below the Wilmington dam, the pace slows again. County: Essex. Length: 35 miles. Location: From headwaters to Lake Champlain.
Ararat: Significant scenic and recreational values. County: Surry. Length: 23 miles. Location: From confluence with Yadkin River to Mount Airy. Features and Activities: Scenic and recreational.
Mayo: Popular, extremely scenic whitewater stream in northern Piedmont Province. County: Rockingham. Length: 16 miles. Location: From confluence with Dan River to Virginia state line. Features and Activities: Scenic, recreational, fishing and wildlife viewing.
South Fork of the New: The oldest river in the U.S. flowing in the same channel before the Appalachian Mountains were formed, offers just enough whitewater to keep skilled beginners happy. Yellow birch and sugar maple line the banks. Paddlers must portage low water bridges. Counties: Allegheny, Ash and Watauga. Length: 89 miles. Location: From confluence to U.S. 421. The lower 26 miles have federal Natural and Scenic River designation. Features and Activities: Scenic, recreational, birding and wildlife viewing.
Grand: A wild and scenic river that represents one of the finest examples of a natural stream to be found anywhere in the state. The scenic upper portion is bordered in many locations by extensive swamp forest inhabited by numerous species of wildlife. The wild lower section flows through steeply incised valleys in Chagrin shale. In spring and summer, waterfalls cascade over these steep bluffs. Counties: Ashtabula and Lake. Lengths: 33 and 23 miles. Location: From U.S. 322 to the Harpersfield Covered Bridge and from the bridge to the Norfolk and Western railroad trestle west of Vrooman Road. More Information: Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Scenic Rivers Program, 1889 Fountain Square Court, Columbus, OH 43224-1331, (614)265-6453.
Illinois: The state’s best known scenic river, cherished for its beauty and noted for its smallmouth bass fishery, has its upper 70 miles designated as a scenic river. Nestled in the Ozark Hills and bordered by oak-hickory forest, it provides challenging water for paddlers. The river originates in the Boston Mountains of northwestern Arkansas and crosses into Oklahoma near the town of Watts where it forms Lake Frances. It flows westward until it meets Flint Creek and then shifts southwesterly toward the city of Tahlequah. Twelve miles below Tahlequah it enters Tenkiller Ferry Reservoir, a Corps of Engineers lake. Below Tenkiller Dam, it flows 13 miles to join the Arkansas River near the town of Gore. Throughout most of its length, the river flows through a wide valley between steep rock bluffs which tower 200 to 400 feet above the river. It tends to meander back and forth across the valley from one bluff line to the other presenting spectacular views of rocky, forested Cookson Hills. The segment below the mouth of Flint Creek features some of the most scenic vistas and tallest rock bluffs in the state. Various channels work their way around islands and large gravel bars which are frequently covered with low brush, sycamore and other trees. The volume and velocity of scenic portions are adequate for extensive public use and in March through May exceed 1,000 cubic feet per second. The state Dept. of Wildlife Conservation operates five public access areas adjacent to the river. Counties: Adair, Cherokee and Delaware. Length: 70.5 miles. Location: From Arkansas-Oklahoma border to Lake Tenkiller. Access Points: Lake Frances spillway; Watts Public Access Area near U.S. 59 bridge; Carnes Ford, a low water bridge seven miles west of Lake Frances; two spots where Flint Creek joins the Illinois; Chewey Bridge, off OK 10 seven miles downstream of the mount of Flint Creek; numerous spots between Chewey and Tahlequah bridges. More information: Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, PO Box 292, Tahlequah, OK 74465-0292.
Clackamas: Recreational boating river with steelhead and salmon fishery provides a variety of whitewater experiences close to Portland. Class I to IV waters; runnable all year. Considerable camping and recreation-related activities along its corridor. Counties: Clackamas and Marion. Length: 53.5 miles. Location: From headwaters in Mount Hood National Forest to slack water at the reservoir created by North Fork Dam. More Information: U.S.F.S. Estacada Ranger District., Mt. Hood National Forest, 2955 N.W. Division, Gresham, OR 97030, (503) 668-0700.
McKenzie: Excellent scenic and fishing river flows through stands of old growth Douglas fir and by hot springs area. Class I to II waters; runnable all year. Salmon and steelhead. Counties: Lane and Linn. Length: 16 miles. Location: From Tamolitch Falls to town of McKenzie Bridge. More Information: U.S.F.S. Willamette National Forest, PO Box 10607, Eugene, OR 97440, (541) 225-6300.
New River and Great Swamp: Coastal marshland stream with a relatively undeveloped corridor area has an abundance of wildlife. Counties: Beaufort and Jasper. Length: 37 miles. Location: From confluence with Claiborne Sound to I-95 Bridge.
Pee Dee: River with numerous oxbow lakes and sandbars and an abundance of wildlife flows through lowland swamps and beneath scenic bluffs. Length: 166 miles. Location: From confluence with Atlantic Ocean to North Carolina state line.
Guadalupe: Heavily used for canoeing, kayaking and tubing, river has two major waterfalls, numerous rapids and views of scenic limestone bluffs. Many spring-fed streams supply the river with a constant flow of quality water. Most paddling and floating is done in the lower portion of the river. Length: 81 miles. Location: From headwaters near Kerrville to Canyon Lake and from Canyon Lake to New Braunfels.
Village and Big Sandy Creeks: Very scenic, eastern river is heavily used by canoeists floating through Big Thicket National Preserve which contains plant and animal species representative of a variety of ecotypes. Counties: Hardin and Polk. Length: 81 miles. Location: From confluence with Neches River to headwaters.
Colorado: Large river flows through deep red sandstone canyons; Cataract Canyon in the national park is a high quality whitewater boating area. The class II to IV waters are runnable spring, summer and fall. All boaters need a permit. Counties: San Juan, Wayne and Garfield. Length: 62 miles. Location: From San Juan-Grand county line to the southern boundary of Canyonlands National Park. More Information: N.P.S.-Canyonlands National Park, 125 West 200 South, Moab, UT 84532, (435)719-2313.
North Fork of the Shenandoah River and Cedar Creek: One of the most popular whitewater streams in the region. Numerous historic and battle sites along the valley of the North Fork which was the primary valley and corridor for settlement throughout the colonial period. Belle Grove Mansion is also along the segment. The North Fork section has been classified as one of the most meandering of U.S. rivers; seven major loops in which the river reverses its direction. Counties: Shenandoah and Frederick. Lengths: 39 and 25 miles. Location: From Rt. 648 at Strasburg to Edinburg and from Rt. 622 bridge to headwaters.
Chiwawa: Kayaking, canoeing, rafting and fishing on a mountain stream fed from Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. Waterway flows through mixed terrain of moderately steep valleys and wilder meadows. The 14-mile section from Huckleberry Ford to the Wenatchee River has class II to III waters and is runnable in late April to mid-July. County: Chelan. Length: 30 miles. Location: From headwaters southeast of Fortress Mountain to confluence with Wenatchee River. More Information: U.S.F.S.-Lake Wenatchee Ranger District, Wanatchee National Forest, 22976 Hwy. 207, Leavenworth, WA 98826, (509) 763-3103.
Hoh: Canoeing and rafting on a fast river with superb scenic values. Considerably braided, glacier-fed coastal river begins in Olympic National Park and flows through a highly diverse landscape that includes rare rain forest. County: Jefferson. Length: 55 miles. Location: From headwaters to mouth. More Information: Washington State Scenic Rivers Program, Po Box 42668, Olympia, WA 98504-2668, (360) 902-8631.
Grand River: Recently designated a Canadian Heritage River, the Grand is excellent for canoeing from Elora downstream to Port Maitland on Lake Erie. There are minor portages around old mill dams. The Grand is excellent for fishing and the river is suitable for novices during the summer months. A canoeing guidebook, containing detailed maps and listing Access Points, portages, riverside campgrounds and local outfitters, is available by phoning (519) 621-2761. Length: 100 miles (170 km). Location: Off Hwy. 401 in the triangle midway between Toronto, Buffalo and Detroit.
Kayaking is one of the best ways to experience and enjoy the coastal areas of Baja. Kayakers will enjoy exploring caves, coves, inlets and beaches that are otherwise inaccessible to boats or vehicles. The Sea of Cortez is a world-class kayaking area and is an excellent place to learn sea-kayaking skills, since the waters are usually calm.
Between Mulege and Loreto are the most popular kayaking areas, as well as between Puerto Escondido and La Paz. Various kayaking trips may be arranged through local outfitters to cover anywhere from 5 to 200 miles. Bahia de los Angeles is protected by Isla Angel de la Guarda and is a favorite with novices.