Looking for a new way to spend your summer? Why not go for a backpacking trip? While backpacking, you can add kayaking to your itinerary. You don’t have to do the extreme kayaking, doing the beginner’s white water kayaking is pretty awesome experience too.
The US is abundant of great easy to intermediate rapids for beginners to try the white water kayaking sport. Here are some of the best rapids to learn white water paddling:
Nantahala River, Western NC
For starters, a great rapid is where there is consistency and predictability. The Nantahala River is perfect for beginners. It is dam-controlled and it is open 350 days every year. The Nanthala Outdoor Center is also around the river too. This is where over 100,000 paddlers including 22 Olympians have trained and took classes. If you are looking for bit more adventurous ride, the river features plenty of class II and III white water.
White Salmon River, OR
If you’re in Portland in the summer, the best place to learn white water paddling is at the White Salmon. The White Salmon is a 44-mile-long tributary of Columbia River. Wet Planet Whitewater offers two-hour pool sessions to multi-day classes which includes one class in two rapids on the White Salmon.
Youghiogheny River, Western PA
According to Kevin Colburn of American Whitewater’s National Stewardship, the Western Pennsylvanian river is the ideal spot to learn to kayak in rapids. The middle of the river is classified as class II and the lower section is a class III so there is a nice progression for newbie paddlers. The River Sport offers classes at different levels.
Clark Fork River, Missoula, MT
This big and wide stretch of white water is ideal for paddling beginners. The river is wide for river running and freestyle paddling, and it is also very safe.Aside from that, the river is quite unique because it is isolated from roads, glacial-fed and dramatic cliffs fill the horizon. For interested paddlers, 10,000 Waves can help them. The shop is also located near a campsite of the Lewis & Clark expedition, so make sure to visit the historic site.
US National Whitewater Center, Charlotte, NC
The NWC is the largest manmade white water channel system in the world. This is where Olympians train but newbies are also welcome here. NWC is a training facility where complete beginners can learn the basics of paddling from world class kayakers. After a tiring session, you can always drop by the water-view bar and order a drink or two from their sixty craft of brews on tap.
Rogue River, Southern OR
Rogue River is where Chris Korbulic learned to ride the white water rapids. Korbulic is widely held as one of the best kayakers in the world, states that the Rogue is a great place to learn especially in the summer. DeReimer Adventure can help kayakers to make a multi-day trips to this beautiful river.
American River, CA
One of the best white water for newbies is the California’s American River. The Current Adventures can book newbies for lessons in kayaking. It is also the best place to meet novices and learn together.
Arkansas River, CO
This 150-mile Arkansas River has a variety of rapids. It has class II to class V. Newbies would surely learn fast will paddling here. The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center will make sure that newbies will learn paddling in the right way. As an added bonus, paddlers can also view the majestic sight of some of Colorado’s tallest peaks while white water rafting.
Tuckasegee River, NC
Running near the Great Smokies, the Tuskegee River features mild rapids around granite domes. An easy spot to learn rafting, many adventurous souls who wish to learn white water kayaking flock the area. While paddling, one can often see herons, eagles, and kingfishers around the area.
Potomac River, MD
The river has a class I to V rapids all within the beltway. The Potomac Paddlesports, can help you find a master paddler to teach you the basics even for a short weeknight class.
Deerfield River, MA
Deerfield features exotic white water passages. The river’s north is for those who likes to do extreme kayaking while the south is where beginner classes are held. Zoar Outdoor outfitter teaches classes and leads guided runs on two rapids of the river.
Salmon River, CA
Unlike most dam-controlled California Rivers, Salmon River is a free-flower. Home to plenty of rapids, it’s a great place to learn. Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School will teach newbies the right techniques to tackle the rapids. The river is also filled with fish from steelhead to rainbow trout to salmon. It is also surrounded by miles of pristine wilderness making your trip a complete experience with nature.