This section features outfitters that offer the excitement of riding the rivers or shooting the rapids. Whether your vessel is canoe, tube, kayak, or rubber raft, prepare to have some intense fun. And if it's rapids you're after, prepare to get wet!
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Plan for a very full day. Many families and groups spend two or three days, rafting and camping (or moteling). In some cases groups can be dropped off by their own bus at one point and picked up down-river hours or days later. Such a package often nets a discount because the outfitter's vans are not used for transportation.
The Water: The Lehigh and Delaware Rivers dominate these listings, each providing moderate whitewater. Rivers such as the Brandywine, Mullica, and Batsto are narrow waterways with gentle currents that offer relaxation and great exercise paddling about and enjoying the breathtaking scenery. Perfect if you have small children or just want to have a quiet day.
Rivers such as the Hudson and Moose are different stories, particularly in the spring. They offer a challenge to experienced rafters and can be considered dangerous.
Rapids are rated by a standardized system that allows paddlers to get an idea of what they're in for (thanks to Pocono Whitewater Adventures for these ratings):
- Class I: Easy, small regular waves where no maneuvering is necessary.
- Class II: Slightly more difficult with small drops. Maneuvering is still unnecessary.
- Class III: Numerous, irregular waves with drops and holes.
- Class IV: Very difficult with cross-currents, fast water, and large, irregular waves.
- Class V: Extremely difficult with exploding waves, fast and powerful currents, cross- currents, large drops and heavily obstructed river beds.
- Class VI: Ultimate limit of navigability.
- The Lehigh and Delaware both fall within Class II - III. The Hudson, up by Hudson River Gorge is a IV - V, and the Moose is a V+.
The seasons help determine water roughness. Spring thaw provides huge volumes of water that runs very fast. Fall often brings dam releases. During the summer the water can be calm, resulting in substantial discounts from many whitewater outfitters. Perfect for beginners.
More on Whitewater!
Individuals and families can call a day ahead in most cases, though longer is better and may be necessary for spring weekends. Groups must call ahead always. A week would be safe in some cases, but two or even three or more would be better. Deposits are often required, and some outfitters offer discounts when payment is made a week or more in advance. Also, call the day before your trip for a weather forecast.
Most of the places listed have provisions for a picnic lunch, ranging from simple river bank sites to barbecues and restaurants. Inquire when you call.
Most outfitters operate from early April through October. Some offer trips in March by reservation. A few will actually do winter trips.
Wharton State Forest
If your trip takes you here be advised that camping permits are required for overnighters and can be reserved in advance, which is recommended. Call (609) 561-3262. A fire permit is required unless you are using a portable stove. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Check with your outfitter for restrictions or regulations imposed by other state agencies for camping.
The vast majority of outfitters prohibit alcoholic beverages which, considering the nature of the activity, is pretty smart. Check with your outfitter.
Where whitewater is concerned, most outfitters have age restrictions with a general minimum of about 8 years old. On wild rivers like the Hudson or Moose, the minimum age may be 18. But check with your outfitter. Restrictions are often relaxed during the calmer summer months.
Most whitewater trips include a guide -- highly recommended for the novice and almost a must for groups. He or she gives instructions and helps set things right if you take a wrong turn (like upside down). Experienced rafters can benefit from the reduced rates of unguided trips offered by some outfitters.