White-water rafting opportunities can range from lighthearted, family-friendly fun to death-defying adventure. But no matter the intensity, nice weather and stunning scenery guarantee a good time. Leisurely rapids are categorized as Grade I and require little-to-no maneuvering, while rapids classified at Grade VI are deemed impossible to navigate—pick your level of challenge.
Lewis and Clark tried and failed to navigate the turbulent rapids of Snake River, which is home to the deepest gorge in North America. The steep mountain façade is strikingly beautiful, adding an element of intensity to the intermediate river with mostly Grade I-III rapids.
STAY: Amangani, Jackson Hole’s most luxurious resort, can arrange rafting trips for all ages.
Middle Fork, Salmon River, Idaho
With mostly Grade III and IV rapids, the Salmon River is fun for novices and seasoned experts, while also being one of the world’s most popular white-water destinations. Coupled with gorgeous mountain views and the chance to spot wildlife on the banks of the river, kids and parents alike can enjoy a one-day excursions or weeklong trips.
STAY: The Sun Valley Inn is the town’s grand dame property, a little over an hour drive away from the river. Contact our bookings team to arrange a rafting trip.
On a trip down the Zambezi, expect to get wet. The challenging 23-rapid course (almost half of which are Grade V) begins in the wake of the stunning Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. With nearly certain chances of capsizing many times, and the threat of small crocodiles looming just below the surface, this rafting experience is thrilling and unforgettable.
STAY: Victoria Falls Hotel (2 Mallet Drive; 263 13 44751; www.victoria-falls-hotels.net) or David Livingstone Safari Lodge & Spa (Riverside Drive; 27 31 310 6900; www.thedavidlivingstone.com). Contact our bookings team to arrange a rafting trip.
Futaleufú River, Chile
Be warned, Futaleufú is for wilderness-loving, adrenaline-junkies only. The wild river has mostly Grade V rapids, but the area is pure and undeveloped, lacking any and all luxury accommodations. Contact our bookings team for weeklong tours along the tempestuous river, where lodgings are Spartan; one of the rafting camps is built into cliff dwellings, with a natural, river-carved hot tub overlooking the most famous rapid. Another features a procession of tree houses perched among the trees. The accommodations are quite rugged, but the remote scenery is breathtaking.
STAY: Contact our bookings team to arrange a rafting trip.
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