Kentucky rafting is a popular activity that takes place mainly on three rivers: Elkhorn Creek, the Big Sandy River, and the Cumberland River. The best time of the year for white water rafting in Kentucky is during the summer months, when the weather is warm and it’s comfortable to spend hours on the river. Kentucky is sometimes overlooked as a travel destination, but its beautiful scenery and great outdoor activities, such as rafting, make it a wonderful place to visit. The best rafting possibilities are in eastern Kentucky, which means it’s also easy to visit parts of Tennessee, the Appalachians, and the Great Smoky Mountains on your trip.
The three main rivers for white water rafting in Kentucky have varying levels of difficulty. Elkhorn Creek is one of the simple options, as it has Class II and Class III rapids. Located near Lexington, Elkhorn is a great place for beginners and families who want to get out on the river for shorter trips and hone their rafting skills.
Like Elkhorn, the Cumberland River is a good option for beginners. It is an ideal place to go on a lengthy trip, and Cumberland River rafting trips are some of the most popular options in the state. These rapids are also Class II and Class III only. While you can enjoy shorter excursions along the river, the sheer length of the Cumberland makes it a great place to take multi-day rafting trips. It flows for 688 miles through southern Kentucky, northern Tennessee, and western Kentucky, and there are many popular destinations along the river. Keep in mind that different stretches of the river have different names, so you may find yourself booking a trip on the Big South Fork—it’s still a Cumberland rafting trip.
With the highest classifications of rapids, the Big Sandy, especially at Russell Fork, requires much more rafting experience than the other two rivers. It’s best to take a guide, even if you’re an experienced rafter, just to have the knowledge of this part of the river. Big Sandy rafting trips are done near Breaks Interstate Park in Kentucky, along a five-mile canyon known as the Russell Fork, and there are six Class IV through Class V+ rapids along the stretch: Tower Falls, Twist and Turn, Triple Drop, El Horendo, the Maze, and Climax.
While traveling along any one of the waterways of Kentucky, you’ll see plenty of flora and fauna along the shores. Stopping for hiking trips or picnics is an excellent way to stretch your legs and enjoy the lovely scenery of the Bluegrass State. When making reservations for a Kentucky rafting excursion, visitors may consider a number of other activities that may be combined in some of the offered trips, including horseback riding, tours, hiking, and camping.
Whether you head off on a relaxing Cumberland River rafting trip or a challenging run down Big Sandy, whitewater rafting in Kentucky is a great way to spend a vacation outdoors. The state of Kentucky has more attractions than most visitors realize, so plan your own trip and see what you’ve been missing.