Virginia white water rafting is a thrilling way to spend time when you visit the state during the warmer months. The Natural Bridge, which is located in the Shenandoah Valley, is one of the best places to go rafting in this part of the country, and the Maury and James rivers are excellent as well. The rapids here are typically calmer than what you’d find out west, along the Salmon River in Idaho or Utah’s Green River, which makes them a great destination if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, are new to the sport of rafting, or are traveling with young children who aren’t strong enough to deal with the rougher waters.
The Shenandoah River is probably the most popular spot for Virginia river rafting vacations. A tributary of the Potomac River, the Shenandoah is recommended for families who want to go canoeing, rafting, or kayaking along tranquil waters. With both Class I and Class II rapids along the way, Shenandoah River rafting is suitable for all ages, with the best rafting season being from spring through early fall, when the weather is warm. The South Fork area is one of the calmest places to go paddling and is about a mile from Shenandoah National Park.
One of the best things about Shenandoah River rafting trips is the variety of other attractions in the area. Natural Bridge is the iconic site along the river: a twenty-story, solid rock bridge carved out by the water over thousands of years. There are also historic sites, including Civil War battlegrounds and an authentic Native American village to explore. The hiking and fishing in this area is great as well, so why not turn your Virginia rafting trip into a multi-day excursion and fit in some camping as well.
The James River flows from the Allegheny Mountains into Chesapeake Bay, with its best stretch for rafting between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Richmond Virginia. The most difficult stretch of rapids is a two-mile segment of the river that ends in downtown Richmond; this is the only stretch where the rapids reach Class III difficulty, though they can be upgraded to Class IV if the water is unusually high. If you want to see some of Virginia’s best natural scenery and explore a historic city as well, then a rafting trip on the James River combined with a visit to Richmond is a great combination.
The Maury River is a tributary of the James, going for 40 miles near Chesapeake Bay. The Maury is wide and shallow, and there are Class II, Class III, and Class IV rapids in the upper part of the river. Once you read Jordan’s Point in Lexington, the water is much calmer, with just Class I and Class II rapids to navigate until the Maury meets the James River in the town of Glasgow.
Virginia white water rafting trips are available through outfitters around the state, so whether you’re in Richmond, Roanoke, Fredericksburg, or Purcellville, it’s possible to book a guided rafting trip in Virginia. If you’re interested in other rafting trips in the region, West Virginia is extremely popular for its rafting around Harpers Ferry, and Maryland and North Carolina have trips as well.