Some of the most exciting outdoor adventures New England has to offer can be found on the raging rapids of Maine’s mighty rivers. At the center of the white-water fun are the Penobscot, the Kennebec, and the Dead River, each with its own array of gorges, waterfalls, and rapids to navigate. Here, in no particular order, are some of our favorite guided white-water rafting Maine adventures, most offering a range of options to make rafting accessible to all ages and experience levels.
Penobscot Adventures Whitewater Rafting
No surprise that Penobscot Adventures focuses its activities around its namesake river, offering rafting trips ranging from beginner runs to Class 5 challenges (on a scale of 1 to 6). This family-owned company has been introducing visitors to the Penobscot since 2003, and its employees pride themselves on their ability to cater to any skill level. Through a partnership with Big Moose Inn, Cabins, and Campground, a variety of lodging options are available as well.
New England Outdoor Center
The New England Outdoor Center has been voted the top adventure resort by Yankee editors (2013, 2014) for good reason. From the Penobscot Outdoor Center to the Twin Pine Cabins to the River Driver’s Restaurant, this is your one-stop destination for a fantastic Maine vacation. The white-water rafting offerings include daily trips down the Penobscot from April through October. They also run fishing trips and leisurely river floats, so members of the whole family will find something to their liking. Bonus: Most trips include a riverside barbecue lunch, too.
North Country Rivers
Read more: 2 day rafting trips
With two locations (Bingham and Millinocket), North Country Rivers specializes in outdoor adventure trips on both land and water. In addition to white-water rafting, they offer ATV tours, kayaking, wildlife-watching tours, biking, and fishing. Pair these activities with accommodations in one of their tents, RVs, or cabins and a range of dining packages, and your vacation planning will be done almost before you start. North Country Rivers specializes in rafting adventures for a range of skill levels on the Kennebec, Penobscot, and Dead rivers.
Crab Apple Whitewater
This family business has been helping clients brave the rapids since 1983, and though it’s based in Massachusetts, it has a footprint that extends into other New England states as well. Its Maine trips, on the Class 3 and Class 4 Kennebec and Dead rivers, run daily from mid-April through mid-October.
This family-owned rafting company also specializes in performing swift-water rescues, so safety is always top of mind. A typical trip includes 25 to 40 rafters in three to five rafts. The guides double as rustic chefs, serving up hearty outdoors fare (including customer-favorite brownies). Difficulty levels on the Kennebec and Penobscot outings range from beginner to expert, and launch from the company’s lodge and campground at the southern tip of Moosehead Lake. Northeast Whitewater also offers moose-watching trips (on foot or by canoe), waterfall hikes, bird-watching tours, and more.
Magic Falls Rafting Co.
Read more: Richmond raft company
Magic Falls has customized packages aimed at seemingly every situation and skill level, whether you are looking for a bachelor party getaway, a family vacation, or a challenge for your outing club. With small groups and experienced guides, your experience on the Kennebec and Dead rivers can be individualized to meet your wishes. Discount rates are also available for Maine residents or vacationers staying with Magic Falls’ selected lodging partners.
This granddaddy of Maine adventuring has been thrilling visitors since 1976. They do much more than river excursions, but their two base camp locations (one in the Forks and one near Baxter State Park) situate them perfectly for rafting on the big three: the Penobscot, Kennebec, and Dead rivers. The Kennebec rafting trips include passage through the rock-walled upper gorge, an experience you won’t forget. You may want to schedule some extra time to tack on some fly-fishing or moose-watching, or an ATV excursion, too.
Among the more than 30 outdoor adventure trips offered by Northwoods Outfitters are classic white-water rafting experiences on the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers that can be customized to most skill levels. Other offerings include fishing, moose-watching, kayaking, canoeing, and ATV adventures.
Moxie Outdoor Adventures
Read more: Raft acronym
Whether you are an experienced thrill seeker or a timid first-timer, Moxie Outdoor Adventures has an adventure waiting for you. With multiple camp locations, it runs single- and multiday rafting trips on the Kennebec, Dead, and Penobscot rivers; somewhat tamer canoe and kayak outings are also available.
Based in West Forks, Maine, this outfitter started small but has continued to grow. Its creative packages combine rafting with ATV adventuring, hiking, and even skydiving, but full or half-day raft trips on the Penobscot, Kennebec, and Dead rivers are its specialty.
Have you had any white-water rafting Maine adventures? We’d love to hear about it!