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Maine's Best in Whitewater Rafting

It doesn't take long after you've gotten into a raft to realize this is an exciting fun filled way to spend a day, or more if you opt for an extended trip. The first rapid, Rock Garden, on the Kennebec is just the start of a heart stopping several mile series of rapids that intensifies in its strength and power until you drop over Magic Falls. But that is far from the end of the trip. No, there is still more white water to come along with calm sections where you can get out of the raft and frolic in the river. Better yet, that is just one of the three rivers Rafting Outfitters based in the Jackman Region and Millinocket - Baxter State Park area run.

The last great log drive in Maine, on the Kennebec River in 1975, ended one era and began another. Prior to 1975, there was little recreational use of Maine's wilderness rivers, except for the occasional angler. After that however, a few adventurers began taking passengers down the Kennebec in wooden boats call dories, and the phenomenally popular sport of whitewater rafting began in Maine.

How times have changed. From a few hardy people who thought it was fun to run the rivers, to today, when there is a concentration of whitewater rafting companies in the Jackman-Forks and Millinocket - Baxter State Park areas that run thousands of people during the course of a season. Daily trips are scheduled for the Kennebec, Dead and Penobscot Rivers. And, Maine is the only state in the northeast that can guarantee white water for an extended season - from late April to mid-October, due to dam controlled release.

The 12 mile Kennebec River trip begins on Indian Pond and roars for several miles of up to class IV rapids through the spectacular Upper Kennebec Gorge. The last part of the trip includes smaller rapids and good spots for a swim.

The Dead River provides the longest stretch of continuous whitewater in the East. The 16 mile trip begins at Grand Falls and runs through class IV and V rapids to the confluence of the Kennebec River in The Forks.

There are a limited number of big water releases on the Dead. Sport book up early for this trip. So call the outfitter ahead of time to reserve space. There are several smaller raft releases later in the year.

September is a fantastic time to take a Dead River run. Not only is the water fun, but the foliage is out of this world.

The first two miles of the Penobscot River Trip descend Class V rapids from McKay Station through the breathtaking Ripogenus Gorge ending with a run through the Cribworks. There is little time to practice the moves your guide will instruct you in before hitting Exterminator and the Staircase. The remaining 12 miles of Class III and IV rapids stretches from Big Eddy to Pocwockamus Falls. Although everyone talks about the upper part of the river, there are surprises around every bend. This is an action packed trip from start to finish. Moose and bald eagles are commonly seen feeding on the river with an occasional black bear making an appearance.

Anyone who enjoys the outdoors and is looking for adventure will be delighted by whitewater rafting. People of all ages and athletic abilities, with no previous experience raft the rivers. Minimum suggested age is 12 on the upper Kennebec and eight on the lower section; 15 on the Upper Penobscot and 10 on the lower, and 15 is the minimum age on the Dead River.

Everything you need is provided by the outfitter. Transportation, life jackets (PFDs), helmets and paddles, a pre-trip orientation and safety meeting, and a hearty, open-grill lunch are all included.

A photo.


Kennebec River -- One of Maine's most popular adventures. A full day of awesome whitewater and tranquil beauty invigorates and inspires you. Begin by plunging into the gorge with it's towering canyon walls. The upper section is all action with one standing wave after another. Professional guides will navigate you through infamous rapids like 'Big Mama', 'Whitewash,' and 'Magic Falls.' Most outfitters provide a hearty riverside lunch, after which you will be invited to kick back, float, and relax, or maybe try your hand running the rapids of the lower section in an inflatable kayak. The Kennebec offers class III-V whitewater all season long thanks to a daily average dam release of 5,000 cubic feet per second. (cfs) Spring offers the biggest water and lowest rates. Summer is the most popular season offering warm water and big waves. (Book early as the State of Maine limits the number of passengers, to preserve this wild resource from over use). Fall brings the return of lower rates and brilliant colors. So no matter when you go, this 14 mile river trip offers great rafting for first timers and seasoned paddlers alike. Most outfitters have a minimum suggested age requirement for the gorge of 13 years. Younger participants and those interested in class III whitewater can board the boats below the gorge in time to join the others for lunch.

Dead River -- Rafting the Dead is a unique privilege thanks to scheduled dam releases only selected dates. This exhilarating class III-V run is just plain fun, with16 miles of almost nonstop action including memorable rapids like 'Haydens Landing' and 'Poplar Falls.' Most outfitters feed you a snack beforehand and a hearty lunch at the end of the journey. Again, most outfitters have a minimum suggested age of 15 years for The Dead River.

The Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers offer fun and exciting class 4 releases every day from mid-April through mid-October. In addition, there are special release dates scheduled on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers for 2014 are below:


Dead River Release Dates

  • Saturday, May 3, 2014 - 7000+ CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Saturday, May 10, 2014 - 7000+ CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Sunday, May 25, 2014 (Memorial Day Weekend) - 5500 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 5500 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Saturday, June 7, 2014 - 3500 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Sunday, June 8, 2014 - 2400 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Saturday, July 19, 2014 - 2400 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 2400 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Sunday, August 31, 2014 (Labor Day Weekend) - 5500 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 3500 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Saturday, October 4, 2014 - 6000 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)


Kennebec Turbine Test High Water

  • Saturday, June 14, 2014 - 8000 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Monday, July 7, 2014 - 8000 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Saturday, September 6, 2014 - 8000 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)
  • Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 8000 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second)

Supporting Whitewater Rafting Businesses

  Bishop's Motel - Located in Jackman, Maine 
Bishop's Country Inn Motel is becoming a very popular business choice, offering wireless internet and large in-room tables to work from. All rooms include a full working phone system (cell phone use in this area is very limited), refrigerators, air conditioning, microwaves, coffee makers, irons with ironing boards and remote control color flat screen TV. We try to surpass all your expectations with all the comforts of home as well as knowledgeable, friendly service. Relax in a spacious room that is spotlessly clean. We are centrally located in the town of Jackman within walking distance to three local restuarants.

  Cabins on Moosehead Lake - Moosehead Hills Cabins - Located in Greenville, Maine 
You have a choice of two beautiful lakes when you visit us at Moosehead Hills Cabins. Our log cabins at our home base are nestled on 50 acres of woods and nature trails with waterfront on Moosehead Lake. We also have a new log cabin with its own private dock and waterfront on idyllic Wilson Pond, a 7-mile long lake in Greenville. Each of our log cabins has either two or three bedrooms, a kitchen, a fireplace, and a full bath or whirlpool tub. Enjoy our beautiful sunsets, and the views of the lake and mountains from the deck of your log cabin.

  Crab Apple Whitewater - Located in The Forks, Maine 

    Family owned and operated since 1983, Crab Apple is New England's largest whitewater outfitter with trips in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.
    Maine trips meet at our beautiful base camp along the Kennebec River. Our base lodge includes a restaurant, pub, retail store, game room, heated wetsuit storage and comfortable seating to view digital photos and video from your day on the river. Lodging includes motel style rooms, suites with two person Jacuzzi tubs, cabins sleeping 4-10 and campsites along the Kennebec River. Our grounds include a brand new swimming pool, outdoor hot tubs and a private raft take-out. On each river trip we enjoy a snack on the river and then return to the comfort of our base camp for our delicious river lunch of steak, chicken and salmon.
    Crab Apple offers trips on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers for all ages and ability levels and special pricing for kids 9-15. Specialty trips include funyaks (inflatable kayaks) and "Go For It" rafts which give the most exciting ride on the river. Group pricing is available for groups of 16 or more and for all youth organizations such as scouts, religious youth groups, summer camps, recreation departments and schools.
    Crab Apple also includes Rapid Shot Paintball, the area's only paintball fields. We play half and full days and also "Nightfall Paintball" after raft trips until dark - now that's cool! "Shoot the Rapids" and then challenge your friends at our "Bunker Hill", "Patriot", "Mayday" and "Urban Village" fields.

  Maine Lakeside Cabins - Located in Waterville, Maine 
Maine Lakeside Cabins offers 6 private individual cabins that sleep up to 12 people with full amenities. We offer a unique location for private functions such as weddings and retreats in our beautiful lodge. We offer several activities through our adventure partners including rafting, hiking, and team building.

  North Country Rivers - Located in Bingham, Maine 
North Country Rivers offers Deluxe four season Riverside Log Cabin Rentals in Bingham, Maine. Fully furnished with a Full Kitchen, Bathroom, Private Bedrooms, Living Room, Dining Area, Cable TV, Heat and AC. Recreational opportunities include Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking, Moose Safari's, ATV Trails, Hiking, Biking, Fishing, Hunting, Snowmobiling and much more. All credit cards accepted, call 1-800-348-8871 today to start planning your Maine Outdoor Vacation!

  Northeast Whitewater Lodge & Guide Service - Located in Greenville, Maine 
Where can you find whitewater rapids that will leave you breathless with excitement running through breathtakingly beautiful scenery? The best whitewater rafting in New England is in northern Maine, and the best way to experience Maine whitewater rafting is with Northeast Whitewater. Design your small, personalized whitewater rafting adventure with the registered whitewater rafting guides of Northeast Whitewater on Maine’s Kennebec River and Penobscot River.

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