Five Great River Trips

Congaree River Blue Trail – South Carolina

Difficulty: Easy Float: Class 1-2
Kid-friendly? Yes
Camping? Yes

Major Attractions:

  • 50 miles of easy paddling through rare forest
  • 20 miles of hiking in Congaree National Park

Winding from urban Columbia into the largest continuous tract of hardwood bottomland forest in the country, the 50-mile Congaree Blue Trail is an accessible river for all ages and skill levels. Youngsters and old-timers alike can enjoy paddling, fishing, watching birds, camping and hiking on the river and in the enormous forest preserves of Congaree National Park to which the Blue Trail connects. Working with local partners, American Rivers in 2007 helped create the Congaree River Blue Trail so that more people would be able to enjoy the river.

 

Rogue River – Oregon

Difficulty: Easy-moderate – Class I-III
Kid-friendly? Yes
Camping? Yes

Major Attractions:

  • Outstanding whitewater rapids
  • Epic scenery
  • World-class fishing

With its jade-green water, misty, spruce-lined river canyons, salmon, bears and bald eagles, the Rogue River is one the most beautiful and mysterious whitewater runs in America. Rapids like Blossom Bar provide enough excitement for whitewater enthusiasts, but not enough danger to make it an unsafe family trip. The Rogue was one of the first Wild and Scenic Rivers in the nation. However, it still faces threats from logging, mining, off road vehicle use, and an escalating climate crisis. American Rivers is working to protect the Rogue River by adding Wild and Scenic designations to some of its important tributaries.

 

Yuba River – California

Difficulty: Challenging — Class IV-V depending on the section
Kid-friendly? Dependent on the activity and/or river stretch
Camping? Yes

Major Attractions:

  • Whitewater
  • Idyllic summer swimming holes
  • Great hiking, fishing, camping
  • Gold Rush history

The Yuba River has something for everyone, from hardcore whitewater rapids for experienced rafters and kayakers, to crystal-clear swimming holes for folks who just want to relax. Although those who plan to brave rapids such as the infamous “Maytag” should go with an outfitter (the rapid presumably feels like being thrown into a washing machine), there is plenty of great hiking, swimming, and fishing for those who prefer to explore the Yuba on their own. Fishing enthusiasts, take note: American Rivers is currently working to protect and restore the Yuba River’s wild salmon run.

 

Upper Delaware River – New York, Pennsylvania

Difficulty: Easy, Class I-II
Kid-friendly? Yes
Camping? Yes

Major Attractions:

  • Relaxed pace through rolling foothills
  • Renowned trout and bass fishing

The longest free-flowing river in the Northeast, the Upper Delaware’s placid pools and eddies provide the perfect setting for a relaxing, self-guided river trip. With plenty of time to float and fish, you’ll have ample opportunity to catch some of the smallmouth bass that landed the river on a top-five list in the U.S. in 2007 by Field and Stream magazine. Sadly, gas drilling recently landed the Upper Delaware on American Rivers’ Most Endangered Rivers list– a call to action to protect this resource for future generations.

 

Niobrara River – Nebraska

Difficulty: Easy, Class I-II
Kid-friendly? Yes
Camping? Yes

Major Attractions:

  • Named one of the best paddling rivers in America by Backpacker magazine
  • Fossil-filled sandstone cliffs
  • Over 200 waterfalls

Beginning in eastern Wyoming and flowing 535 miles to the Missouri river in northeastern Nebraska, the Niobrara River is a natural history buff’s paradise. The river, which is part of the National Scenic River System, passes from forest to prairie through six major ecosystems, treating the canoeist to a stunning variety of plants and wildlife. Over 200 waterfalls cascade from the sandstone cliffs on either side of the river, which contain fossils from creatures as ancient as mastodons, and as far-fetched as rhinoceros and alligators.  Since 2008, American Rivers has worked to preserve and protect the river from dangerous irrigation methods, which threaten to damage the river’s ability to support recreation and wildlife.