Canada’s Best Whitewater Rafting Destinations

Hop in a raft and get wet and wild in one of Canada’s best raging rivers this spring:

Credit: Destination BC/Albert Normandin

Hop in a raft and get wet and wild in one of Canada’s best raging rivers this spring. 

Kicking Horse River, British Columbia

The Kicking Horse River runs through the Rockies in southern British Columbia and as one would expect from a mountain river, it has some amazing whitewater. While the 14 sets of rapids are rated Class III to IV, there are plenty of tour guides in the area who are willing to throw beginners into the mix (safely of course). Tour operators such as Alpine Rafting, Glacier Raft Company and Kootenay River Runners teach newbie rafters how to stay on the raft and provide all the necessary equipment.

Slave River, Northwest Territories

Slave River in the Northwest Territories has four sets of rapids in a 25-kilometre stretch, between Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald. The river flows strongly through the Cassette, Pelican, Rapids of the Drowned and Mountain Rapids. These rapids are rated at Class I to IV, with the Cassette rapids being the easiest, near Fort Fitzgerald, and the ominous Rapids of the Drowned being the most difficult, near Fort Smith. These rapids, with their huge volume and massive waves, are considered to be some of the best in the world. Those planning a trip should also know that since the Slave is home to Canada’s northernmost colony of pelicans, a protected species, some areas are closed off from April to September for mating season.

Magpie River, Newfoundland & Labrador

The Magpie River starts on the Labrador Plateau and flows for hundreds of kilometres before dumping into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Rafting the Magpie is as much as a sightseeing tour as it is a whitewater rafting experience. With class-four canyons and waterfalls as well as miles of calm river weaving pine forests, the trip in between sets of rapids is wonderfully peaceful. The rapids themselves are rated Class I to II so it is a perfect place for beginners. Tour operators, like Esprit Rafting Adventures, run multi-day adventures down the Magpie.

Kipawa River, Quebec

The Kipawa River is a 16-km expanse that runs between Lake Kipawa and Lake Temiscaming, QC. It is considered some of the best intermediate (Class II to III) rafting in Eastern Canada, which includes 18 named rapids and a huge 90-metre waterfall. Whitewater enthusiasts should take advantage of these rapids before they potentially disappear, as there have been several proposals for a Hydro-Quebec dam on the river. For tours down this powerful river, guests should contact the Esprit Rafting Adventures (unless you are ready to tackle them on their own).

Fraser River, British Columbia

As the longest river in British Columbia, it is also one of the most popular for whitewater rafters. With rapids that approach the Class III (and above), there is challenge for even the more skilled rafters. With the great views and some less challenging rapids in some areas, this is a good place for beginners to learn with tour operators such as Mount Robson Whitewater Rafting, Hyak Wilderness Adventures and REO Rafting. Each can cater to any rafter’s particular skill level by finding the appropriate stretch of water for them to explore.

Ottawa River, Ontario & Quebec

While the Ottawa River is 1,400 km in length, its whitewater region near Ottawa River Provincial Park is perhaps the most popular whitewater rafting destination in Canada. However, its 12 km of rapids are not for beginners. Ranked Class III to IV, these rapids provide challenging fun for those that know their way around a paddle. For those unsure of themselves on these high volume rapids, many tour operators are willing to guide your adventure. These operators include Esprit Rafting Adventures, River Rafters and Wilderness Tours.

Shubenacadie River, Nova Scotia

Rafting the Shubenacadie River doesn’t seem like much at first. It’s all muddy water, flats and sand bars. However, when rafters get to the mouth of the river, the fun begins. Rafting the Shubenacadie isn’t so much river rafting as it is tidal bore rafting. When the tide comes in from the Bay of Fundy, on a good day, rafters will be staring at waves as high as five metres. For those unsure about Tidal Bore rafting, local companies like Shubenacadie River Adventure Tours and Shubenacadie River Runners are more than happy to help.