California is normally the America's capital of whitewater rafting, with massive Sierra snowfalls feeding dozens of cascading, granite-lined mountain rivers. Unfortunately the Golden State has been wrung out by one of the worst droughts on record. For rafters, kayakers, and stand-up paddlers that means it's time to look elsewhere. Luckily, America is teeming with waters ripe for everything from lazy paddles to aggressive runs.
Here are six non-Californian streams that will be flush with whitewater this spring and summer.
New River, West Virginia
The Lower New courses 17 miles through an 800-foot gorge and sports the biggest commercially run whitewater east of the Rockies. May and June feature the biggest flows when the river rates a solid Class IV-V, but Brian Campbell of outfitter Adventures on the Gorge actually prefers the slightly lower flows of mid-summer, when the river drops to Class III-IV. "At lower levels you can charge through the biggest hits on the river, which you have to avoid in May for safety," he says. "Its more fun." In addition to half-day raft trips, the company also offers one- to five-day kayak clinics that start on a lake and graduate to the milder Upper New. Campbell says that the Appalachian’s cold, wet winter should ensure strong flows this summer.
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