There’s one Adirondack pastime that requires more guts than any other: whitewater rafting on the Hudson River. Rafting companies proudly share their life’s passion with those daring souls who seek heart-stopping adventure on the river. Revel in the icy clear water flowing from the heart of the Adirondack wilderness. Board an inflatable boat and paddle hard through angry rapids, dodging boulders and striving to not fall into the jaws of the river. Heed the commands screamed by your guide as your group attempts to conquer the turbulent waters. Hear half-true tales of epic days on the river and overnight camps in the forest. Rafting on the Upper Hudson River Gorge is the most intoxicating adventure in the Lake George Area.
Beginning in April and running through October, rafting on the Upper Hudson River Gorge is an absolute thrill. With waters ranging from Class III through Class V rapids, the river’s diverse rapids provide for an all-encompassing rafting experience. The water is highest in April and May when snowmelt fills the river. As summer turns into fall and the water levels fall the rapids mellow out, turning the river into an almost relaxing Class III paradise.
There are several rafting services that will take you through the Upper Hudson River Gorge. These expert companies have decades of Hudson River experience and are committed to providing a safe and exhilarating venture. It doesn’t matter which company you choose to raft with – every outfit will help you master the mighty Hudson with confidence.
Companies on the Upper Hudson River Gorge
Our first Lake George Area rafting company is Adirondack Adventures, based in North River. Adirondack Adventures offers several different rafting trips around the state and their 3-4 hours Upper Hudson River Gorge trip is a thrilling favorite. A huge part of the fun at Adirondack Adventures is the bus ride to the river. Tunes are blared all the way to the put-in to make sure you’re pumped up for a day on the water. A bus ride to the put-in means you raft back to your car – no bus ride in wet clothes! Since whitewater rafting is a drain on energy, Adirondack Adventures provides a hearty lunch from Izzy’s Deli & Market in North Creek. And Adirondack Adventures offer a Swiss army knife of other activities such as overnight rafting trips, kayak instruction, and whitewater tubing if you’re interested.
Adirondack River Outfitters, also based in North River, is the next Lake George Area rafting company on our list. ARO run rivers all around New York, and their 17-mile trip on the Hudson River Gorge is always popular. With 35 years of rafting experience, Adirondack River Outfitters are true experts. If their guide’s commitment to safety doesn’t convince you, their river stories will. While these stories aren’t always completely rooted in reality, they do help to flesh out a day on the river. Also, don’t skip out on the post-raft chicken barbecue, where you and your new friends can listen to some more tales from the water. Adirondack River Outfitters also have zip lines, an aerial adventure course, and paintball at their home base in North River.
Third on the list is Beaver Brook Outfitters, based out of North Creek. Beaver Brook Outfitters host a number of different rafting trips on the Hudson River Gorge ranging from their 17-mile day trip to an overnight raft and camp. The day trip is the usual 17-mile run down the Hudson, replete with fantastic scenery, plenty of stories and laughs, raging or relaxing water depending on the season, and a fantastic lunch and dinner. Overnight trips on the Hudson feature those same stories, laughs, and meals as well as a peaceful night in the Adirondack woods. Beaver Brook also hosts canoeing and kayaking tours, caving expeditions, and guided fly fishing trips. Beaver Brook boasts that they are the only company on the Hudson to provide lunch, dinner, and all required equipment on every single day of the season.
The next rafting outfit on our list is Square Eddy Expeditions. Based out of North Creek, Square Eddy Expeditions offers yet another run down the Hudson River Gorge, albeit from a different town than the previous three companies. Their 17-mile adventure includes a robust and organic homemade lunch on the river, all required equipment, and an experienced guide to share safety instructions, river stories, history, and maybe even a song or two. In addition to their Hudson River Gorge run, Square Eddy Expeditions guide a unique hike-and-raft expedition. This adventure begins with an intermediate hike to one of New York’s tallest waterfalls, OK Slip Falls in Indian Lake. After hanging out above the waterfall, rafters follow the trail to the Hudson River and travel it back to North Creek.
The fifth rafting company on our Hudson River list is North Creek Rafting Company. Based out of North Creek, they offer two trips on the Hudson River Gorge. Their full day Upper Hudson trip is the typical 17-mile run down a mix of furious and calm waters. The rapids range from Class III-IV, and there’s a fresh lunch thrown into the middle. They also feature a nine-mile Lower Hudson trip from Riparius to Thurman. The trip on the Lower Hudson runs from April-June and is still relatively steep and always a ton of fun. North Creek Rafting Company also specializes in overnight rafting trips. You can raft and camp on the Hudson for two, three, or four nights, traveling a total of 17-29 miles.
Whitewater Challengers is yet another rafting company on the Hudson out of North River. Their fifteen-mile trip on the Upper Hudson takes about eight hours and includes on-the-river snacks and complimentary wetsuits. They also host an overnight trip on the Upper Hudson. The overnight trips include lunch, dinner, camping, and breakfast all on the river. In addition to crushing the Hudson River, Whitewater Challengers also have an aerial zip line and ropes course as well as a paintball course.
Last but certainly not least on our list of Hudson River Gorge whitewater rafting companies is the Wild Waters Outdoor Center. Based out of Warrensburg, these 33-year veterans of the Hudson offer a trip on the Upper Hudson and the Middle Hudson. The Upper Hudson trip is a full day 17-mile raft which includes all equipment and a delicious riverside lunch and post-raft dinner. Their Middle Hudson trip is a 7-mile family-friendly introduction to rafting. The 2.5-hour outing takes rafters through Class III rapids and makes for a perfect springtime activity.
Companies on the Sacandaga River
The Sacandaga River is the place to go for those beginner rafters in the Lake George Area. Only 10 minutes from Lake George Village, the Class I-II rapids ensure family-friendly rafting that people of all ages and physical ability levels will love. The dam-controlled river guarantees that there is raft-able water all summer long. These three companies will get you and your family on the Sacandaga River.
Beaver Brook Outfitters sure do love whitewater rafting, because they’re also on the Sacandaga River. Their two hours, 3.5-mile family-friendly day tours feature Class II and III whitewater. The entire family is invited, as these trips are suitable for kids as young as five. Beaver Brook Outfitters raft the Sacandaga seven days a week all summer long.
Second on the list of Sacandaga River rafting companies is the Sacandaga Outdoor Center. Setting out from Hadley, their four-mile run is another perfect family adventure. In addition to an awesome day on the water, they also have water cannons. Yup, water cannons. And everyone is a target!
The third company on our Sacandaga River rafting list is Wild Waters Outdoor Center out of Lake Luzerne. They conquer the Sacandaga from June 16th through Labor Day. They head down the river three times daily. These 3.5-mile trips include easy water at first, a swimming section at the halfway point, and big rolling waves at the end.
The Hudson River Whitewater Derby
If you’re a seasoned rafter or you want to watch the experts dominate a river, you need to head to the Hudson River Whitewater Derby. This event, held for over 60 years, is an annual series of whitewater races on the Hudson. This Adirondack tradition features a novice slalom race and a giant slalom race on Saturday and a downriver race on Sunday. There’s even a “Not-so-Whitewater” race on Saturday for those beginner and intermediate level kayakers and canoers. Basil & Wick's hosts an awards party on Saturday complete with prizes and music.
What to Wear on the River
Some final advice: For summer trips you can’t go wrong with a bathing suit and a t-shirt. An extra layer never hurts, either. Do not wear cotton as it stays wet. Bring old sneakers or sandals that strap to your feet so you can safely walk in the river. Bring a jacket in the spring and fall. Other essential gear will be provided at the river and keys and cell phones are not necessary to bring.