The Ottawa Valley between Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, is awash with wild rivers and untamed landscapes. White water rafting is therefore a natural draw to the area, with four major river systems offering plenty of opportunities to raft, canoe, kayak and even surf or paddle board, should you be inclined.
Seasoned white water rafters can take their pick of the rivers and simply hire the equipment they need on the ground, but for newbies and intermediates, it’s advisable to take advantage of the many fantastic water sports schools in the area. An expert is invaluable, and many offer a selection of great tours and packages to suit all skill levels. Take a look at our guide to white water rafting in the Ottawa Valley and start planning your active Canadian getaway.
The majestic Ottawa River was once the main transport and trade route for early explorers, fur traders, and Native Americans. Nowadays it’s the perfect place for modern explorers, white water enthusiasts, and nature lovers. This is a well-known and well-loved 1,400 km stretch of river, ideal for rafting, canoeing and kayaking, with high volume rapids (like the famed McCoy’s Chute), boat-soaking waves, and plenty of adventure to be had in the Canyon, Main and Middle Ottawa River, calming down to class I and II rapids (perfect for beginners) on the Lower Ottawa River.
You can find some intense white water rafting just a couple of hours from the city of Ottawa on the Petawawa River. Like many of the other major rivers in the area, the Petawawa has its headwaters in Algonquin Park, which – thanks to its elevated position, known as the “Algonquin Dome” – is a great casting-off point for a white water adventure. Tackling the rapids by canoe is popular on this stretch of river, and in the springtime, more experienced riders can tackle the class III and class IV rapids that rise up with the spring floods. The Petawawa is also the starting point for the Hell or High Water competition, one of the largest white water races in the US.
Grab a canoe or a kayak (you can rent any equipment you need in the area) and spend some time riding the white water on the Madawaska River, just upriver from Griffith (about 2.5 hours from Ottawa). One of the finest spots in the Ottawa Valley, get there early in the season and you can hurtle down Class II-III rapids, or wait until the season progresses and tackle some more sedate white water. For a good start to any white water day trip, push off from Aumond Bay and make your way downstream.
For those travellers who feel that the great outdoors aren’t actually all that great, there’s still plenty of opportunity try white water rafting in the Ottawa Valley without actually leaving the city. Suitable for families and adrenaline-junkies alike, the Ottawa City Rafting tour takes in a great stretch of the Ottawa River, including the exciting DeschÃªnes Rapids. Starting off in Britannia, the whole adventure takes a few hours, ending near Lemieux Island, just west of downtown Ottawa.
Header image: White water rafters in the Ottawa Valley © Fuse/iStock/Thinkstock
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Have you been white water rafting in the Ottawa Valley? Which were your favourite routes? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Giverny Tattersfield