A group of people riding down rapids in a whitewater raft.

Ottawa River | Destination Ontario

Whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River

A group of people riding down rapids in a whitewater raft.

Ottawa River | Destination Ontario

It's time to check whitewater rafting off your bucket list.

Gear up to ride the class III and IV daredevil sections of the Ottawa River’s Rocher Fendu rapids at Butcher’s Knife, Coliseum and Hell’s Half Mile. Wrestle opponents named Bus Eater and The White Faced Monster. And tackle the steep, five-metre waterfall at Garvin’s Chute in the Middle Channel. 

Trips include guided big raft adventures for up to 13 people, sport rafting for six to eight people and compact whitewater kayaks.

If you’re looking for rafting with less heart-pounding excitement, set out on a relaxing half or full-day river float along quieter channels, perfect for a family trip.

Whitewater rafting season

The Ottawa River has excellent flows from May to September. Some rapids are better in lower water than high. The rapids are rated as Class III to V, but at any water level, the Ottawa River provides some of the best whitewater rafting in Ontario.

Whitewater rafting resorts

There are four waterfront resorts in the Ottawa Valley that offer exceptional guided day or multi-day whitewater rafting packages.

Packages include delicious meals, accommodation options of campsites, RV sites, cabins or lodge rooms and use of resort amenities. In addition to the whitewater rafting, enjoy other water activities like paddling, swimming, as well as beach volleyball, mountain biking and even relaxing in a sauna.

The resorts are open from May to September, and weekdays are generally less crowded, as are early season weekends.

Wilderness Tours Adventure Resort

As Canada’s largest whitewater rafting resort, this property offers the full experience.

Accommodations range from camping to basic and deluxe cabins and activities extend beyond the wild river rafting and kayak adventure. There’s a pool, sports courts and a restaurant with live music entertainment and nightlife. If the rough ride isn’t thrilling enough, up the ante with fishing or mountain biking.

Location: 1260 Grants Settlement Road, Foresters Falls

OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River

This riverside resort features great high-energy adventure, as well as family-oriented trips in their one or two-day packages.

Choose from waterfront camping, rustic cabins or luxury cabanas with ensuite washrooms. Meal plans are available and the dinner cruise along the calmer waters of the Ottawa River is highly recommended.

Location: 40 Owl Lane, Foresters Falls

RiverRun Rafting Resort

Choose your adventure level from whitewater thrills on big rafts or sport rafts to a gentler whitewater trip on the Middle Channel. Or opt for a relaxing summer day of floating in an inner tube down the river.

 Whatever experience you choose, you’ll share a laugh while regrouping in the pub at the end of the day for refreshments and a video presentation of your trip. Lodging includes a range of cabins, cottages and two nearby houses, as well as a campground.

Location: 1260 Grants Settlement Road, Foresters Falls

Madawaska Kanu Centre

Learn new techniques and improve your paddling skills on a gentle rafting, canoeing or kayaking excursion on the Madawaska River. This is the perfect balance of adventure and guiding for families or anyone looking for an intro to the sport.

Created, owned and operated by three generations of paddlers, you’re in expert hands on these trips downstream. Stay in the Swiss-style chalet with easy access to the activity centre. Cabanas, dorms and camping are all also available.

Location: 247 River Road, Barry’s Bay

Types of whitewater rafting trips

Because of the many channels on the Ottawa River, there are three types of whitewater rafting trips offered. The trips are based on the level of adventure intensity: low, medium or high.

Low-intensity rafting trips

Low-intensity rafting trips are very easy and are suitable for non-swimmers, multi-generation and groups with children five years old and up weighing at least 22 kg (50 lbs).

Your experienced guide steers a six or seven-person raft and will direct you on how to paddle, although these gentle float adventures don’t require you to paddle. There is a very low chance your raft will flip or fall out.

These day or multi-day packages are offered from June to September in the gentle channels of the river with Class II and III rapids. Trips include optional body surfing and swimming along the way.

Choose from:

Medium-intensity rafting trips

Medium-intensity rafting trips are designed for people with basic to good swimming skills and who are comfortable being in the water as there is a good chance your raft will flip.

These trips use a 12-person raft that is steered by an experienced professional. Active paddling is required by all. Trips include optional body surfing, floating and cliff jumping.

Children must be 13 years or older and weigh 40 kg (90 lbs) or more. These day or multi-day packages run in May to September.

Choose from:

High-intensity rafting adventures

High-intensity rafting trips offer the ultimate excitement in whitewater fun in smaller rafts. Participants should have great swimming skills and be very comfortable being in the water as it is likely the raft will flip. These are not recommended for first-timers.

Keen paddlers will be guided by an experienced professional in a six or seven-person sport raft or in a two-person sport yak and will be required to do active paddling. Trips include optional body surfing, floating and cliff jumping.

Children must be 13 years or older and weigh 40 kg (90 lbs) or more. These day or multi-day packages run from May to September.

Choose from:

Whitewater rafting for non-swimmers

Non-swimmers can enjoy low-intensity whitewater rafting trips or a gentle float trip. Medium and high-intensity trips are not recommended.

The whitewater rafting resorts offer a host of alternative things to do for people who choose not to raft. You can go on hiking trails, mountain biking and relax on the beach by the river.

What to wear whitewater rafting

During May and September, the water is cool and full wetsuits are available to rent or may be supplied by some rafting companies.

Later in spring and in the summer, the river warms up to roughly 20 C (70 F), but on cooler days you may still want to rent a half or full suit.

You will be advised what to wear when you book your trip, however, this list will give you an idea of what you might need.

Cooler days: May, early-June and September

  • Secure footwear, including sneakers, sport sandals or water shoes (no flip flops or crocs)
  • Wool socks
  • Wool or fleece sweater
  • Nylon windbreaker
  • Full wetsuit (available for rent)
  • Sunscreen

Warm days: mid-June through August

  • Sneakers, sport sandals or water shoes (no flip flops or crocs)
  • Bathing suit
  • Quick dry clothing
  • Full or half wetsuit depending on weather (available for rent)
  • Sunscreen

Last updated: February 21, 2024

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