Whitewater | Ontario Highlands Tourism

Whitewater rafting at RiverRun Rafting

Experience the thrill of whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canoeing in Ontario’s Highlands! With whitewater rapids appropriate for the beginner to expert paddler, rafting down one of our rivers makes for an exhilarating adventure that you’ll never forget.

Come for the day and take a rafting trip down the world-famous Ottawa River with one of our rafting companies. You can always take the family on a more gentle (but still fun!) excursion down the Madawaska River. Or come for a week and learn to canoe or kayak at one of our renowned whitewater schools. Get wet and find out first-hand why they call this area the Whitewater Capital of Canada.

About Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking & Canoeing

Want to know the difference between a Class I and a Class IV rapid? Interested in learning the lingo for this sport, including what a “taco” means? Visit the links below for everything you ever wanted to know and more about whitewater rafting.

Types of rapids in whitewater canoeing (video) – About rapid classifications, types, and difficulty
Rafting, Wikipedia – Includes whitewater rafting techniques, tricks, and safety tips
Whitewater, Wikipedia – Information about how whitewater is formed and what to expect in this type of water
Whitewater canoeing, Wikipedia – A background on whitewater canoeing, including history and paddling techniques
Whitewater kayaking, Wikipedia – A background on whitewater kayaking, including history and paddling techniques

Learn to Paddle: Schools, Tours, & Equipment

If you’ve never been whitewater paddling before, you’ll have a great time learning how in Ontario’s Highlands. The region features several rafting companies that offer clinics and courses for beginners plus the equipment you’ll need to enjoy yourself out on the rapids.

Canoeing clinics and courses, Madawaska Kanu Centre – Choose from weekend clinics or courses that span several days and earn you a skill level certification; rent or bring your own equipment
Kayaking clinics and courses, Madawaska Kanu Centre – Choose from weekend clinics or courses that span several days and earn you a skill level certification
Ottawa Kayak School – Kayaking instruction since 1982
OWL rafting – Choose from several rafting experiences, including a family rafting tour on the Ottawa or Madawaska River
RiverRun Rafting – Customize your rafting adventure with the thrill level that’s best for you
Wilderness Tours – Learn to kayak with experienced instructors

Family Friendly Whitewater Highlights

The raging fun of whitewater paddling is an experience the whole family can enjoy. Don’t worry about the little ones; riding down a river’s rushing rapids can be both thrilling and safe. Whitewater paddling is even suitable for those too young or unable to paddle.

Family float trips, Madawaska Kanu Centre – An exciting and affordable family getaway

Whitewater Rivers in the Region

Wondering which rivers have rapids suitable for rafting? Take a look at the list below for whitewater rivers found in Ontario’s Highlands.

Barron River
Black River – This river is popular in spring with canyon runs followed by lesser rapids and flat water
Bonnechere River
Coulonge River
Dumoine River
Grant’s Creek
Gull River
Madawaska River
Mattawa River
Noire River
Opeongo River
Ottawa River
Papineau Creek
Petawawa River
York River

Whitewater Paddling Trails

Finding a whitewater river to paddle is now literally at your fingertips. The Whitewater Ontario River Wiki documents rivers found in Ontario’s Highlands and has been infused with details about rapid access points, rapid classifications, length of runs, and other content added in by locals and those who have paddled the trail. We’ve also catalogued a few more resources within the region to help you find a paddling trail that’s nearby and suitable for your skill level.

Haliburton Highlands kayak trails – The river’s water section is 800 metres long and ranges from Class II to IV and will be the location for the Pan Am Toronto 2015 whitewater events

Beaver Creek – This springtime classic runs from April to about mid-May
Crowe River – Flows through Marmora and has two play spots
Gull River – Located in Minden, approximately 2.5 hours from Toronto, the 800 metre section of rapids ranges from Class II to IV
Madawaska River – The river is divided into 3 sections: Upper, Middle, and Lower; the entire river is approximately 450 kilometres in length
Magnetawan River – The bigger rapids along this river are Knoefli Falls, Poverty Bay Chutes, and Seller’s Rapids
Moira River – Two common run sections separated by a large stretch of flat water
Ottawa River: Beachburg – This world famous river is wide and deep with big water run for lots of play opportunity
Opeongo – There are six sections of rapids along this river ranging from Class II to IV
OWL Rafting, Ottawa River – Excursions for singles, couples, and groups running from mid-May to September
Oxtongue – There are two sections ranging from Class II to Class IV; the river usually only runs in the spring melt and sometimes in fall
Petawawa River – The park section can be run as a multi-day trip while the town section is a single day whitewater trip
RiverRun Rafting and Wilderness Resort, Ottawa River – Choose your experience, with rapids ranging from Class I to IV
Salmon River – One of the earliest rivers to become ice free each spring, there are three sections of rapids along the river
Skootamatta – River run includes small gorges mixed with easier rapids and flat water
Wilderness Tours, Beachburg – Vacation packages, kayak school, and resort accommodations for paddlers

More Whitewater Paddling Resources

Get a better feel for whitewater paddling before you head out onto the river. See below for videos and other resources that show you what to expect along the rapids plus local paddling events in Ontario’s Highlands.

MACKfest – A canoe and kayak festival near Marmora that takes place in spring
RiverRun Rafting and Wilderness Tours (video) – Rafting footage and information from RiverRun
Wilderness Tours, Ottawa river rafting and adventures resort (video) – See this paddling tour company in action

Whitewater Resources

Location: 247 River Rd, Barry's Bay

We offer 2 hour family Rafting trips for ages 2 and up. You can find us 1 hour from the East Gate of Algonquin Park, outside of beautiful Barry's Bay.

(613) 756-3620
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Location: 40 OWL Lane, Foresters Falls

OWL combines an exciting whitewater trip down the Ottawa River with a delicious BBQ meal on the return Pontoon Cruise to the lakeside resort. Family, 1 & 2 Day Packages embark daily from May to September. 90 min from Ottawa. No experience necessary.

(613) 646-2263
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Location: 1260 Grants Settlement Rd, Foresters Falls

A 165 acre resort offering whitewater rafting on the Ottawa river. Choose your excitement level with one of our river trips, from Gentle Family rafting to Ultimate Adventure rafting.

(613) 646-2501
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Location: 503 Rafting Rd, Foresters Falls

Canada's Biggest Whitewater Rafting Company and Adventure Resort! Great food, luxury accommodations, expansive resort and of course, incredible Rafting on the Ottawa River! Have an exciting Getaway this summer!

(613) 646-2291
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