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Shenandoah National Park: Best Rafting of Virginia!

Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park

If you're looking to add a splash of excitement to your outdoor adventures, Shenandoah National Park is the perfect destination. Nestled in the heart of Virginia, this natural gem offers a myriad of activities for adventure enthusiasts, outdoor lovers, and local rafters alike. But what truly sets Shenandoah apart is its exceptional rafting opportunities that promise both thrills and serene beauty.

Discover Shenandoah National Park

Basic Info and Location

Rafting on the river
Rafting on the River

Shenandoah National Park spans over 200,000 acres of protected land and stretches along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. It’s a treasure trove of biodiversity, home to lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and an array of wildlife. The park's entrance is just a short drive from Washington, D.C., making it an accessible getaway for city dwellers craving a nature escape. With easy access to the Appalachian Trail and George Washington National Forest this area of Virginia offers lots of outdoor activities beyond rafting.

A Glimpse into Its History

Established in 1935, Shenandoah National Park was created to preserve the stunning landscapes and provide a haven for wildlife. Today, it's a beloved destination for hiking, camping, and, of course, rafting. The park's rich history and natural wonders make it a must-visit for anyone looking to connect with nature.

Why Rafting in Shenandoah National Park Is Unmatched

Canoes, Kayaks and rafting, all can happen on the Shenandoah RIver
Canoes. Kayaks and rafting, all can happen on the Shenandoah River

Rafting in the Shenandoah area is a unique experience that combines the rush of whitewater with the tranquility of flatwater stretches. The Shenandoah River winds its way through picturesque valleys, offering rafters breathtaking views and diverse aquatic adventures. Whether you're a seasoned rafter or a beginner, Shenandoah's varied sections cater to all skill levels, ensuring an unforgettable experience.

Best rafting time is late Spring and early summer. You do not want to raft when water levels are too high which means they are over 5.6 feet tall. High rafting water levels are between 3.5 and 5.6 feet high.  Normal rafting levels are at 2.5 to 3.5 feet. Low level rapids are considered to be below 2.5 feet and will cause you to drag on rocks easily with a raft or canoe.

The rapids are considered to be Class I to Class III rapids, which is a good variety of rapids for inexperienced and experienced rafters. Pro Tip: Just a couple hours west in West Virginia there are Class III and Class IV rapids on the Gauley River, if you are very experienced.

Top Rafting Companies in Shenandoah

To make the most of your rafting trip, consider booking with one of these top-notch rafting companies:

Location: Luray, VA 

Why Choose Them: With over 50 years of experience, Shenandoah River Outfitters offers guided trips and equipment rentals. They provide everything you need for a memorable day on the water, including expert guides who share fascinating insights about the river's ecology and history. If interested in a large group rafting experience they can accommodate. Princes on their website under the website under the group tag, shows discounts, but also do not include Virginia sales tax, which is 5.3%. Pro Tip: These are the closest outfitter to the Luray Caverns. When visiting this area you need to visit Luray Caverns. Check out my blog about this area and the Caverns.

Location: Elkton, VA 

Why Choose Them: Known for their family-friendly approach, Shenandoah River Adventures offers trips suitable for all ages. Their knowledgeable guides ensure a safe and fun experience for small children and the whole family. Making it a great option for families and groups of friends. They will all have a great time. The have a reasonably priced haul or shuttle service for those of you who are bringing your own kayak. Pro Tip: When not rafting, take some time and drive the Skyline Drive of Shenandoah National Park, it is a beautiful drive.

Rafting Team Picture
Rafting Team picture

Location: Front Royal, VA 

Why Choose Them: This company specializes in customizable trips, allowing you to tailor your adventure to your preferences. Whether you're looking for a leisurely float or an adrenaline-pumping ride through Class II rapids, Front Royal Canoe Company has you covered. Pro tip: They offer camping with picnic tables, glamping and cabins to stay in if interested (nice for a hot shower after a day in the chilly water)

Location: Bentonville, VA 

Why Choose Them: Downriver Canoe Company prides itself on its environmentally conscious practices. They offer eco-tours that highlight the area's natural beauty while educating rafters on the importance of conservation. They have been in operation since 1974, and rafting rentals are self-guided on the Shenandoah River, but simple for the inexperienced rafter. Pro Tip: Kids can raft, minimum age is 5 years old.

Location: McGaheysville, VA 

Why Choose Them: Perfect for those staying at the Massanutten Resort, this company provides convenient access to the river and a variety of trip options. From gentle floats to thrilling white water rapids, Massanutten Adventures caters to all adventure levels. With over 21 experience and serving over 100,000 customers, Massanutten knows rafting. Pro Tip: If traveling from other areas and want a tour of Washington DC, they offer motorcoach tours to the nation's capital for a day tour.

Location: Harpers Ferry, WV

Why Choose Them: River Riders Adventure Park lies just outside the Shenandoah area, in West Virginia, but is actually closer to Washington DC. This adventure park has rafting, canoeing, and paddleboarding on the Shenandoah or Potomac Rivers. This adventure park also offers ziplining. Pro Tip: Try the flat water tubing on the Shenandoah River for a peaceful experience.

Wrapping Up Your Adventure

Shenandoah National Park's rafting scene is a hidden gem that promises unforgettable experiences for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. With its stunning landscapes and diverse river sections, there's no better place to enjoy the thrill of rafting in Virginia. Whether you choose to ride the rapids or take a leisurely float, Shenandoah valley, its beauty and excitement await you.

Ready to make a splash? Book your rafting trip with one of these top companies and immerse yourself in the magic of Shenandoah National Park Rafting, you will have a great day. Happy paddling!

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