Situated at the convergence of two mighty rivers—the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence—outstanding Montreal rafting opportunities are just as plentiful as smoked meat and 17th-century architecture. You can enjoy thrilling whitewater rafting minutes from downtown, or drive just an hour away to discover amazing canyons and beautiful rivers tumbling out of the Laurentian Mountains.
The best reasons to put rafting near Montreal on your summer bucket list are the incredible scenery, warm water, adrenaline-pumping waves and rapids—and the fact that it’s so accessible! Anyone can enjoy a rafting trip on Montreal’s Lachine Rapids or the pristine Rouge River. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experienced paddler, acclaimed rafting outfitters offer trips for all ages and adventure appetites. No whitewater experience is necessary; you’ll learn everything you need to know before hitting the first set of rapids.
[This article is part of our 24 Adventurous Things To Do In Montreal series. Learn more about where to hike, bike, paddle and sightsee around Quebec’s largest city.]
Where to go Family Rafting in Montreal
Montreal Lachine Rapids Rafting
Get a taste for St Lawrence River rafting on the world-famous Lachine Rapids at LaSalle, Montreal. Located just steps from downtown Montreal, LaSalle rafting experiences on the Lachine Rapids range from gentle family rafting to high-adrenaline adventure. Easily accessible by car, metro and bike, Rafting Montréal offers Lachine Rapids rafting excursions for all types of paddlers. Beginners and families can enjoy a calmer introduction to whitewater while splashing down class I-II rapids and marvelling at the clear green water and urban skyline. Bilingual, professional guides will make sure you have an unforgettable experience in the heart of the city. Family rafting tours are just over 2 hours long and include time for an optional swim in the rapids.
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Riviere Rouge Rafting
Get your feet wet on Quebec’s most popular whitewater rafting river, just an hour’s drive west of Montreal. Known variously as the Riviere Rouge, Rouge River or Red River, this rafting hotspot offers introductory family trips in a pristine river valley at Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Quebec. This is an unforgettable family summer activity and a perfect way to introduce kids to whitewater activities. Children must be at least 6 years old and weigh a minimum of 23 kilograms (50 pounds). Accompanied by expert river guides, families will raft rapids up to class III, with stops for swimming, body surfing, cliff jumping and a picnic lunch on a beautiful beach. Propulsion Rafting and New World Rafting (Rafting Nouveau Monde) offer family rafting trips on the Rouge River.
Gatineau River Family Rafting
Rushing out of the Laurentian Mountains 3.5 hours northwest of Montreal, it’s well worth making the road trip to raft the wild and majestic Gatineau River. While parts of the river offer rapids up to class V (more on that below), the section used for family rafting is a beautiful and gentle float with easy class I-II rapids. Join the skilled and friendly guides at Bonnet Rouge Rafting Gatineau River for an unforgettable half-day of Gatineau River rafting. Camping packages at Bonnet Rouge Rafting’s family-friendly riverside basecamp are also available.
Mattawin River Family Rafting
Located just over 2 hours north of Montreal, the Riviere Mattawin is a road trip-worthy rafting destination for adventurous families. Set in a wild and beautiful river valley, the Mattawin River’s calmer stretches offer easy rapids and exceptional scenery for family rafting float trips. Four-season adventure resort Centre D’Aventure Mattawin offers half- and full-day family rafting tours complete with swimming and playing in the current. It’s easy to plan a longer family getaway, thanks to the Mattawin Adventure Centre’s incredible variety of adventure activities, which include canoeing in nearby Parc National de la Mauricie, canyoning and whitewater kayaking. Accommodation packages can include camping, spacious Ready-to-Camp prospector tents and comfortable eco-cabins.
High Adventure Whitewater Rafting Montreal
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Lachine Rapids Montreal
Adventure Rafting experiences in the Lachine Rapids are Montreal’s most popular St Lawrence River rafting tours. Get ready for an adrenaline rush as you face down class III-IV rapids and raft-swallowing whirlpools on this half-day tour. Some of the most intense waves on the Saint Lawrence River, such as Big John, Outétoucos, Louis Leap and the Devils Drop, will leave thrill-seekers wanting another run. Rafting Montréal and Club Raft offer Lachine Rapids adventure rafting. Both are located minutes from downtown in Montreal’s LaSalle district.
Rouge River Rafting
Experience the thrill of heart-pounding drops and continuous class III-IV rapids on the Rouge River, just an hour’s drive from Montreal. In its final 10 kilometers, the Riviere Rouge enters a canyon and drops precipitously toward its confluence with the Ottawa—a cathartic spill of rapids and falls that have made it Quebec’s most popular river for high-adrenaline whitewater rafting. You will descend the best stretch of river based on water levels—early in the season that means braving the high water of Harrington Canyon, while summer offers challenging trips down the rambunctious Seven Sisters. Beautiful scenery, sandy beaches between rapids and places for surfing, swimming and floating in the current make this an unforgettable half-day or full day trip.
Two acclaimed rafting resorts offer guided Rouge River trips:
New World Rafting (Rafting Nouveau Monde)
With nearly 40 years experience rafting the Rouge River, New World Rafting (Rafting Nouveau Monde) are experts at curating memorable Riviere Rouge rafting experiences. Choose from a half-day of rafting (8 km) or a full day featuring two runs of the best rapids on the Rouge (16 km). New World also offers high adventure sportyaking, easy-going family rafting, a whitewater kayak school and weekend packages, which include a full day of rafting, camping, meals and access to the spa, pool, beach and bar at their riverfront location.
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Launched in 1982, Propulsion Rafting boasts decades of experience and a gorgeous base camp location nestled in the forest beside the Rouge River, just above the Seven Sisters rapids. Choose from half-day or full day rafting in 6- to 8-person rafts, or get even closer to the wet and wild action in a 2-person cataraft or sportyak. These inflatable kayaks offer an experience in between rafting and kayaking and can accommodate one or two paddlers. Under the supervision of an experienced kayaker, you will guide your own sportyak or cataraft down the best rapids on the Rouge River. For a full weekend experience, opt for Propulsion Rafting’s riverside camping or cozy cabin stay with access to the on-site spa, pool, beach volleyball and bar.
Gatineau River Rafting
Make the 3.5-hour road trip from Montreal to the legendary Gatineau River and you won’t be disappointed. The volume and intensity of the Gatineau’s rapids draw rafting enthusiasts from across Ontario, Quebec and the northeastern United States, and from as far away as Europe. You will encounter seven major rapids all rated class III-IV or higher during your 12-kilometer descent, including four rapids rated class V—the highest class available for commercial whitewater rafting! The experienced guides at Bonnet Rouge Rafting make it possible for anyone from beginners to experts to enjoy a half-day of high-adrenaline Gatineau River rafting. Camping packages at Bonnet Rouge Rafting’s rustic riverside basecamp are also available.
Gatineau River Expedition Rafting
Get your friends and family together for a unique, custom expedition rafting experience on the Upper Gatineau River. Available for groups of 12–25, Boreal River Adventures will work with you to create an unforgettable 3- to 5-day whitewater rafting trip complete with beautiful wild camping on the river. On this leadership and educational expedition you can expect to learn whitewater navigation and safety and develop wilderness camping skills while experiencing the magic of a river journey.
Mattawin River Rafting
Bordering the edge of a huge wilderness area including Parc National de la Mauricie, the Riviere Mattawin is a road trip-worthy rafting destination located just over 2 hours north of Montreal. Set in a wild and beautiful river valley, the Mattawin River’s heart-pounding Rapides des Cinq section boasts 9 kilometers of non-stop class III and IV rapids, the longest stretch of continuous rapids of this class in Quebec. Four-season adventure resort Centre D’Aventure Mattawin offers full-day rafting and inflatable kayaking tours, as well as half-day whitewater river boarding and introductory whitewater kayaking instruction.
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Mattawin River Expedition Rafting
Looking for the ultimate rafting experience? Join Centre D’Aventure Mattawin for a multi-day downriver rafting adventure of a lifetime. If you are short on time, the 2-day Mattawin River rafting expedition features 30 kilometers of the Mattawin’s biggest and best rapids, complete with one night of riverside camping. For those who prefer to go big or go home, the 6-day rafting expedition is a bucket list-worthy 90-km descent that kicks off with a seaplane flight to your put-in. This all-inclusive guided rafting trip includes 5 nights of wild camping along one of the most beautiful rivers in Quebec.
What to Know About Rafting Montreal
Safety is always a concern when participating in any outdoor adventure activity, and that is one reason it’s recommended to go with a reputable rafting company that has years of experience.
To be safe on the water, it’s important to follow the guide’s instructions. They’ve been doing this for a long time and are there to make your trip as enjoyable as possible. Injuries while whitewater rafting are few and far between. The most common injuries are bumps, bruises and scrapes. Each raft carries a first aid kit, and all guides are certified in First Aid and CPR.
Gentle rafting trips rated low-intensity are suitable for children as young as 6 (must weigh at least 50 pounds/23 kilograms). Higher intensity rafting trips are suitable for children ages 13 and up (minimum weight is 90 pounds/40 kilograms).
Rafting outfitters provide all mandatory safety equipment—including helmet, life jacket and optional wetsuit for early/late season trips. Aside from the basics, including a bathing suit and/or swim shorts, you should bring a rashguard or sun-protection shirt, waterproof sunscreen and dry change of clothing. You’re also going to need shoes that will stay securely on your feet (this means leave your flip flops and Crocs in the car). Wear water shoes or sport sandals with a secure adjustable back strap. Also make sure eyeglasses/sunglasses are secured. Check with your outfitter about keeping your cellphone on you, or whether it should be in a waterproof gear case.
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When to Go Rafting in Montreal
The rafting season in Montreal opens in early May and runs through late September or early October, depending on the outfitter. Summer (late June through August) is the busiest and most popular rafting season in Montreal. This is when the water is warmest and the days are hottest, so it’s a perfect time if you want to swim, body surf or cliff jump and don’t mind waiting a bit longer for that next surf wave. Some family rafting options are also not available until the lower water levels of late May or even mid-June.
If you want maximum volume rapids and are warm-blooded enough to brave the cold water and air temperatures, go in the spring (May–June).
Fall (September–October) brings cooler days, but the water is still warmer than spring and the water levels are often higher than summer (but not as high as spring)—so it can be a good time if you are looking for a bit more excitement with reasonable temperatures and fewer crowds.
All whitewater rafting outfitters will have insulating neoprene wetsuits available for rent and can let you know based on the weather, time of year and your personal preference if you would be more comfortable wearing one.
Remarkable rafting is close at hand when you visit Montreal. | Photo courtesy of: Laurentides © Tourisme Québec // Linda Turgeon