Officially named the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, this beautiful state includes the Appalachian, Great Lakes, Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States—but, thankfully, it’s normally referred to as just “PA” for short.
Whitewater rafting in PA is found on the Lehigh, Youghiogheny, Delaware and Susquehanna rivers, as well as Pine Creek. Wherever you choose to visit, rafting in PA is a picturesque and exciting adventure.
Where to go whitewater rafting in Pennsylvania
Ohiopyle State Park / Youghiogheny River
The Youghiogheny River is the gem of Ohiopyle State Park, which is found in Southeastern PA and is a beautiful spot with a variety of activities to do. Whitewater rafting in this part of PA is generally split into the Lower, Middle and Upper Yough. Middle Yough contains class I to II rapids, and trips down this section are great for little ones or those who are just discovering the thrilling world of whitewater rafting and want something exciting but easier.
Lower Yough is the intermediate section, with class II to IV rapids that will pump up your adrenaline. The Upper Yough is one of the best spots for serious whitewater rafting in PA. Class V rapids, heart-stopping drops and narrow twists in the river make this section an amazing adventure for experienced paddlers.
American Whitewater has a super detailed and informative site with descriptions of all of the rapids found in Ohiopyle, any warnings in the area, etc. They’re a great resource to use when you’re planning your whitewater rafting trip in PA.
- Lower Yough: $52 per person
- Middle Yough: $42 per person
- Upper Yough: $125 per person
- Lower Yough: $52 to $125 per person
- Middle Yough: $37 to $72 per person
- Upper Yough: $125 to 170 per person
Prices vary based on desired level of oversight from guides.
Good news if you’re in the Pittsburgh area—you’re also less than 1.5 hours from Ohiopyle and whitewater rafting trips down some of PA’s best rapids on the Youghiogheny River. From Pittsburgh, you’ll wind your way southeast through Murrysville, New Stanton and Mill Run. Ohiopyle is close enough to Pittsburgh that you should have no problem fitting in a full day of whitewater rafting at the various outfitters outlined above.
The Delaware River is an important waterway, its watershed providing drinking water to 6% of the U.S. population. In PA, rafting on the Delaware is a calmer experience than the Yough or Lehigh rivers. The Delaware is wider and slower moving, perfect for a more relaxed day on the river. Because the river is the border between New York and Pennsylvania, rental and tour companies operate on either side of the river.
The stretch of the Delaware near Point Pleasant, PA isn’t heart-pounding like other spots, but it’s a fun and memorable option for families and those looking for a quieter day. Check out Bucks County River Country for rentals. They’re a local company that can provide you with rafts for a quiet, calm water day floating on the Delaware. Similarly, Indian Head, PA is a popular put-in for group-friendly rafting expeditions, both single-day and overnight, that are relaxing, fun and great group adventures.
- $25 to $35 per person
- $43 to $49 per person
- $44 to $49 per person (kids go free!)
The Pennsylvania Poconos boast exciting and challenging whitewater rafting adventures with a variety of rapids to suit most skill levels. Jim Thorpe River Adventures offers three levels of whitewater trips ranging from laid-back and family-friendly to adrenaline-filled, heart-pounding big water. In this area you’ll be on the Susquehanna or Lehigh, depending on your pick of whitewater trip.
- $32.95 to $62.95 per person (Prices vary based on the difficulty of the trip.)
- $39.99 to $69.99 per person
- $34.95 to $64.95 per person
Pine Creek Gorge is home to truly breathtaking scenery and exciting whitewater rafting. This gem of a spot is sometimes called the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania,” and that moniker doesn’t disappoint. Found in the gorgeous Tioga State Park, if you can plan a trip here in the fall you’ll be treated to a riot of oranges, reds, and yellows in the surrounding woods. Whitewater rafting trips on Pine Creek are run by one tour company, so they are a bit more expensive than some of the other trips on the Lehigh or Susquehanna Rivers—but this unique experience is worth it!
- $74 to $89 per person
When to go
While PA is icy and snowy during the winter months from November to February, the whitewater season still runs for seven to eight months of the year. April generally marks the beginning of the season because the rivers are high due to the runoff from snowmelt. Most rivers are at their highest during the spring months. There are some exceptions, mainly the Lehigh River, that are reliable from April to November due to scheduled dam releases.
What to wear
PA enjoys a humid climate, with warm spring months and summers that can be very hot. The time of year that you plan your whitewater rafting trip in PA will dictate what your best clothing choices will be. In the spring months, bring layers for the mornings and be prepared to wear a wetsuit—they are required by PA State Parks until the end of April. You’re welcome to bring your own, but most tour companies that require them also provide rental options.
Non-cotton athletic clothing will suit well for this type of trip. Synthetic fabrics dry more quickly, which will keep you more comfortable during your whitewater rafting day. Long pants made of a durable fabric will be your best bet in the late-spring and fall seasons.
Footwear is important for any type of river trip—the last thing you need to worry about is injuring your feet or toes on loose rocks or debris in the water. Wear a shoe that will stay on your foot and cover your toes—no flip flops! Outdoor apparel companies sell water shoes made from neoprene or hydrophobic materials that are designed for the river—check out some options in the Paddling Buyer’s Guide.
Neoprene shoes are comfortable and will keep your feet warm; if you’re purchasing shoes specifically for this trip, this type of shoe will be the most economical option. Neoprene shoes generally run $25+. More technical water shoes are generally in the $100+ range and are very useful if you’re going to be using them more regularly.