Who Can Raft?
Anyone who enjoys the outdoors and is looking for adventure can raft. You need not be a fitness fanatic or an Olympic Athlete. Maine rafts typically hold an eight person crew and a guide. To protect the environmental quality of Maine’s rivers, the State limits the number of rafters each day.
What is included?
Outfitters provide transportation to and from their base facility to the rivers, life preservers, helmets and paddles, a pre-trip orientation and safety meeting, a ride down the river and a hearty, open grill meal. Most outfitters provide a slide or video show of your trip down the river at an “a près-trip” party at base camp.
How much does it cost?
Prices for river trips vary based on the month, day of the week and number of people in your party. A one day trip on the Kennebec typically ranges from $80 to $120 per person. A day trip on the Penobscot $90 to $130 per person and on the Dead $90 to $140 per person. Packages including lodging or camping and other wilderness activities are available and each outfitter offers group rates.
How long is the trip?
Maine rafting trips are full day adventures. You will need to be at the outfitter’s base camp between 7:30 and 9:30 am and can expect to be off the river between 3 and 4 PM.
Is there an age limit?
Yes, the minimum suggested age is 12 on the upper Kennebec and 8 on the lower section. The suggested age on the Penobscot is 15 on the upper sections and 10 on the lower. Minimum suggested age for the Dead River high water releases is 15.
Are there “kinder, gentler” trips?
Yes, The Lower Kennebec Trip of about 7 miles has Class II and II rapids. Many outfitters offer row-frame trips. On these trips the guide does all the work rowing the raft while passengers are not required to paddle. Float trips with gentle moving current are an option on the Kennebec below The Forks.
When can we go rafting?
The season on the Penobscot and Kennebec begins in late April and ends in mid October. Controlled daily dam releases from hydropower dams on these rivers guarantee water levels throughout the season, even during the driest summers. High water rafting on the Dead River is scheduled for May 3. 10. 25 & 31, June 7, 21, August 10, 31, September 13 and October 4. Dead River “recreational” level releases are scheduled July 26 and; August 9. Turbine release dates on the Kennebec with water flows of 8,000 cfs are scheduled June 14, July 7, Sept. 6 and Sept 20
Is there a “best” time to go rafting?
Thanks to daily dam releases, waterflow is guaranteed for rafting from May through early October. In May and June, spring run-off from melting snow increases waterflow. Rapids classification also increases. Spring is a great time for the thrill seeker. Spring is also the best time to see moose, before they head deep into the woods to escape the summer’s heat. In September and early October the water is still warm and the atmosphere is more tranquil after summer tourists have returned to school and work. Late summer and early fall rafters have the good fortune to view the spectacular foliage. foliage
What should I wear?
Bring a bathing suit, wool or polar fleece sweater, windbreaker or rain suit. Do not wear cotton T-shirts, sweatshirts or jeans as cotton remains cold when wet. Wear more clothes than you think you’ll need and bring a change of clothes and towel for after the trip. Footwear must be worn at all times on the river. Sneakers or soft soled shoes are good. Before June 30th and after September 1st, wetsuits may be mandatory on inclement weather days. Wetsuits are available for rent at the outfitter.
Is rafting safe?
There is an element of risk in any adventure sport or activity associated with the outdoors. Because of the inherent risk, dangers and rigors required of rafting the rivers, rafters are required to sign a participation agreement with waiver of Liability and Risk Assumption. The trip guides are all registered Whitewater Guides licensed by the State of Maine. The equipment meets the safety standards and regulations set by the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Outfitters provide life jackets. A major medical kit accompanies each trip. If you are concerned about your physical ability to take a trip, consult your physician. Use of drugs and alcohol prior to or during the trip is forbidden. Outfitters reserve the right to refuse trip participation.
Do I have to know how to swim?
No, but a healthy respect for and lack of fear of the water is recommended. Your outfitter will conduct a pre-trip river orientation and safety lecture .
What about the weather?
Raft trips go rain or shine. Most rafters will get splashed and wet even on the driest days. Wear plenty of sunscreen on bright days as the sun’s rays are much stronger reflecting off the water.
Where can I stay?
It’s a good idea to stay overnight before your trip. All outfitters have campgrounds and/or cabin tents at their base facilities. Many provide a variety of lodging including B&B’s, log cabins, guest houses, inns, and motels.
How far away are the rivers?
|Driving time from:||Kennebec/Dead||Penobscot|
|Portland, ME||3 hours||4 hours|
|Bangor, ME||2 1/2 hours||1 1/2 hours|
|Kittery, ME||4 hours||5 hours|
|Bar Harbor, ME||3 1/2 hours||2 1/2 hours|
|Camden, ME||2 1/2 hours||2 1/2 hours|
|Boston, MA||5 hours||6 hours|
|New York, NY||9 hours||10 hours|
Directions to the Rivers and Maine Map
From southern and central Maine take Route 95 North to Exit 133 and Route 201 North for the Kennebec and Dead Rivers. Take Route 95 North to Exit 244 and Route 157 for the Penobscot. From coastal Maine follow state roads inland to Route 95 and then to the designated exits.
Here is a link to a Maine Map