A Whitewater Rafting Extravaganza
If whitewater rafting isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be. And if you haven’t crossed it off the list already, you should plan your trip to Ohiopyle to feel the thrill of the whitewater for yourself!
If you are familiar with Ohiopyle, you’ve seen the outfitters scattered throughout town near the train station and the new visitors center. Even if you aren’t familiar with it, you should know that central Ohiopyle is not where you check in for the rafting trips! Just a few minutes’ drive from Cucumber Falls is the parking area for the rafting check in at 171 Dinnerbell Road, Ohiopyle PA 15470. Please learn from my mistakes so you are not also late for the trip. Here you get suited up for the day and receive the first instructions. You’ll have a few minutes to make last minute wardrobe adjustments, lock away personal items in your car, and apply some sunscreen before you grab your helmet and life jacket and board the buses to the put-in.
The river guides were some of the funniest and nicest people I’ve ever encountered. I would be too if I got to have that much fun on the river every day! After a brief and hilarious safety overview and some basic instructions, we carried our rafts down to the river’s edge. Carrying the rafts to and from the river was the only challenging part of our trip. If you’re the least bit nervous about heading out on the water, hopefully this fact helps. Being in the water was much easier, even when we got stuck on a few rocks along the way.
I was a little intimidated at first. Once your raft is in the water at the put-in, you almost immediately go over your first rapid. While that might seem scary, it sets the tone for the rest of the trip. I was instantly more comfortable and could not wait for the next rapid. After surviving one or two rapids, it feels so much more relaxed and enjoyable. I truly recommend having a guide in your boat for your first time on the water. It took the pressure off the entire situation. We had no major incidents and no one fell out of the boat. Well, no one that wasn’t given a friendly push. Plus, he told us the names of the rapids we were about to tackle, and we learned a lot about the rapids and how to handle each water feature in addition to hearing some local tales.
The Lower Yough offers 7.5 miles of continuous Class II-IV whitewater, which makes it the most versatile stretch of whitewater on the East Coast. “Youghiogheny” is an Algonquin Native American word that’s literal meaning is a stream that flows in a contrary direction. The river flows northwest, and the Lower Yough is the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi River.
My wardrobe tips: wear a swimsuit and water shoes. Ladies, wear shorts over those bikini bottoms. You’ll thank me later. Tennis shoes, secure sandals, or water shoes are your best options for the river. Bring a pair of sunglasses that you won’t mind losing, too.
Rafting is the ultimate adventure full of thrills around every bend. From jumping off the big rocks into the deep water to surfing on hydraulics, the day was a blast. The more the merrier! Our group of 10 split up in two boats, and we still saw plenty of each other, even though we weren’t in the same raft. The guides are like one great big family in Ohiopyle. They really know what they’re doing and will make your trip very enjoyable.
In all honesty, you do spend some time waiting between each rapid while the whole group of guided rafts and escorts cycle through. This was worth the comfort of going with the group, and there was plenty of time to swim and float along with the boat in calmer water, too.
We spent about six hours on the trip including lunch and time spent getting ready. The guides set up a small picnic lunch about halfway through the trip along the water’s edge to get us fueled and ready to keep going on the water for the rest of the day. When we hit our last few rapids, I couldn’t help feeling sad that it was almost over. I will totally be going back again soon!
While the river is a hub of fun and thrills, it’s important to remember that rafting is a serious sport with risks like any other outdoor adventure. Pay attention to your surroundings, and don’t put yourself at unnecessary risk. Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the river!