White Water Rafting Ottawa
White Water Rafting Ottawa Pictures
White Water Rafting Ottawa River
Interested in some of the best white water rafting in North America? Looking for an extreme sport adventure? Then consider white water rafting in Ottawa. The Ottawa river is home to the second highest commercially rafted rapids and is white water capital of Canada as well as the nation’s capital.
The local tour companies are skilled and knowledgeable. They will set you up with big hits and a day of fun while keeping you safe.
The Ottawa River is 1271 km long river that for the most part divides the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The river passes right through the nation’s capital, Ottawa.
Ottawa River Rafting Tours
The best way to become familiar with the river and experience this adventure is to go on a day trip with a tour company. There are tour companies on both the Ontario and Quebec side of the river.
Available Tour groups:
- River Run
- Wilderness Tours
Personally I have stayed at Wilderness Tours twice so I will speak to the experience that they offer for white water rafting on the Ottawa River.
A typical tour is about half a day long and includes a sizable and decent BBQ lunch which is comprised of soup, a hamburger and a sausage plus salad, drink and chips (with vegetarian or celiac substitutes if need be).
You will most likely be on a 12 person raft which makes rafting a great event for parties, team building or even a romantic action packed date for two. There are options for 6 person rafts and self guided raft trips as well.
The guides are very knowledgeable and have great personalities, which is a necessity when trusting someone with your well being. The guides will teach you about the various paddling strokes and calls that will be required prior to hitting the first rapid. Once you have arrived at the first rapid you will disembark the boat to have a group photo and face your fears by seeing the huge rapid from the shore. Then everyone timidly gets back in the boats and proceeds to paddle out towards their impending doom, to hit the massive hydraulic wave.
If you survive this experience you will be rewarded with a nice burst of adrenaline and will get to relax and watch the other rafts as they head down the rapids screaming their heads off.
During the trip you will have the opportunity to surf the boat by paddling upstream at a wave with the goal of getting the boat stuck up on the wave as if you were surfing.
Now the wilderness tours day trip isn’t just about rafting, you will have the opportunity to seek more adrenaline and actually jump off a cliff into a nice deep section of rapids. Right before lunch you may have the opportunity to body surf down a set of green waves (Wa Ki Ki) if the water level is just right.
Wilderness Tours also offers bungee jumping, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing and of course rafting and even self guided rafting. But this is not just about white water rafting, it’s a one stop adventure shop.
The cost is from about $60-$150 depending on day of the week, part of the season and available promotions.
Checkout the video below of one of my adventures on the Ottawa River.
Seasons, water levels and Rapids:
The river is run-able as soon as the ice is gone and stops when the ice starts to form. In fact kayaking acquaintances have noted they have Kayaked the Ottawa in the snow! The commercial rafting season starts early May and goes until the end of September.
Water level in the river varies throughout the season and even on a daily basis as dams along the Ottawa open and close resulting in changes in water level. Luckily there is no minimum water level. However, certain features perform differently depending on whether the water level is high or low. Low water actually makes some rapids perform better because high water can wash out features.
There are many different features depending on which channel you are rafting, the water level and which path you take at a given set of rapids. The features are given names. Some of the rapid names are intimidating or amusing. The origins of some are based on events, some are unknown whilst other are based on myths.
- Phil's Hole
- Screaming Beaver – Named after a women fell off the raft and was pulled back on only to discover that she had lost her swim suit bottom. AS I mention below, don’t bring anything on the raft that you can’t afford to lose.
- Greyhound Bus Eater – A rapid so high that an entire grey hound bus would disappear beneath it.
- Coliseum (Coli)
- Lorne – set of rapids
- Garburator – hydraulic after The Lorne
- Wa Ki KI - body surf wave after Garburator
- Lunch Stop Waves – ‘cause that is where you stop for lunch.
- Dog Leg
The wilderness tours website (link at the bottom of the page) shows most of the rapids on a map. White water Ontario describes each of the features as well.
White Water Rafting Ottawa River
Have You Ever Been White Water Rafting?
Obviously with any water sport on its own there is a concern for drowning. Then combine rapids rocks and dozens of people and you have a greater potential for danger. However, there have been no drownings on the Ottawa River related to these Rafting Tours in the ~40 years they have operated. The rafting companies put a focus on your well being. Ensure that you have a solid footing while walking on wet rocks and follow the guide’s instructions and take your time.
River guides instruct you on safety procedures at each rapid to direct you where to swim and crews on land and in kayaks are nearby with ropes to help in the event that people fall out. And they do fall out. In addition you have some PPE (personal protective equipment) this includes a bucket (helmet) to protect your head. A life jacked and if the water is cold enough then a wet suit as well.
The guides carry a dry bag in which you can put your sun screen or any other medical supplies such as inhalers if required.
Throughout our rafting trip no one fell out of our boat other than intentionally jumping out. It is true that a boat occasionally flips on the rapids and you will be briefed to handle that scenario.
Wilderness Tours - White Water Rafting Trips
Wilderness Tours - White Water Rafting on the Ottawa. http://www.wildernesstours.com White Water Rafting Near Toronto Ontario Canada
What to wear while white water rafting?
Avoid cotton because it doesn't hold any warmth and acts as a wick to cause moisture to evaporate and you will feel wet and cold all day. I recommend renting a wet suit (they are free in May when the water is cold). If you are comfortable spending the day in the water without a wet suit, wear purpose designed wet shirts (Synthetic Capilene, it will keep you dry and warm). Wear sturdy shoes, such as water shoes. No flip flops, sandals, Crocs or open toed or slippery shoes. They will be wet and you will be walking on sharp slippery rocks. Bring sun glasses with a cord on them so you don’t lose them. Bring sun screen as you will be on the water all day and at any time in the year will get burnt without it.
What to bring and what not to bring white water rafting?
Don’t bring anything you can’t afford to lose. The raft my flip and you may lose everything on your person. Don’t wear jewelry or things that may get caught on objects while you are underwater. Do bring your water proof camera. I recommend buying or renting a GoPro camera because you can mount it to your helmet. Most of my in raft footage from filming (Olympus tough) was terrible because my handheld camera was bouncing around too much with all the chaos. Bring a towel and change of clothes for after and shower gear to rinse after a day wearing a wet suit.
There are so many options that Wilderness Tours offers for accommodations when experiencing white water rafting in Ottawa.
Wilderness tours has a camp ground on site that is right next to the main building with access to showers, washrooms, restaurant and bar, hot tub, volley ball and other recreational activities. There is a meal plan option too which is very reasonable. The camping option is always a good party. If you like a bit more of a quiet atmosphere and still want to camp there is also a more remote site that has noise rules.
If you travelled by RV to get to your white water rafting trip than you are in luck because Wilderness tours has RV services available
Cabins, Chalets and Lake House
For those that would not want to set foot in a tent there is an expanse of options for you
Wilderness tours offers a few offsite rental houses to allow guest to stay in comfort and style
Other Adventure Hubs
Traveling from out of town?
If you are travelling by flight into the area consider the Ottawa international airport (CYOW) aproximately 1.5 hour away from white water rafting ottawa. Alternatively Toronto Lester B. Pearson (CYYZ) is a 5 hour drive away.