Best Rafting And Tubing Near Washington DC

July 20, 2013 8:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Few places can offer both the relaxation and excitement of a river. From a leisurely drift along its waters to an extreme thrill ride, there is fun to suit every taste and every age. If you’re searching for the perfect spot for your next rafting or tubing adventure, look no further. Here are some of the area’s best locations.

Patapsco Valley State Park
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043
(410) 461-5005

The Patapsco River provides a clean and tranquil place to have a fun tubing experience. Rent or bring your own tube and enjoy the scenery of one of Maryland’s first state parks as you drift along the densely forested river. Bloede Dam, named after Victor Gustav Bloede, a German immigrant and entrepreneur, provides a great starting point, but the river is accessible in many areas. So grab your gear, along with some sunblock, and hitch a ride to tranquility. Bring along supplies for a picnic, and when you arrive at your desired location, break out the vittles and enjoy a family picnic in the park.

Related: America’s Best Gardens And Parks

Mather Gorge
Great Falls Park
9200 Old Dominion Drive
McLean, VA 22102
(703) 285-2965

For a jolt of excitement, enjoy the thrilling white waters of Mather Gorge. Named after Stephen Mather, the first Director of the National Park Service, Mather Gorge is one of the most historically important whitewater sections of the Potomac River in the country. The gorge is flanked by tall rock cliffs, and from Great Falls to Difficult Run Rapids, it contains various classes of whitewater rapids. Class I rapids typically have small rough patches of water. Class II contains some areas of rough water and may contain rocks. Class III involves whitewater, and small waves and drops. At Class IV, the whitewater contains medium-sized waves, possibly rocks and sizeable drops. In Classes V and VI, the waves, rocks and drops steadily increase.

Potomac River

Dubbed “The Nation’s River” and designated as one of the American Heritage Rivers by President Bill Clinton in 1998, the fast-paced thrill of the Potomac is sure to get your juices flowing. The Potomac is the fourth largest river on the Atlantic coast and offers Class III rapids sections for an adventurous rafting trip with numerous access points. The river flows into the Chesapeake Bay and supports over six million people who live within the Potomac watershed. So it’s only fitting that this all-important body of water is also a major source of recreation, relaxation and sheer fun. So get ready for a white-knuckled whitewater river ride.

Related: Best Places To Go Fishing In Washington DC

Shenandoah River
Shenandoah National Park
3655 Highway 211 E.
Luray, VA 22835
(540) 999-3500

The Shenandoah River is another great locale for both tubing and rafting. At a little over 55 miles long, it’s a spot frequented by locals. The river’s varying depths provide riffles and ledges that keep your tubing trip interesting, as well as determines the speed of your vessel as it floats down the river. The river also has rapids for rafting at different experience levels, including Compton’s rapids — considered a Class II rapid. Other portions of the river travel along the Massanutten Ridge mountains and provide a more serene route past national park land and private homes.

Kevin Don Porter is the author of MISSING — a creepy, yet humorous, mystery novel. Visit his website at

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