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Whitewater Boating in Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests

Experience the challenge of conquering the rapids -- take your family and friends whitewater rafting in Pennsylvania. Bring your own raft or kayak, or use a licensed concessionaire to guide you.

Boaters must abide by both the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s boating regulations and the regulations of the state park or forest district in which you are boating.

Whitewater Boating in Pennsylvania State Parks

The following Pennsylvania State Parks offer whitewater boating opportunities in Pennsylvania. Some of these state parks have shuttle services for boaters. See each state park page for specific rules related to whitewater boating at that state park and a list of licensed concessionaires.

Zoom in on the map using the zoom tool on the left. Clicking on a park in the map will reveal an information box with a listing of amenities in the park and a link to the park homepage.

Lehigh Gorge State Park

The Lehigh River carves through the park in a steep-walled canyon. It is one of the most scenic rivers in America and features Class II-III whitewater boating. Explore Lehigh Gorge State Park for more information and a list of licensed concessionaires.

McConnells Mill State Park

Slippery Rock Creek is a Class II to IV river, depending on water level. Spring and fall are the best times for boating. Boaters generally start from Rose Point (US 422 bridge), outside of the park boundary, and boat to Eckert Bridge, covering 2.5 miles with a portage around the dam at the Old Mill. It is illegal to “run” the dam.

Boaters must stay at least 50 feet from the boil at the base of the dam. An additional 3.5 miles of whitewater from Eckert Bridge to Harris Bridge can extend the run for boaters to 6 miles. Rafts, canoes, and kayaks are not available for rent in the park. Explore McConnells Mill State Park for more information.

Nockamixon State Park

Water is released from the dam on the first full weekend of November and the third weekend in March. The release provides an opportunity for whitewater enthusiasts to experience the thrilling run down Tohickon Creek to the Delaware River. Class IV rapids are sometimes achieved. Explore Nockamixon State Park for more information.

Ohiopyle State Park

A focal point of the area is the more than 14 miles of the Youghiogheny [yaw-ki-gay-nee] River Gorge that passes through the heart of the park. The “Yough” [yawk] provides some of the best whitewater boating in the Eastern U.S. as well as spectacular scenery.

There is a fee to reserve a launch time at Ohiopyle State Park. Explore Ohiopyle State Park for more information and a list of licensed concessionaires.

Ralph Stover State Park

When high water conditions exist, Tohickon Creek offers a challenging course for closed deck canoes and kayaks. Water releases from Lake Nockamixon occur on the first full weekend of November and the third weekend in March. Explore Ralph Stover State Park for more information.

Worlds End State Park

Whitewater boaters may use Loyalsock Creek at any time of the year, although the area by the swimming beach is closed during the summer. The best water is March to May. Due to rapid fluctuations in water level, kayakers should inquire about conditions before coming to the park. The stream is NOT suitable for open canoes. Explore Worlds End State Park for more information.

Whitewater Boating in Pennsylvania State Forests

Whitewater boating occurs mostly on the white water stretches of state forest streams. The most notable of which is the Pine Creek through the Pennsylvania Grand canyon where private companies typically provide the rafts.

Whether you’re interested in a three-day excursion or a two-hour easy paddle, any time spent on Pine Creek will be unforgettable. The water is best for canoeing durinf March, April, and May, but heavy rains may permit passage at other times of the year.

Most of the creek is considered Class 1, and is easily navigated by experienced paddlers; however, there are more challenging Class 2 and 3 rapids in some areas.

Tiadaghton State Forest and Tioga State Forest have launch sites, parking, and camping facilities along the Pine Creek.

International Scale of River Difficulty

The classes below are the American version of the rating system used throughout the world. This system is not exact. Rivers do not always fit easily into one category and there may be regional interpretations. This information is from American Whitewater.

Class I: Easy -- Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Self-rescue is easy.

Class II: Novice -- Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers.

Class III: Intermediate -- Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges is often required. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can occur.

Class IV: Advanced -- Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. May be large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. Rapids require “must” moves above dangerous hazards. Self-rescue is difficult.