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Jonathan Stull | 05.17.2017

We know about the erosive power of rivers, the torrents that cascade from a lip into basaltic amphitheaters, mountains incised with the long, sinuous scar of water pulled earthward and into the ocean.

For thousands of years, rivers have carved a place in the human imagination, as well. Rivers, not mountains or oceans, cut through the underworld of Hades and had to be crossed by the dead on their way to the afterlife. The Mississippi is Mark Twain’s symbol of freedom from oppression and a microcosm of an equal society. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he not only wrested power over an empire, he conquered nature as well. Christopher McCandless was stranded behind the spring snowmelt of the swollen Teklanika River when he died in Alaska. Rivers are symbols of fluidity, embodying life and death, boundaries and connections. They are mercurial and kinetic, always in motion.

As recreationists, it’s that kinesis we are interested in. The rapids of the Arkansas River are some of the finest in the U.S., as are those that tumble unobstructed down the Klamath River in northern California. Raft the Owyhee in southern Oregon, and you will find some of the most remote, secluded waters in the West. For a truly wild adventure, float the Yukon River in Alaska. And while the East Coast Appalachians do not rival the Mountain West for scale and size, their rivers surely do, places like the Hudson River Gorge in the Adirondacks and the many rivers of West Virginia as beautiful and thrilling as anything west of the Mississippi.

Whether you float them or rest easy on their banks—in a hot spring, perhaps—this is the week to celebrate rivers during our #52WeekAdventureChallenge. Go forth and find your flow.

National Parks, Scenic Areas, and Hikes

Washington Floats

Oregon Floats

Idaho Floats

Colorado Floats

Utah Floats

New Hampshire Floats

Vermont Floats

North Carolina Floats


The Colorado River through Grand Canyon is actually in Arizona, not in Colorado, as listed by this article.
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