There are over 3,660,000 miles of rivers in the United States, many of which offer scenic views and access to a variety of wildlife species.
Of course, there’s a lot more to rivers than beautiful scenery and animal watching. Rivers are also one of nature’s best playgrounds, with both fast-flowing and tranquil waters providing the perfect setting for a range of river activities. But what activities can you do on a river?
From relaxing boat trips to extreme water sports, there are plenty of options to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of the different river activities you can try.
As one of the most relaxing river activities around, fishing tends to attract those looking for a moment of solitude out on the water. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t enjoy a day of fishing with your buddies. Going out on the river as a group means you can take turns steering the boat along the river in search of the best fishing spots.
Although, you should make sure to check the local recreational fishing regulations before you head out. Some river authorities prohibit fishing altogether while others only allow fishing for sport, not for hunting.
If you like the idea of relaxing on the water but aren’t keen on fishing, a boat cruise is one of the best things to do on the river. What’s more, this is a fun river activity that the whole family can take part in.
There are plenty of different riverboat cruise options too. Depending on the size of your group, your preferences, and abilities, you may want to rent a boat and explore the river by yourselves. Many river-based locations across the country have organized cruises you can join if you like the idea of a more social activity. Or, you can even rent a private boat and contract a local sailor to show you all the best sights along the river.
For those of you who are looking for ways to get your adrenaline pumping, whitewater rafting has to be one of the best things to do on the river.
But, not all river locations are suitable for practicing this extreme sport. Slow-moving wide rivers rarely provide the rapids necessary for whitewater rafting. Instead, you’ll need to head to a section of the river with fast-moving water to help propel the inflatable raft and ensure you get the ride of your life!
These kinds of rivers can be unpredictable at the best of times, but seasonal changes can make some rivers or sections of rivers especially rough. As such, make sure to head out with an experienced instructor and wear the protective gear provided.
Kayaking is a river activity that works well on both tranquil and rough waters. If you’re heading out onto a calm, slow-moving river, you’ll have plenty of time to admire the wildlife and can even fish from a kayak.
In contrast, the kinds of rapids that are perfect for whitewater rafting are also ideal for extreme kayaking. This form of kayaking is a lot faster moving and can be very dangerous if you’re not familiar with the twists and turns of the river. Hidden rocks and fallen branches can also cause you to capsize. Because of this, it’s best to join an organized kayaking river trip with an instructor to guide you.
While kayaking involves using a double-ended paddle, you use two single-blade paddles when canoeing. Canoes are also a lot more open in structure than kayaks. This makes canoes ideal for exploring a tranquil river but unsuitable for anywhere with fast-moving waters.
Canoeing can still be an energetic river activity as you’ll need a lot of strength to propel the canoe along the river. Unless, of course, you install an electric trolling motor for canoe propulsion to give your arms a rest and allow you to relax while you enjoy the river scenery.
For daredevils wondering what to do on the river, riverboarding has to be the most extreme way to enjoy fast-flowing waters.
If you’ve never heard of riverboarding, it involves clinging onto a personal flotation device while the rapids take you down the river for an exhilarating experience you’ll never forget. Since you’re right there in the water, it’s essential to wear a thick neoprene suit and knee pads. These protect you against the cold water and any hidden rocks, while flippers on your feet help you change direction as you attempt to beat the current and conquer the rapids.
The real-life equivalent of floating along a lazy river at a water park, tubing is another fun river activity to try.
As the name suggests, it involves riding on top of an inner tube in the river. Depending on your preference, you can either choose towed tubing or free-floating. In the towed version, a motorboat pulls along the tethered tubers as they ride the river and enjoy the scenery. In free-floating tubing, the current helps the tubers to move down the river untethered, while paddling with their hands allows them to steer and change direction.
Tubing is usually more of a laid back way to enjoy the river, although whitewater tubing is also possible on faster-flowing rivers if you’re looking for more excitement.
What Activities Can You Do on a River?
If you were wondering, ‘what activities can you do on a river?’, this list of varied river activities is sure to have answered your question.
The truth is, there are so many ways to enjoy spending time on the river. Whether you’re looking for a way to relax and kick back with some solo time or want to experience the thrill of extreme water sports, the river offers something for everyone.
For more travel tips and adventure advice, check out our other blog posts!