America’s Baddest Rapids

My story on “America’s Baddest Rapids,” which got picked up by MSNBC, polls whitewater guides, pro boaters, and product designers to establish a list of the best whitewater rivers in United States.

Take the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, for example. This epic waterway drops precipitously from the mountains in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness Area, going from an alpine setting to the high desert. “From the put-in at Boundary Creek to the take-out near the confluence with the Main Salmon, one can experience the growth of a river from a mountain stream to a powerful force,” said Phil DeRiemer, the 49-year-old co-owner of DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking in Lotus, Calif.

DeRiemer, an American Canoe Association whitewater kayak instructor with more than 20 years of experience, also picked the archetypal North American river run, Arizona’s Grand Canyon section of the Colorado River. “The Grand Canyon is the granddaddy of multi-day river trips in the lower 48,” he said. “And while the rapids can be thrilling, they pale in comparison to the setting in which you find yourself while floating down the canyon.”

Other expert boaters, like former raft guide Ian Anderson of Glenwood Springs, Colo., chose more obscure waters, including the Upper Youghiogheny River in Maryland. Anderson’s favorite section, a cascading leg on the Upper Youghiogheny near the town of Friendsville, has a gradient of more than 100 feet per mile, creating a five-mile stretch of nearly continuous advanced and expert class IV and V whitewater.

“The low volume and technical nature of the run necessitates smaller, more maneuverable rafts,” Anderson said. “National Falls, an eight-foot drop with a gnarly hole at the bottom, is one of the highlights of this trip.”

See the full spread on “America’s Baddest Rapids” right here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19961045/

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Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.

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