Whitewater calls to the adventurer in all of us, inviting us to test our limits with adrenalin-pumping excitement as we dip, twist, and turn over roaring rapids.

In the hands of experienced guides, whitewater is not intimidating; it’s adventure sporting at its best, safe yet exhilarating, the ultimate do-it-yourself outdoor adventure where you decide your limits.

Ontario’s Highlands is where you’ll find epic whitewater to explore, all summer long. Read on for five whitewater adventures that will appeal to everybody.

Weekend of Whitewater: Owl Rafting

For more than 40 years, OWL Rafting has been thrilling rafters on the Ottawa River and are pros at how to get the most out of a whitewater adventure. After a day spent on the water, rushing down rapids and swimming in the Ottawa River, the hearty meal served during the pontoon boat ride back to base at the end of the day will taste amazing.

Choose your thrills: Pile into a raft built for 12 with OWL’s two-day Adventure Raft experience, or step up the adrenalin with their six-person Sport Raft experience. Want something gentler? OWL has compiled a one or two-day soft adventure rafting experience to help you ease into the whitewater world.

Accommodations: OWL offers on-site camping, glamping, or you can rent a cabin or cabana. Most meals are included with each package.

Running the Madawaska: Madawaska Kanu Centre

Great for the whole family, the Madawaska Kanu Centre is where you can learn and play at the same time. Book a rafting voyage on the Madawaska River or take one of MKC’s paddling courses to learn how to run it like a pro by canoe or kayak. Relax around the fire at the end of the day with friends or family (or strangers who will soon become friends!).

Choose your thrills: Choose between a five-day whitewater adventure, a weekend experience, or something geared to your interests (think a week of yoga, programming just for women). Rafting on the Madawaska takes you down five kilometres of tumbling whitewater for a fantastic family-friendly daytrip outing.

Accommodations: MKC includes delicious and locally-sourced meals in all their packages. Choose from on-site camping and glamping, or lux it up a bit with a shared cabana or lodge, or a private retreat.

One Stop for Adventure: Wilderness Tours

Welcome to your one-stop shop for all everything water-related, from whitewater rafting and kayaking to sea kayaking, SUPing, or just hanging on the beach for the day. Play beach volleyball on the shores of the Ottawa River or hike or cycle the trails in National Whitewater Park, encompassing 5,000 acres of rugged wilderness. At the end of the day, the Timber Sauna will pleasantly relax your tired muscles.

Choose your thrills: This is a choose-your-own-adventure spot – long weekender, family adventure, high adventure day trip or a gentle run down the Ottawa River. Enjoy full access to the resort and all its amenities.

Accommodations: Bring your own tent and take advantage of the scenic campsites or book one of the on-site cabins or even a room in the Manor that can sleep up to 12.

Skills Development: AO Boatwerks Paddling School

You can not only get outfitted at one of Algonquin Outfitters’ Ontario’s Highlands’ locations, you can also learn how to use your equipment navigating the Gull River in Minden, or sign up for an adrenalin-filled rafting journey that will leave you soaking wet and breathless.

Choose your thrills: Learn how to paddle at the paddling school with one of their half-day or full-day introductory to whitewater paddling courses. If you’d rather have someone else do the hard work, their two-hour whitewater river adventure could be your jam.

Accommodations: Rent a cottage from Ogopogo Resort, located only a short drive from Boatwerks, and relax on the beach at the end of a day on the water, or unwind with a more gentle paddling experience on Mountain Lake.

Gear Up for DIY

Maybe you don’t want a pre-curated experience and just want to hit the water, your style? Find the gear you need to be safe, fast, and fabulous on the river at these outfitters (most outfitters service a wide area of the region):