Each year, the spring thaw transforms leisurely meandering rivers, creeks, and streams into turbulent and powerful forces of mother nature. Fascinating to watch, this exciting display of rushing water can occupy you for hours at a time and is the perfect place to have a picnic lunch while taking in the show.

This spring, take the time to visit one of these Ontario’s Highlands’ rapids and marvel at the power and beauty of nature.

*Remember to be cautious when approaching a waterfall or whitewater area. Stay safely distant from the water and pay attention to your surroundings.

Fourth Chute

These rapids are located right across the street from Bonnechere Caves and swell dramatically with the spring thaw as they descend across the rocky escarpment of the Canadian Shield. Bring a lawnchair to take in the show.

Location: Fourth Chute Road, Ottawa Valley

Pakenham Rapids

As the Mississippi River flows beneath the historic Five Span Stone Arch Bridge in Pakenham it creates a series of rapids that are gentle in summer but become turbulent and powerful in spring. These rapids are accessible, and can be viewed right from your car.

Location: Pakenham, Lanark County

Vanderwater Conservation Area

In spring the Moira River pours down the riverbank through the Vanderwater Conservation Area and over a series of limestone steps. While you’re here, take a hike through the property’s network of trails then have a picnic lunch beside the rapids.

Location: Thomasburg, Hastings County

Palmer Rapids

Bring a lawnchair for this one as Palmer Rapids is popular spot for experienced kayakers to test their paddling skills on the Madawaska River. The rapids themselves are located downriver from the Kamaniskeg Lake Dam.

Location: Palmer Rapids, Ottawa Valley

Gull River Rapids

Each spring these rapids become a playground for whitewater canoeists and kayakers from all over. The Minden Wild Water Reserve is located on the shores of the Gull River and you can access the rapids from the reserve if you purchase a membership that allows for day use. Otherwise there is a boat launch just south of the Horseshoe Lake dam that can be used.

Location: Horseshoe Lake Road, Haliburton Highlands