Ottawa River Rafting

Written By: The Planet D

“The water is huge right now” our Ottawa River whitewater rafting guide KT said with a giddy smile. “I love hitting it big, so we’re going to try to catch every big rapid we can.”

The Ottawa River is world-renowned for its big white water. Guides from all four corners of the earth come to play in its rapids. It seems that wherever we’ve been in the world, one guide or another has been on the Ottawa River. And with good reason, it is some of the best whitewater rafting on earth!

White Water Rafting Ottawa River

whitewater rafting ottawa river

For the next two days, we’ll be conquering rapids with OWL Rafting and we’re not afraid to admit, we’re a bit nervous!

Staying at Owl Rafting in one of their chalets was an excellent way to relax and unwind before hitting the waves.

About Owl Rafting

whitewater rafting ottawa river sign

With Muskoka Chairs lined up on the lawn overlooking the calm portion of the Ottawa river, a sandy beach, an all-inclusive meal package and hot showers, it’s the perfect weekend getaway for people looking to escape the city of Toronto and face the world-class rapids.

ottawa river rafting lodge
The Resort

We suited up in thick wetsuits and a paddling jacket to help protect us from the chilly waters.

Even though Dave and I have done the polar plunge in both Antarctica and the Arctic Circle, we weren’t too keen on getting in the cold the water, so we hoped and prayed that we didn’t have any boats capsize on the river today.

White water rafting in Ottawa

whitewater rafting ottawa river nerves

I am always nervous before every adventure and today was no different. There’s that fear that you’ll fall out of the raft or capsize. But once we got on the water, all my nerves disappeared and I was ready for a great day on the raft.

2 Day White Water Rafting Ottawa

We signed up for a two-day rafting trip and each day was completely different.

Day one started on a larger 12 person raft and day two took us out on a small sporty raft.

bigger raft owl rafting ottawa

I thought that the larger raft would have been less exciting, but it was actually a crazy ride. It seemed to hit the rapids with brute force and we skyrocketed into the air. Surprisingly, the small raft seemed a little tamer. Or maybe I was just a little braver on the second day.

whitewater rafting ottawa river group

When rafting the Ottawa River, it isn’t long before you hit the first set of rapids. As soon as we launched the rafts, we started practicing our strokes and listening to our guide’s commands.

During our quick training session, we could hear the rapids fast approaching. Just a few minutes into the trip, we were lining up for our rundown white water.

owl rafting ottawa river

We hit every big wave and the boat felt like a wild amusement park ride. KT wasn’t joking, the water was huge and she loved hitting it big.

Nobody fell out but we all got soaked. Surprisingly the cold water didn’t feel as bad as we expected. It helped that the sun came out just as our excursion began.

Enjoy our Ottawa White Water Rafting Video of the Ottawa River

The next couple of hours went on with more thrills and spills and facing some of the most gigantic rapids we’ve seen before. Our largest run came when we hit The Staircase.

Ottawa rafting the staircase

This run had guides get out of their rafts to act as safety for rafters going through one by one. “Only one boat at a time can run this one” We were warned, “this is not a rapid you want to fall out of.”

The Staircase

So we were ready to hang on for dear life. After going through one last set of instructions we set off for The Staircase.

KT yelled at us all to paddle hard. We went in with all our might and as soon as we hit the rapids she yelled “Get down” hanging on to the rafts ropes, we went through the massive rapids.

At one point we got stuck and felt like we were surfing for a bit.

ottawa river class 5 rapids

I was at the back nearest to KT and felt a surge of water go over my head knocking me down and if I didn’t have a grip,

I’d be out of the boat for sure. When I looked back to see what was going on, KT was gone!

Lost our Guide!

She had catapulted out of the back of the raft and was dangling by her foot. All the guides on shore scramble to help out and in no time we were in a quiet eddy and KT was back inside the boat laughing like it was just another day at the office.

ottawa river whitewater rafting
Our fearless leader

We all whooped and hollered, the biggest beast had been conquered and it was an awesome thrill.

Day 2 on the Ottawa River

whitewater rafting ottawa river nerves
Back on the River

The next day we moved to a sport raft. We faced all the same rapids again, but this time, our tiny raft was manned by only four of us and our guide.

The giant rapids were going to look a lot bigger today.

whitewater rafting ottawa river leader

Between the two days, I think we enjoy the sport raft more than the large raft.

The larger rafts are definitely a better choice for first timers because you feel more safe and secure, but if you do decide to do a weekend of rafting, make sure to get a taste of both.

whitewater rafting ottawa river rapids

I was terrified of what was ahead of us on Saturday morning, but by the time Sunday came around I grew more excited with each set of rapids.

Surfing the Rapids

whitewater rafting ottawa river splash

I even joined along in the surfing that I’ve always hated so much. Surfing is when you paddling into a standing wave and stay in the wave for as long as they can.

surfing while whitewater rafting ottawa river

We tried surfing when whitewater rafting in Australia, and we were stuck in it for ages.

I thought I was going to drown and vowed to never do it again. When it came time to surf on the Ottawa River, I chickened out on day one and watched from the sidelines. Day two, however, was a whole different story!

surfing the ottawa river

Our guide explained to us that in Ottawa, the water is so big that you tend to pop out of the surf quickly unlike the smaller waves in Australia.

Here it’s a fun quick surf and you get popped out on the other end.

No worries about it not being thrilling enough though, you get to do it again and again.

rafting and surfing ottawa river

The End of the Day

Whenever we’ve done other whitewater rafting trips, the day ends on a school bus as we sit in our wet clothes for a long drive back to the main office.

With Owl Rafting, the day ends on a huge pontoon boat where a hot lunch is served as you take a beautiful 45 minute boat ride down river to the resort.

pontoon owl rafting

We basked in the sun as we ate a bbq lunch with a selection of salads and dessert. It was so relaxing.

By the time we got to the dock of the resort, we were warm and dry and all we had to do was help lift the rafts about 10 feet from the beach to the trailer.

whitewater rafting ottawa guide

Our day on the water was done and we were free to crack open a beer and watch the sun go down.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

13 thoughts on “Ottawa River Rafting”

  1. What a mighty river, by looking at their faces I can tell they are having a heck of a thrilling experience. Superb shots! Thanks for this great website and its content.

  2. What a great experience. Seems like a lot of fun. The closest I have come to water rafting is the rides at one of theme parks in Orlando. I hope to experience the real thing one day. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I just did two days of sport water rafting with OWL Rafting and I must say it was a real blast.
    Each day was different and exciting. A lot of fun on the water. Confident and competent guides who run the raft made me feel safe and confident that the raft can make it through all the challenging rapids.

    The food was excellent. The staff very helpful and always available if I had a question.

    Overall atmosphere was very friendly and welcoming. I am recommending this place for all ages – it’s never too late to challenge yourself! My site: pc games

  4. When i see this post i feel like a real experience .Very Informative and interesting site for travel lovers…….thanks

  5. All your posts recently are reminding me of home. You see I am from Ontario and actually only an hour away from the Ottawa river. I have haven’t been back in awhile now and am definitely missing it. Every summer me and friends would spend a whole weekend whitewater rafting the Ottawa river. The last time we went was for my best friends bachelor party and it was a blast. The Ottawa river is actually some of the best rafting I have every done in my life and is actually known around the world.

    Great post! Keep em coming.

  6. Your rafting experience looks and sounds incredible! Gorgeous shots! Each and every frame has captured all the rafting moves and emotions so closely. Commendable!