About the Kennebec River
The Kennebec River is a beautiful and historic river providing one of the primary waterways in the state of Maine. The Kennebec Gorge has a rich history as a logging river and boasts a power generating station at Harris Station Dam.
The Kennebec River rafting trip begins just below the dam and then charges for 14 1/2 miles before exiting the gorge area. The rafting trips ends in the town of The Forks, Maine. The Kennebec River Gorge is divided into two primary sections, the Upper Gorge and the Lower Gorge.
The Upper Kennebec Gorge has approximately 7 miles of non-stop thrilling whitewater action. This is one of the fastest moving continuous whitewater runs to be found. Rapids in the Upper Gorge hit the Class IV mark with standing waves and large drops. With fast moving water through a narrow canyon, the Kennebec River Gorge is a perfect rafting trip for all levels of rafting experience.
The Lower Kennebec Gorge is an easier, more relaxing whitewater stretch with most rapids being Class II and a couple of Class III. Its in the Lower Gorge where we stop to have a riverside lunch and to play in the river with our inflatable kayaks. On many hot days, people can also enjoy swimming through various rapids or flat stretches in their life jackets. This is a great chance to relax, soak in the sun and beauty, talk with your guide and fellow paddlers, or engage another boat in a water fight or tug of war.
Enjoying the Rapids of the Kennebec River
Kennebec River Quick Facts
May – early October Season
Full day & 1/2 day trips available
14-1/2 miles of class II – IV whitewater
Spectacular scenary & high walled gorge
Inflatable kayaks on Lower Gorge stretch
No experience necessary
Minimum age, 10 yrs.
What to Expect
Windfall Outdoor Center starts it’s Kennebec River rafting trip from our rafting base in Jackman, Maine. We meet at the base at 8:00am and are on the river by about 10:30-11:00am. Once on the river, we challenge the rapids of the Upper Gorge (class IV). We then transition into the Lower Gorge where we enjoy lunch and play in the less aggressive Lower Kennebec Gorge.
Windfall provides you with all the equipment and instruction you’ll need as a whitewater rafting paddler. We pride ourselves on having the absolute best equipment on the river. Armed with a paddle, life jacket, optional helmet, wet suit and/or spray jacket (weather depending), you’re ready to take on the likes of rapids such as Big Mama, Whitewash and Magic Falls.
We put a highly qualified and extremely professional guide in every boat. This is another point of Windfall pride; we have the absolute best staff of any rafting company in the area. Once you’ve met your guide, you’ll be comfortable and excited about the river journey ahead.
Insider’s Tip – Our Kennebec River rafting trip is perfect for groups and organizations. Please see our Groups Specials for more information.
Your State of Maine licensed whitewater raft guide will provide you with the paddling instructions and scenarios for you to enjoy the river in the most safe and fun way possible. Our river guides are also very knowledgeable in river history and folklore. Telling river stories is one of the unwritten requirements of being a Windfall Outdoor raft guide.
After running the rapids of the Upper Gorge and floating out the rest of the river, we hop back on the shuttle bus and get back to base within 30 minutes. You can expect to be back to our rafting base by around 4:00pm. After the rafting trip, we will have photos of the day’s trip at the base. You can purchase photos to keep the memories of your rafting trip fresh in your mind.
Windfall Outdoor Center maintains state issued permits which allow us to run the Kennebec raft trips daily, unless there are unforeseen circumstances preventing us from running on a given day. Please book your Kennebec raft trips as early as possible, especially for weekend trips and prime season (July & August), as they are popular and fill up quickly.
Our Trips on the Kennebec
Full Day Kennebec River Raft Trip
The full day Kennebec River raft trip is by far our most popular adventure activity available. The trip includes both the Upper and Lower Kennebec River Gorge stretches. The upper stretch includes the class IV rapids while the lower stretch is perfect for paddling your own inflatable kayak through the smaller rapids, floating in your life jacket, soaking in the sun and just relaxing in general.
We include a fantastic and filling riverside lunch with every full day raft trip. We have our own riverside lunch spot where we enjoy a healthy wrap style lunch with all the fixings.
Our Kennebec river trips meet at our rafting base at 8:00am and return around 4:00pm. We provide all the transportation from our rafting base. We provide all the equipment you’ll need, including life jacket, paddles, helmet, spray jacket and/or wet suit, professional duty whitewater raft and a licensed Maine whitewater guide in each raft.
1/2 Day Kenneber River Upper Gorge Only
The 1/2 Day Upper Kennebec Gorge trip is perfect for those who want to take on the rapids one more day before heading out of town. This trip is typically a combined multi-day “double dip” trip. Logistically, this trip is possible because of a river access point between the upper and lower Kennebec River Gorge. You will float the first 7 miles of intense whitewater and then exit the river at the midway point.
A few things to keep in mind with this trip:
The cost for the trip is the same as the cost for the entire full day trip. The reason is that logistically the costs are the same for us. In truth, running a 1/2 day upper trip is more logistically difficult, but we can’t justify charging more for the 1/2 day trip than the full day. None-the-less, this is why if you refer to the pricing sheet you’ll see the cost for this trip the same as the full day.
By skipping the lower gorge stretch, you will also be skipping your riverside lunch. We do not have permits which allow us to setup lunch in the upper gorge. Therefore, you will have to exit the river before getting to our lunch spot.
A typical booking of this trip would include a weekend getaway where one would raft a full day on Saturday and then this 1/2 day upper trip on Sunday before heading back to town. If you have a time crunch, but you’d still like to squeeze in additional rafting, this choice might be perfect.
Our shuttle bus will pick you up and deliver you to the river take out point, not the rafting base. There is parking available at the take out point which you will park your car. This allows you for a quick escape back to the city. You can expect to be back to your car by about 1pm.
The minimum age for the Upper Gorge stretch is 10, depending on the child’s maturity and ability to manage under large white water conditions.
1/2 Day Upper
Raft the class IV Upper Gorge stretch
Departs at halfway point by 1pm
Great way to “squeeze” an extra run if you can’t get enough
Double Dip discount applicable
1/2 Day Kennebec River Lower Gorge Only
The 1/2 Day Lower Kennebec Gorge is perfect for those who need to skip the rapids of the Upper Gorge. This is typically for younger children under the age of 10 or for those who would rather skirt the larger rapids of the Upper Kennebec. The minimum age for the Lower Gorge is 7, depending on the child’s maturity.
A few things to keep in mind with this trip:
The cost of the trip is reduced to make it more affordable for families with younger children and attractive to youth groups.
The 1/2 day Lower trip includes all the amenities of the full day trip, including riverside lunch, inflatable kayaks, etc.
If desired, this trip can be combined with a light hike into Moxie Falls, the largest waterfall in the New England area. This is a perfect way to spend the time instead of waiting for the rest of the trip to make it down through the upper gorge.
Even though this trip is only a 1/2 day trip, it will still take a full day’s worth of time. The 1/2 day trips still meet at 8:00am at the rafting base. This trip will return to base at the normal time along with the full day trip.
1/2 Day Lower
Great for families with younger children
Class II whitewater
Inflatable kayaks provided
Minimum age, 7 yrs.
Big Water Kennebec Alternatives
Small Rafts Whitewater Rafting
Small Boat Rafting on the Kennebec RiverIf you’re looking for a wilder ride, requesting a small raft will get you quite a bit more splash for your buck. These 6 person rafts will take on more water and get you up close and personal with the Kennebec rapids, thus this trip should be scheduled by those with moderate paddle rafting experience, preferably on the Kennebec River.
The cost for the Small Boat Kennebec Rafting trip is more than our traditional Kennebec trip due to the ratio of passengers per guides. Please refer to our pricing sheet for more information.
Note that a minimum booking number is required in order to run a small boat trip. Each small boat must be filled with between 4-6 willing passengers. Obviously we’re not going to be sticking someone in the small raft that doesn’t want to be there. Therefore, if you plan on taking on the rapids in our smaller rafts, be sure to bring at least 4-5 other friends with you (we can usually round up one or two more yahoo’s to go along with you).
Smaller 6 person raft
Highly maneuverable – great hits
4-6 passengers per raft
Minimum age, 12 yrs.
Big Water Days
The Kennebec River Gorge water flow is controlled by Harris Station Dam, which gives us the unique distinction of having raftable river flows all season long regardless of it being a wet or dry season.
Twice per season, Harris Station performs what’s called Generator Test Day. On these two special days, the dam is opened up to allow an amazing 8,000 cfs of river flow.
If you’re looking for the best whitewater of the season, you should plan your trip around these two annual events. Please check our pricing sheet for prices and dates.
Four special release dates per season
Biggest high water releases of the season at 8000 cfs
Huge water – fast moving action!
Minimum age, 12 yrs.
Other Kennebec River Activities
Kennebec East Outlet Inflatable Kayaking
Youth Group Trip on the East Outlet of the Kennebec RiverAlong with the inflatable kayaking available on the lower stretch of the Kennebec Gorge, we also offer a full day inflatable kayaking on the Kennebec East Outlet. The East Outlet is a tributary to the Kennebec river just above Harris Station Dam.
The trip is mostly Class II rapids, which makes it perfect for diverse groups with no whitewater experience. This trip is especially popular with youth groups. The East Outlet trip includes a riverside lunch. More information on this trip is available by contacting us.