Whitewater Kayaking Down The Pemi River

Whitewater Kayaking the Pemi
Whitewater Kayaking the Pemi
New Hampshire, United States

Charging forward through a wall of spray, I make a quick S-turn ducking my head away from a boulder as the drop approaches. Powerful whitewater churns 10 feet below.

Just seconds from powering through my very first Class 5 whitewater rapid, and I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous. It’s a steep waterfall chute known to local kayakers as Thank You Ma’am.

The rapids are part of the upper Pemigewasset River in New Hampshire.

“You’re kayaking down THAT?!”

A 10 year old boy stares at me, eyes wide, as I peel off a popular hiking trail lugging my boat down into the forest. He’s not the only one watching. A small crowd has gathered along the covered wood footbridge above the falls.

They weren’t planning on witnessing some nutjob go over it in a kayak.

Kayaking the Pemi
The Pemigewasset River
Cayman Jack
Cayman Jack Margaritas

Whitewater Kayaking

Paddling through swift-moving whitewater in a little kayak is one of my favorite adventure sports. Rafting is fun too, but with whitewater kayaking, you’re calling all the shots yourself. It’s you against the turbulent water.

Running rivers in a kayak is like riding a wild rollercoaster.

You get tossed side-to-side by waves and pushed around by strong currents, all while attempting to maneuver past boulders and avoiding dangerous river obstacles like sieves and strainers.

Testing your skills & endurance against the awesome power of nature.

Kayaking Rivers in New Hampshire
Over the Falls!
Kayaking Rivers in New Hampshire
Liquid Rollercoaster

The Pemigewasset River

Located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Native American named Pemigewasset River runs 70 miles south from Franconia Notch where it meets up with another river, the Winnipesaukee.

It’s long been a favorite area for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. While a majority of the rapids are rated Class II, there are a few decent Class III, IV, and even V sections.

I actually grew up nearby in the Campton/Plymouth area, and worked a summer job that included dropping off and picking up kayakers along The Pemi (the river’s nickname).

Anytime I’m back in the area visiting family, I’ll check water levels on American Whitewater, looking forward to rain like a skier prays for snow.

Kayaking in New Hampshire
Whitewater Kayaking the Pemi
Kayaking New Hampshire
Cheers To Adventure!

Crafted By The Journey

I was in New Hampshire for my sister’s wedding (congratulations Lindsay!) and decided to run the river a few times. Mostly on my own, as friends & family have normal jobs that don’t allow them to go kayaking during the middle of the week!

However I did drag my sister along on the weekend to kayak a new section of the Pemi I hadn’t explored before, and we packed a few Cayman Jack Margaritas for the trip.

It rained a couple days earlier, so the river was flowing strong at over 700 CFS (cubic feet per second).

We had a wonderful day playing in the fast water under blue skies.

To celebrate our successful river run, we finished the afternoon with a few cans of that refreshing Cayman Jack margarita made with organic limes and proposed a toast… cheers to adventure! ★

Watch Video: Whitewater Kayaking New Hampshire

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Travel Planning Resources For The Pemi River

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Find cheap flights on Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine to find deals on airlines. Also make sure to read how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

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Book Accommodation

Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent apartments from locals on Airbnb. Read more about how I book cheap hotels online.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.

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Charging forward through a wall of spray, I make a quick S-turn ducking away from a boulder as the drop approaches. Powerful whitewater churns 10 feet below. Click through to read more...
Charging forward through a wall of spray, I make a quick S-turn ducking away from a boulder as the drop approaches. Powerful whitewater churns 10 feet below. Click through to read more...

READ MORE TRAVEL TIPS

I hope you enjoyed my guide to whitewater kayaking down the Pemi River! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Cayman Jack

Any questions about kayaking in New Hampshire? Are you planning trip there? Drop me a message in the comments below!

THANKS FOR READING

Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 9 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (7)

  1. I loved this video! ww kayaking is such hughe fun!
    Hmhm waterfalls always are mysterious…
    I’m happy you were not alone over there, surely not in level IV or especially level IV sections and after some (heavy?) rain.
    Yes, people always stay staring at you on a wooden bridge when they know you ‘re going to take a waterfall or some serious rapids. Drama tourists, hèhè! :-) I yell “hello” before the wall of spraying water takes over ;-)
    Small question: what material did you use to film this or did your sister make the movie and photos?
    Well, this is a tip to remember when I come to America. Are there (good)white water kayaks for rent somewhere along the riverside? (I have a Jackson at home).
    Did you do the Soca river & Korithnica in Slovenia, or the Isarco in Italy, or Durance etc. in France? And let’s talk about kayaking in Norway… oh my god!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Trust me, I was pretty scared the first time. Getting caught underwater in a hole is not something I’m looking forward to. Luckily this one was pretty tame as far as waterfalls are concerned.

      • Matthew you are my idol. You are doing everything that I feel like I can only dream of doing. You are truly amazing and I am obsessed with your blogs.