Home to some of the most exciting whitewater in the Northeast, the Deerfield River in Charlemont has become a sought after destination for whitewater rafting adrenaline junkies and family thrill seekers alike. While the heavy rains of early July have subsided most rivers in the region have calmed to a leisurely flow as their waters make their way from the summits of the Berkshire Mountains down to the Atlantic, but the Deerfield continues to dish out explosive whitewater on a daily basis, thanks to regularly scheduled upstream dam releases. That means that on almost every day of the summer you can discover world class whitewater rafting and kayaking right here in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.
Being a mecca of whitewater means there are plenty of guiding operations to choose from on the Deerfield. A half hour across the Mohawk Trail (Rte 2) from North Adams, you’ll find the adventure town of Charlemont, the Deerfield River and three top-notch whitewater guides.
Zoar Outdoor, Moxie Outdoor Adventures, and Crab Apple Whitewater all offer a variety of whitewater rafting and kayaking trips on the Deerfield. Rafting trips range from mellow, family trips for kids as young as five years old on class I and II rapids, to group trips on class II and III rapids for kids as young as seven, and action-packed class IV trips on the Dryway section of the river, for adventurers 14 and up. Since the best action comes with the release of the dam, each operation launches at about the same time each day — 10:30 a.m. for class II, III and IV trips, and later afternoon family trips once the water flow has quieted down.
Each guiding operation also offers inflatable kayak (funyaking) trips if you prefer a different mode of river excitement, but these tours stick to the calmer waters.
Depending on the operation, most whitewater rafting trips are either full-day, or half-day tours, but some offer overnight trips with cabin tent accommodations. Check out each tour operator to see which itinerary best suits your interest. The important thing is to get out there and check out one of the Berkshires’ greatest water resources — the Deerfield River.