Outbound Collective logo

10 Bucket List Rafting and Kayaking Adventures

Planning your big adventure trip for 2019? MT Sobek's got you covered.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

True to the their rafting roots, MT Sobek is gearing up for an amazing year on the water. As well as the first ever commercial rafting descent of Iran’s Sezar River, company co-founders Richard Bangs and John Yost are leading a 50th anniversary rafting trip in Siberia! Plus, with new permits to run the Colorado River through Utah’s Cataract Canyon, MT Sobek has created five different ways to experience it. Here are their top 10 picks for the 2019 season.

1. Middle Fork of the Salmon River – Idaho, US

This 100-mile rafting adventure through Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is the best thing to do in the summer. The perfect combination of exciting Class III-IV rapids and lazy meandering makes it great for all the families and adrenaline junkies alike. What we love most is how you can tailor your experience each day, sit back in the oar boat, paddle in the raft, or go solo in an inflatable kayak. Plus, incredible side hikes to beautiful waterfalls, numerous natural hot springs, prospectors’ huts, and ancient Sheepeater pictographs. Above all, the guides help make this one of the greatest river tips in the country!

2. Alsek River – Alaska, US

Want to float past icebergs and glaciers through some of the most pristine wilderness in the world? Then this is the trip for you. Led by top guides Christa Sadler and Kevin “Thirsty” McDermott, you’ll tackle Class II-IV rapids as you raft 160 miles from Kluane National Park in Canada’s Yukon to Alaska’s amazing Glacier Bay National Park. It’s a mesmerizing ride that lets you experience the raw nature of the north. It also includes an exciting helicopter portage over thundering Turnback Canyon. Read more about their Alsek adventure here.

3. Colorado River through Cataract Canyon – Utah, US

MT Sobek is stoked to be offering their newest flagship trip in the US: Cataract Canyon. This trip simply amazing and encompasses the wildest part of the Colorado River as it grows to its largest uninterrupted flow before reaching Lake Powell. Enjoy long, flatwater sections with side hikes to Ancient Puebloan ruins and petroglyphs as well as legendary, class III-IV (V at high water) desert whitewater in the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Try out stand-up paddleboarding in the mellow sections and camping on huge, sandy beaches beneath desert skies, all under the leadership of MT Sobek’s veteran guide Pauly Borichevsky and his expert crew. Choose from 5-day7-day11-daywomen’s or family options!

4. Sezar River – Iran

This is the rafting trip of a lifetime! Following in MT Sobek’s long history of first rafting descents around the world, they will be exploring the wild Sezar River in Iran. After 20 years in the making, Brian Stevenson and Don Johnson will lead the first ever commercial rafting descent of Iran’s Sezar River in May 2019. Voyage 70 miles through the rugged Zagros Mountains, navigating Class II-V rapids through the unknown. This is expedition boating at its best with likely portages around un-runnable rapids as well as incredible, runnable whitewater through sheer-walled gorges. Truly a unique opportunity to be the first! Check out more from Brian on the MT Sobek blog here.

5. Sayan Oka River – Russia

Celebrating 50 years of exploration, this special rafting adventure is being led by the founders of Sobek Expeditions–Richard Bangs and John Yost. These river legends are masters of exploratory rafting, having led more first descents on rivers around the globe than anyone else. In 2019, they are tackling the Siberia’s Sayan Oka River with its Class II-IV whitewater and pristine wilderness backdrop through the gorgeous Orkho Bom canyon. Enjoy amazing fishing opportunities and beautiful camps before finishing in crystal clear, 5,387-foot deep Lake Baikal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6. Rivers of Central Chile

Experience the wonders of central Chile’s remote waterways, including the Cautín, Liucura, Maichin, Trancura, and Fuy Rivers, on this new MT Sobek adventure. Spend nights at boutique hotels and eco-lodges set in the heart of nature, then paddle your way through thrilling Class II—IV rapids—all in the company of MT Sobek’s expert river guides. Rejuvenate at hot springs, visit ancient lava fields in Conguillio National Park, and explore lakes and canyons over 8 magical days.

7. Tatshenshini River – Alaska, US

The Tatshenshini is a true classic that begins in the snow-clad mountains of the Yukon and meanders past sweeping glaciers to the sea. Over this 136-mile run you’ll pass through the largest concentration of grizzly bear in North America, not to mention bald eagles and wildflower-speckled Alaskan tundra. Float past large, calving glaciers as the ‘Tat’ joins the Alsek River for its final 50 miles to the take-out in Dry Bay, part of Glacier Bay National Park.

8. Hulahula River – Alaska, US

The Hulahula is the quintessential arctic river trip that runs through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska. From its headwaters in the Brooks Range, the river flows through tundra and a breathtaking canyon on its way to the Beaufort Sea. Amazing wildlife viewing opportunities in this vast wilderness including, porcupine caribou, musk oxen, grizzlies, and a variety of coastal birds. Experience the wonders of this swift-flowing river as you raft almost 100 miles on thrilling Class III-IV whitewater–perfect for paddling enthusiasts–and enjoy hiking and camping in pure Arctic wilderness.

9. Talkeetna River – Alaska, US

Most people know Talkeetna as a quaint Alaskan town and gateway to Denali, but few know about the Talkeetna River! In the shadow of Denali and the Talkeetna Mountains, this river gives you the best of everything.  Fly to put-in on a bush plane and relax at the first night’s camp, fishing and taking in the views.  Then it’s time to tackle many miles of near continuous class II-IV whitewater through boxed in canyons and gorgeous Alaska scenery.  This trip is considered by many as the best all-around whitewater river in Alaska.

10. Back for 2019 —The Zambezi!

The thundering Zambezi River is home to some of the most exhilarating Class III-IV rapids in the world! MT Sobek is legendary on the Zambezi, after first rafting it in the early 1980s, and their new adventure covers 40 miles through the Batoka Gorge—featuring incredible white-water rapids such as “Stairway to Heaven” and “Ghostrider.” To amplify the trip further, they’ve included a 2-day canoe safari to view wildlife on the Upper Zambezi, a sunset cruise, and a dip in the Devil’s Pool, which laps over the edge of UNESCO-listed Victoria Falls. It’s an amazing combination of activities in the heart of Zambia.


Interested in any of these rafting and kayaking adventures? Click on the images to learn more!

Photos courtesy of MT Sobek 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


10 Things you need to do in Baja

wyld honeys

Journey to Wyoming’s premier snowmobiling destination: Togwotee Mountain Lodge

Samuel Brockway

Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

Meghan White

A peek through God's window

Heather Arnold

Big Bend Bound: Crafting Your 3-Day Adventure

Erin Newman-Mitchell