Whitewater rafting travel company OARS has released its forecast for 2015, in which it says low snowpack in the west of North America could make it a good destination for beginners and those with a yearning to explore places that might otherwise be notoriously too rough.
Using snow telemetry (SNOTEL) data from the US Department of Agriculture that measures the snowpack data from river drainage basins, OARS says the best conditions will be on the Chilko River in British Columbia, Canada.
Further south, in the US, Idaho's Main Salmon and Snake Rivers and the Colorado River near Cataract Canyon in Utah and the Arkansas River in Colorado will provide some of the best family-friendly adventures this year, according to the report.
"Peak flows won't be super high, but will be much more friendly to paddlers and less intimidating for families," says OARS Idaho Manager Curt Chang. "Additionally, spring rains and cool temps are expected to bring good flows until August."
Although snowpack levels are below average in these areas -- the Salmon River drainage is at 69 percent of average and Cataract Canyon is at 80 percent -- controlled dam releases will add to the flow, OARS guides noted in their report.
OARS Moab Area Manager Steve Kenney says rafters should expect Class III-IV level conditions at Cataract Canyon in May and June, referring to the International Scale of River Difficulty in which Class VI represents the most extreme, expert conditions.
"I have spent 13 seasons in Cataract and the levels of 20-30,000 CFS [cubic feet per second] are some of my favorite times to be boating," he says. "The large features in our biggest rapids make for great hits, but don't create the high anxiety of Class V conditions."
Those seeking a Class IV-V whitewater experience should try the upper Arkansas River, where drainage is just shy of 100 percent, according to the report.
European hotspots for whitewater rafting include the SoÄ¨a River in Slovenia, which in 2008 became the country's first destination of excellence as noted by the European Commission. Slovenia Adventure Holidays offers numerous options for rafting the SoÄ¨a River.
It's rivaled by the rivers in the Tyrol region of Austria with its 120 kilometers of rivers that offer a variety of conditions ranging from friendly to expert as well as a mountainous backdrop. Contact Outdoor Planet to learn more.