The Cache la Poudre River, Colorado's only National Wild and Scenic River, flows through a narrow canyon as it drops 7,000 feet from its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park to its confluence with the South Platte River. The river's unusual name is said to have come from French fur trappers who were caught in a snowstorm in the 1820s and had to hide (cache) their gunpowder (poudre).
Fort Collins, (888) 855-8874, http://www.raftmwd.com. Poudre Splash half-day trip $49.
Sun Country Tours, Oregon
This central Oregon outfitter has several choices for half- and full-day white-water trips on three nearby rivers — the Deschutes, McKenzie and North Umpqua. Each river flows through a different setting: desert canyons, lava flows, rock spires, pines, aspens or mossy old-growth forest. Tubing and stand-up paddleboarding are other options. Sun Country also works with local resorts to create custom trips for guests. Bonus: American Airlines has added daily direct flights from LAX to Redmond/Bend.
Bend, Ore.; (800) 883-8842, http://www.suncountrytours.com. McKenzie River half-day trip $82 per person, $76 for kids ages 6-12.
Salmon River Rafting Co., Idaho
Under one name or another this outfitter has been around since the mid-1950s. Current owner Wayne Johnson has been a river guide for 40 years, 30 of those on the Salmon. The company runs week-long camping trips through late August and then switches to one-week adults-only trips through the end of September.
Salmon; (877) 734-6099, http://www.salmonrafting.com. Eight-day trips from $2,200 per adult.
Canadian Outback Adventures & Events, British Columbia and Alberta
"We're having absolutely no problems with drought," said Philip Keen, director of corporate development. Rafting trips run on the Elaho, Cheakamus and Squamish rivers in the Coast Range and the Kananaskis, Bow and Athabasca rivers near the Rockies.
(800) 565-8735, http://www.canadianoutback.com/adventures/rafting.php. Family friendly Cheakamus Splash half-day trip $87 per adult, $59 for kids ages 5-16.
Denali Outdoor Center, Alaska
Guides answer questions about the geology, history, flora, fauna, wildflowers and whatever else rafters want to know about the area on its "scenic" (Class I and II) and white-water (Class III and IV) trips on the Nenana River. The river borders Denali National Park so wildlife encounters are always possible.
Denali National Park, (888) 303-1925, http://www.denalioutdoorcenter.com. Nenana River half-day trip $117 for age 14 and up.