By Amy Bayer
The thrill of water rushing toward you on a hot summer day has plenty of appeal, but the thrill of rushing toward that water in a small rubber raft while navigating between rocks can be daunting when you've never tried it before.
If you're just looking to get a feel for the experience, summer offers some of the best times to try. The water levels are still high enough for an adventure, but not so high that the rapids will whirl you out of control. In fact, summer rafters often wear swimsuits to take an occasional dip on the less demanding trips.
Here are four whitewater rafting trips to experience this summer on the Wolf and Peshtigo Rivers in northeast Wisconsin.
The Peshtigo River is known as one of the longest continuous stretches of whitewater in the Midwest. Wildman Adventure Resort has private access to the river along the rapids so you can hike around and scout out the surroundings before hopping in your raft.
During summer you'll have the opportunity to spend time splashing around. Everyone will be in individual rafts that allow you to more easily maneuver around rocks, and your guide will demonstrate how to surf the small waves, swim rapids and play in the waterfalls. The trips generally take between one and two hours and are an amazing way to explore the Peshtigo.
At Wildman's one-stop adventure shop, you can also try your hand at ziplining, rock climbing, and paintball if you want to keep your adventuring going once you're out of the water.
The Wolf River has undeveloped shorelines, which enable rafters to enjoy a wilderness experience in just a day. Herb's Wolf River Raft Rides, located at Buettner's Wild Wolf Inn in White Lake, offers longer five- to six-hour or shorter two- to three-hour trips. They even provide free transportation to the starting point. Herb's reassures beginners that "everyone makes it, not because of how well they paddle, but in spite of how they paddle."
Lunches are available by advance request for the trips. Each raft holds two to three people, so bring your family and friends and make this trip an annual vacation.
Shotgun Eddy's – White Lake
Shotgun Eddy's offers a variety of whitewater rafting trips based on experience and water conditions. For beginners, the M-Bridge Trip is recommended. Paddlers of all ages and abilities will enjoy the ride. The entire trip is two and a half hours, and you and your fellow rafters will travel six miles down the Wolf River. Shotgun Eddy's provides drop-off and pick-up.
As you start to get more comfortable rafting on the river you can keep coming back to Shotgun Eddy's year after year to try trips that require more experience and go farther down the river
Thornton's Whitewater Rafting Resort & Campgrounds – Athelstane
Located in Athelstane, Thornton's specializes in providing you, your family and friends with a thrilling and memorable experience. Daily guided rafting trips and are guaranteed to include crashing whitewater rapids, gentle stretches of river and some of the most scenic wilderness in Wisconsin. Their guided Peshtigo River Summer Trips are fun for beginners and are run in one- to four-person rafts.
Once you're done with your adventure you can enjoy dinner at the Thornton's Resort & Bar, and stay the night at one of their two- to three-bedroom cabins or set up camp at their 18-acre campground.
Note: Water levels change dramatically depending on snowmelt and rainfall. Check with your rental company to get a better idea of the difficulty of the rapids when planning your trip.
Prefer to float down the river on an inner tube instead? We have eight perfect rivers for that.