The Saco River: Fun for the Whole Family in North Conway
Looking for fun outdoor activities while in the North Conway area? Look no further than the beautiful Saco River! Known for its sandy beaches and crystal clear water, the Saco River provides outdoor recreation opportunities for the whole family. Local outfitters offer canoeing, kayaking, tubing and rafting trips lasting from several hours to several days. Enjoy swimming, fishing and camping along the Saco River. Time spent on the river creates lifelong memories, and brings families together.
Tubing, Canoeing & Kayaking on the Saco River
Tubing is a relaxing way to enjoy the Saco River and the surrounding White Mountain scenery. Floating downstream on an inflatable tube is just plain fun! Located in Conway, NH, The Saco Canoe Rental Company is one of several local outfitters that can get you on a tube. The shortest tubing trip offered is 1.5 miles long, and you can do the trip multiple times for no extra charge. Shuttle service and life jackets are provided, and the trip ends back at the company’s base, at your car. Along the way you will find sandy beaches, rope swings and plenty of fun. Longer tubing trips are also available, and rental equipment includes two-person tubes, cooler tubes and dry bags. Saco Canoe Rental also has canoe and kayak trips, and will even shuttle your dog. Visit them online at www.sacocanoerental.com.
Canoeing is the most traditional way to travel down river. Canoes are usually paddled by two people, one each in the bow and stern. There is enough room in a canoe for a child, lunch cooler, and gear. The paddler in the rear is responsible for steering, while the person in front provides power and keeps an eye on the best line to take downstream. Teamwork and communication are keys to tandem canoeing, and allow both paddlers to hone their navigational skills.
Kayaks are also popular on the river. Kayaks come in solo and tandem models, and are paddled with a double-bladed paddle. Kayaks have a lower center of gravity than canoes, and are perfect for anyone who wants to paddle their own boat. Kayaks weigh less than canoes, and are easy to paddle. Steering is intuitive, making them perfect for kids and first timers.
Northern Extremes Canoe and Kayak (www.northernextremes.com) is an outfitter conveniently located in North Conway, right behind Dunkin’ Donuts on NH Route 16. Northern Extremes offers canoe and kayak rentals, as well as tubes. Trip lengths are 3, 5, or 7.5 miles and the outfitter features full shuttle service, mid-week discounts, and all the accessories and amenities needed for a fun filled day on the Saco River. Northern also has a private 12 acre beach on the river with a picnic area, beach volleyball and spectacular views. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.
Safety and comfort are important on any river trip, whether it is a small day trip or a large multi-day excursion. Safety starts with the personal flotation device (PFD) also known as a life jacket. The PFD should be worn at all times. Adjust your PFD so that it provides a snug fit. After swimming, check your life jacket and tighten up the straps. Comfort is important on the river, too, so make sure to bring sunscreen, water shoes, sunglasses, food, drinking water, a hat, and a big smile!
Guided Trips & River Outfitters
Guided trips are a great way to enjoy the river. Guides offer instruction, local history, and security as you learn new skills and explore new places. Guides answer questions such as “Where are we?”, “What mountain is that?”, “How long until lunch?”, and “How deep is the water?”. Guides are also notoriously funny, and are experts at making sure everyone on the trip is comfortable, safe, and having fun. The companies below offer guided trips on the Saco and other area rivers.
Outdoor ESCAPES New Hampshire, based in Conway, offers a wide variety of guided outdoor trips, with an emphasis on education and learning new skills. Trips are by reservation only, and ESCAPES has lots of options that allow you to leave your car at home. Guides will meet you at the airport, bus station, or train depot, and start your personal adventure right from there. Learn more at www.outdoorescapesnewhampshire.com.
Great Glen Trails (www.greatglentrails.com) is another option for guided trips. With headquarters at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road in Gorham, NH, Great Glen features half day and full day guided flat-water trips. Great Glen also offers whitewater kayaking instruction for those who wish to learn to navigate whitewater rapids. Popular trips include several sections of the Androscoggin and Magalloway rivers.
RaftNH is an outfitter based in Gorham, NH that specializes in whitewater rafting trips. They provide all necessary gear, including helmets, paddles, wet suits and life jackets. Trips range from mild to wild with class II to class IV whitewater adventures available on the Androscoggin and the Rapid rivers. RaftNH is dog friendly and their sister company offers rolling dog sledding adventures during the summer and snow excursions in the winter. Visit their website at www.raftnh.com for more information on river trips and sled dog excursions.
Get in touch with a local outfitter and start planning your next river adventure today! Let them know that you heard about them on www.northconwaynh.com.