When is the Best Whitewater Rafting?

Casey Bryant Jones

Rafting season info for the Ottawa River, Ontario-Quebec Canada.

The Ottawa River is a world-famous rafting river and is within convenient driving distance of Ottawa, Toronto, or Montreal. 

This section of the Ottawa River is known as “The Rocher Fendu” (Split Rock) section. A unique geography of maze-like channels means the river is laid out more like a ski hill than a normal rafting river. There are always options on how to get through easy, medium, or challenging.

But when is the best time to go rafting?  

Considering this is Canada, winter is obviously off the table. But should visitors plan on Spring, Summer, or Fall? The truth is that they are all great times. It will come down to exactly what you’re looking for. 

Read more to find the answer:

Spring Rafting: May & early June

Highest Water Levels, Biggest Waves, Most route options.

When are the rapids biggest? This is a question we get a lot.

If big is what you’re looking for, come rafting in May and early June.

Big exciting runs like Garvin’s Chute, the Greyhound Bus Eater, or Coli West are typically “in” during this time.

Spring isn’t just for huge waves though. With the higher water levels, many alternate routes open up (normally dry channels during summer) that can provide a fun gentle ride through the Rocher Fendu rapids. 

Early Summer: Mid June to early July

Longest Days, Warmer Weather, Lingering High Water.

By mid-June, the spring runoff water levels are typically subsiding. This doesn’t mean the rafting is getting tame though – not even close!

Some of the most exciting rapids appear this time of year in the form of the Waikiki waves, the Lunch Stop Waves, or “main-line” Coliseum. These rapids are classic big fun waves that will send the rafts up and down like a rollercoaster.

Join us on Canada Day weekend for fireworks and lots of Canadian spirit!

Peak Summer: July and August

Hottest Weather, Warmest Water

Peak summer is when most groups come rafting. Hot days and very warm water make for very comfortable conditions for getting in the water and having fun.

While most rivers will start to dry out in the summer, the Ottawa River is such a large river that this is never even a remote possibility.

The Ottawa River in the summer at its “lowest flows” holds substantially more water than most rivers’ spring conditions. It is the 2nd largest river in eastern Canada (after the St-Lawrence) after all!

Late Summer: September

Water Still Warm, Fall Leaf Colours Peeping

September is the best-kept secret of the rafting season. 

While all too many people have mentally finished summer, September is the second summer on the Ottawa River. Water temperatures continue to be blissfully warm and water levels are exciting and fun.

This time of year can be perfect for school groups, corporate outings, or romantic getaways. Fewer crowds means you can feel like you’ve got the place to yourself. 

Autumn: September to November

Outdoor Education, Adventure Training, Events & Weddings

Algonquin College’s Outdoor Adventure program chose Wilderness Tours over 20 years ago to be its program delivery partner.

This is an exciting 2-year program that combines business education with the cutting-edge skills of an array of outdoor industry sports such as Rafting, Canoeing, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, Snowboarding, Skiing, Ice Climbing and more.

School groups will find plenty to do to meet a variety of learning outcomes. Lazy River Tubing, Trail Hiking, and interesting geologic formations from the last ice age round out a fantastic Outdoor Education day.

Wilderness Tours locations and facilities are also available for your perfect event. We can host weddings or conferences of up to 100 people.

Multiple Channels means lots of options!

Easy, medium, or high intensity options are always available.


Now is the time to plan your next trip

Pick your dates • Pick your trip • Give us a call or book online

Call us at 1-888-723-8669 or Book Online one of our most popular trips:

We are located in the heart of the Ottawa Valley, where the Ottawa River squeezes its way  through a maze of rapids, channels and islands. Our new location, just 10km upstream, is now closer to the action. Guests now have direct access to the best the river has to offer and the chance to see just how magical it is the Paddle Home!

Wilderness Tours
1260 Grants Settlement Rd
Foresters Falls, Ontario
K0J1V0, Canada

What makes the Wilderness Tours experience unique from our competitors is the combination of whitewater rafting with access to our incredible resort and it’s amenities making for the premier experience on the Ottawa River.

Wilderness Tours resort boasts not only the premier Resort Location on the Ottawa River but also is the first company to provide Whitewater Rafting experiences, established in 1975, on the Ottawa River.

From mild to wild, there is a whitewater rafting adventure for everyone here at Wilderness Tours.

Our beachfront is where the fun is! Whether you’re young or at heart there’s an option for you here. Choose your own adventure from our inflatable water park, stand-up paddle (SUP) boards, sit-on-top kayaks, or soak up the sun in one of our conveniently located Muskoka chairs

Our resort location provides our guests with direct access to over 17km of hiking trails from our riverside resort! Hike through hardwood and cedar forests, and explore caves along the way. Last but not least, enjoy the incredible vistas featuring the mighty Ottawa River.

One of the newest additions to the Wilderness Tours Resort is our Downhill Flow Mountain Biking trails. With roughly 10km of down hill trail and access to BORCA mountain bike trail network within 5 minutes of our main resort. there is an option to connect almost 60 km of trails without ever using a shuttle.

Don’t own a Mountain Bike? Rent one of our from $40 per 2hrs.

The centre of gravity at the Wilderness Tours is the Rafter’s Pavilion and is where you can find our fully licensed restaurant and bar. Enjoy hearty meals, live entertainment, access to our bar, and our retail shop!

Directly adjacent to the Rafter’s Pavilion are our Sport Courts and Games area. With options from ball hockey, basketball, beach volleyball, bocce ball, and corn hole the choice is yours!

Protecting and revitalizing the Ottawa River has been the mission of Wilderness Tours.

This vision has been applied to our new Timber Sauna. This 150-year-old timber cabin has been revitalized into a sauna. The Timber Sauna also features the most exclusive site at the Park Village, the riverside deck for you and your group.

Perfect for groups, this space can be rented for an hour and a half at a time.

Why should I choose Wilderness Tours?
Great question, and one we take very seriously. Probably the easiest way to answer it is with a simple fact – more people raft with Wilderness Tours than all our competitors combined. Wilderness Tours also employs more full time professionals than everyone else combined. The quality of our staff is incomparable. Add on great food as well as wonderful resort facilities and programs. That is why Algonquin College chose Wilderness Tours to run its very popular 2 year diploma program in Outdoor Adventure.

This looks awesome! Can I bring my (insert group type) to Wilderness Tours?
Yes, we love hosting special groups here at Wilderness Tours. We’ve hosted all types of events from weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, corporate retreats, family reunions, to school groups.

Check out the highlights from the 2023 Carleton University Eng Frosh event at Wilderness Tours!

Are there opportunities to partner with WT?
Absolutely, yes! Wilderness Tours’ main Resort Center is 650 acres with lots of opportunity for entrepreneurs seeking to run their own business under the Wilderness Tours umbrella. Ideas like paintball, zip lines, massage, mini-golf and driving range are a few ideas that come to mind. These are ideas that would work at Wilderness Tours but we don’t want to do them ourselves. If you have a proposal, please send it to [email protected].

I’m coming up on a weekend, is there anything at night?
Stay up to date with all that is going on at Wilderness Tours by visiting our Calendar of Events so you can plan to join us on our themed weekends. Throughout the Summer enjoy live entertainment and a DJ on Saturday night every weekend in May/June/Sept and every night during July/August.  Additionally, our sport courts have lighting and are open in the evening.

Do you have a beer store nearby?
Actually, we have a full bar where you can let us get you whatever you want while you enjoy the sunshine on our licensed deck. If you really want to purchase alcohol, there is a store about 20 minutes away but will need to be consumed at your campsite.

Can I work at Wilderness Tours?

Yes we’d love to have you join our team! Do us a favour first, take a look at one of our many different job opportunities you’re not just limited to one role at Wilderness Tours!

Wilderness Tours Resort Map 2023

Need some more information? Check out our FAQ’s section or send us an e-mail at [email protected] 

Sierra Team at Wilderness Tours Renfrew County Paramedic Services

County of Renfrew Paramedic Service Sierra Team Training

Sierra Team Training | Renfrew County Paramedic Services

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As residents of the County of Renfrew, the Wilderness Tours team would like to thank the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service Sierra Team for their service to our community.

Wilderness Tours is proud to have hosted the Sierra Teams Winter Rescue exercises at our raft trip riverside lunch site on the mighty Ottawa River.

Curtis Farrell, Deputy Chief of Operations for the County of Renfrew Paramedics Service, noted, “Renfrew County is fortunate to have an abundance of outdoor adventure space. The ongoing training of the Sierra Team is an essential component to ensure the safe and effective response to residents and visitors who find themselves in distress while in one of these remote locations within the County of Renfrew. The Sierra Team prides itself in being able to bring emergency medicine right to the patient regardless of the location. This is only accomplished through rigorous “real life” training opportunities.”

Providing physical spaces and training courses for Forces: Fire, Rescue, Police, and Military, is a core offering of Wilderness Tours.

If your team is looking to enhance its capabilities: Read More Here

Forces Training
Paddle Boarding Ottawa River Ontario Canada Wilderness Tours

University College Weekends at Wilderness Tours

Calling all University and College Students!

It’s WT’s University and College Weekends! We have two incredible options depending on the level of adventure you are looking to add for the weekend. 


Why wait for frosh week next September, start early with our University Weekend. Bands, Beer, and the best whitewater rafting river, it doesn’t get much better than this. If you pay tuition somewhere then pick a weekend to come and visit the Ottawa River.


Give us a call at 1-888-RAFT-NOW to reserve your group for this discount.


If you already have friends who have booked you are not able to add to their reservation from this page you will have to call to add to their reservation to ensure you are rafting together.

Package 1

Our Getaway Package is our most popular program.  You get:

    • 5 Hearty Meals

    • 2 nights of camping, accommodation upgrades available, and full use of our legendary facilities

    • All for only $237.30 / per person

    • DJ and party on Saturday night


  • Getaway Package

    30% off Getaway Package with a valid student ID!


Note: Prices are subject to 13% HST & $15/day/person Park Pass

*Holiday Rate,  **Spring & September Discount – Opening Weekend – June 23rd, 2024 and After Labor Day Weekend.

Choose Arrival Day to Begin Booking or Quote

Package 2

Our Resort Package is a great way to save some extra $$ You get:

    • 5 Hearty Meals

    • 2 nights of camping, accommodation upgrades available, and full use of our legendary facilities

    • All for only $209.30 / per person

    • DJ and party on Saturday night

  • Resort Package

    30% off Resort Package with a valid student ID!


Note: Prices are subject to 13% HST & $15/day/person Park Pass

*Holiday Rate,  **Spring & September Discount – Opening Weekend – June 23rd, 2024 and After Labor Day Weekend.

Choose Arrival Day to Begin Booking or Quote