Ottawa Tourism

Ottawa City Rafting: The ultimate summer group activity

Whitewater rafting in downtown Ottawa with Ottawa City RaftingLooking for a unique Ottawa group activity for your summer convention or meeting in Ottawa? Ottawa City Rafting has it!

Going into its third season this summer, Ottawa City Rafting is operated by veteran outdoor adventure company Wilderness Tours and offers Ottawa’s only urban whitewater rafting experience. This means that Ottawa is one of the only cities in the world where you can raft through the downtown core.

Located at just a 10 to 15-minute drive west of Ottawa’s downtown core, this rafting excursion leaves from the beautiful Britannia Beach and invites rafters aged five to 95 to bounce and float down the historic Ottawa River almost to the Canadian War Museum. Just hop into your raft and retrace the steps that Aboriginal Peoples and voyageurs fur traders took before you. Each raft can accommodate about 10 to 12 passengers.

Once you’ve settled into your raft, leave the beach with your trusty rafting guide and paddle as a group to the nearby Deschênes Rapids. Your group’s adrenaline will start pumping as you hear the rumble of the approaching whitewater. It’s unlike any other sound. When you’re in the rough water, listen to your guide’s instructions and paddle together as a group to navigate the ancient rapids. Whitewater rafting is the ultimate team building activity!

From here, it’s time to relax. This 2.5 to three-hour excursion goes through a total of three Class I and II rapids that are separated by long stretches of flat water. But don’t worry, your group won’t have to paddle the whole way. On the calm water, City Rafting simply ties multiple rafts together and powers them down the river with the help of quiet, eco-friendly electric motors.

The stretches of flat water are the perfect opportunity for your group to mingle, get a bit of sunshine and here’s the best part, take in lovely views of Ottawa’s charming downtown skyline. City Rafting even brings a cooler full of cold drinks, so that everyone can stay cool and hydrated on the river, as Ottawa’s summer days can get quite hot.

This float on the flat water is also a great time to take your camera out of the raft’s dry barrel and snap a few memorable photos of your group with downtown Ottawa and Parliament Hill’s famous Peace Tower in the background. During this time, your rafting guide will also recount the history of the majestic Ottawa River and tell you about memorable historic characters such as legendary log driver Jos Montferrand. And as the rafts float through the flat water gently, this is a great opportunity for members of your group to jump into the water and cool off.

From here, the rafts are freed so that everyone can climb back in and navigate the second Champlain Bridge rapids safely. But you and your group can choose how to experience this part of the river; opt to stay in the raft and paddle down or hop into the water and body surf down to the flat water. As this excursion features low intensity rapids, body surfing is fun and more importantly, safe.

From Champlain, it’s just a short paddle to Remic Rapids – the final whitewater spot of the trip. As you move towards the rapids, look at the right river bank where you’ll see John Ceprano’s unique balanced rock art. Throughout the warmer weather season, this local artist creates interesting rock sculptures by only using rocks found on the riverbed.

After Remic Rapids, your group will have one more opportunity to get into the water. From the rapids, the current moves through a series of small rock islands, creating a natural lazy river. Hop in the water and enjoy floating down the river along with the current. With all of the lush greenery, chirping birds and sunshine, you might feel like you’re floating down the Amazon rather than the Ottawa River.

Ottawa City Rafting operates from roughly the end of May to the end of August. Individual trips and private group trips are available. Also, each participant will receive everything they need; a high float life jacket, a helmet and of course, a paddle. Now, you might be wondering how to get back to Britannia Beach at the end of the trip? City Rafting has a shuttle service that will take you and your group back to the starting point.