The Official Summer Rivers Bucket List

“Ah! That cool, refreshing feeling of immersing yourself in the cool river after a long hot hike, the thrill of white water hitting your face as you hit the rapids while descending another beautiful river – there really is little which compare to rivers in summer.

If you’re looking for a way to make the most of these warm months ahead, check out our list of summer things to do we’ve put together to help you get out there and make the most of your summer!

Take a nice relaxing float down the river

You would be amazed at all the new things you will see from the middle of a river getting a different vantage point. Discover the amazing wildlife that inhabits the river. Just make sure you always go in a group, wear a personal flotation device (PFD/life jacket) and do some research before you go to identify any roadblocks or hazards you need to wear.

Explore a wild and scenic river near you

Chattooga River |  Wild and scenic river in Georgia |  Photo by Sinjin Eberle
Chattooga River | Wild and scenic river in Georgia | Photo by Sinjin Eberle

Contrary to popular belief, wild and scenic rivers aren’t just in the west, they’re all over the country! These rivers are truly beautiful and seeing one in person is a treat! You can search for a wild and scenic river near you here.

3rd Annual Green Friday Cleanup |  Photo by Robert Coonrod
3rd Annual Green Friday Cleanup | Photo by Robert Coonrod

Participate in a river cleanup

We’ve all been there, we’re enjoying a hike on a nice day and then all of a sudden we come across a pile of trash right next to the river. It’s a sad site but you can do something about it! Take a trash bag with you and pick up the trash as you go, find a cleanup near you, or coordinate a cleanup yourself!

Learn the history of your local river!

Where does the river come from? What are the native species? What Indigenous lands does your river cross? What challenges might your river be facing right now? Are there actions you can take now to defend the health of your local river? The health of a river reflects the health of the community, we should all take the time to advocate for its well-being!

Keep in touch

We work hard for your rivers and clean water. Sign up to receive the most important water and river news straight to your inbox. You will also receive monthly news and action alerts for rivers across the country.

Take your kids for an eye spy challenge!

Pintail, Bear River, UT |  Photo credit: J. Kelly, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Pintail, Bear River, UT | Photo credit: J. Kelly, US Fish and Wildlife Service

The wildlife and biodiversity of a river is something to behold. Take the time to introduce the incredible sights of your local river to the next generation! See how many different species of birds you see during your outing, count how many different trees you encounter along the way. To make it more interactive, create a native biodiversity bingo card and see how many different types of bingo you and the little ones can get!

Watch the sunrise or sunset

We talk a lot about the beauty of rivers but if you still need convincing, go watch the sun slowly illuminate the rushing waters of your river. The sounds of the river and biodiversity slowly waking up and starting the day are amazing to see. If you’re not a morning person, wait for the golden hour later in the day. The colors of a sunset over a river can only be described as magical. As a bonus, any photo you take will look like a professional. Talk about awesome!

Go white water rafting!

Klamath River |  OARS Summer Trip |  Photo by Josh Miller Photography
Klamath River | OARS Summer Trip | Photo by Josh Miller Photography

The thrill of white water is an experience you will never forget. If you like adrenaline rush and corny jokes, book a trip to a nearby white water rafting company! Perfect for family reunions, bachelor or bachelorette parties or an exciting gathering of friends; Whitewater rafting is guaranteed to bring many laughs, create lasting memories and provide stories to tell for weeks to come.

Whether you’re traveling to a river you’ve always wanted to visit or spending the summer exploring new aspects of your local river, take a moment to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and enjoy the river in front of you. ⅔ of the country’s drinking water comes from rivers. They are home to the most incredible biodiversity and depend on hundreds of species all year round. The rivers support us on a daily basis, it is time for us to do our utmost to support the rivers as well.

PS Be sure to post your summer river adventures on social media and tag us @AmericanRivers and @TrueNorthEnergy. True North shares American Rivers’ goal of protecting the outdoor spaces we love to play in, as well as protecting what goes into your body with their plant-based clean energy seltzer.

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