Thousands of folks visit the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts each summer looking for things to do. Many are looking to enjoy the arts such as concerts at Tanglewood or dance at Jacob’s Pillow. Many visitors enjoy the fine outdoor dining in Stockbridge and Lenox. Everyone enjoys the fresh air and beautiful landscapes. Some visitors to the Berkshires are looking for outdoor adventure – zip lines, mountain biking, hiking, road biking, swimming, power boating and Whitewater Rafting at places like Crab Apple Whitewater (crabapplewhitewater.com).
Whitewater sports in the Berkshires are limited to some natural flow rivers that run after significant rain or the winter’s snowmelt and the region’s whitewater mecca – the Deerfield River.
The Deerfield River flows some seventy plus miles from southern Vermont through northwestern Massachusetts and empties into the Connecticut River near historic Deerfield, Massachusetts. Ten hydroelectric dams along the river make it “the hardest working river in America”. Two of these dams have whitewater release schedules for recreation.
In the summertime, thousands of people join three permitted whitewater rafting outfitters to enjoy the pristine waters of the Deerfield. Scheduled dam releases below the Fife Brook and Monroe Bridge (#5) dams fill the riverbed with fast and fun rapids for all ability levels.
Below the Fife Brook Dam in Florida, Massachusetts the whitewater varies from Class 1 to 3. Rafting outfitters advertise this section of mild and intermediate whitewater for families with kids as young as 5 and inexperienced rafters who are looking for a combination of thrills, scenery and info on local history from their Rafting Guide.
The upper Monroe Bridge dam in Monroe, Massachusetts offers a great challenge for thrill seekers and whitewater enthusiasts. Rapids range from Class 2 to Class 4 (out of 5 for commercial operators) and have fast action, big waves and drops. Outfitters require a minimum age in the mid teens for this trip and ask that all rafters be ready for some strong paddling with the Raft Guide to maximize the fun through the river gorge.
The most experienced rafting outfitter on the Deerfield River is Crab Apple Whitewater. Crab Apple is a three generation family business with operations in several New England states. Having run the first commercial trips on the Deerfield in 1989, Crab Apple has a comfortable riverside base camp, the best outfitting equipment, a fun-loving Staff and always promises a delicious cookout overlooking the river after rafting. Photographers follow all trips and rafters can check out photos of themselves after every trip. Find Crab Apple at www.crabapplewhitewater.com and 800-553-7238.