Answers to your  white water rafting and lodging questions.

When it comes to planning an adventure, there is so much to consider.   At Penobscot Adventures, we realize potential guests use the web as a planning tool.  Below are links to pages that contain the answers to the most common questions asked about our whitewater and outdoor adventure trips. For others, connecting to a real live person is a necessary step in planning a trip.  Outfitter and Adventure Expert, Maureen is available at or call 1-877-356-9386. She can answer any and all questions.

Trip Planning and Booking

White Water Rafting Maine, Tyler and Jesse having a great day with their crew.

White Water Rafting in Maine, Tyler and Jesse having a great day with their crew.

This is a question we get a lot and a tough one to answer, beautiful, warm days happen throughout our our season. High water and great flows can happen anytime, our river is dam controlled.

what to wear rafting

The mural of what to wear rafting.

Perhaps one of the most often asked and hardest to answer question is what to bring white water rafting in Maine? Here’s a small whitewater rafting packing list of essential items to bring on your rafting or river boarding trip at Penobscot Adventures.

Basic Whitewater Rafting Packing List

One-Day Rafting Trips and Adventures

  • Must Have Supplies
    • Swimsuit
    • Quick-drying shorts
    • Synthetic clothing: fleece, polypropylene, Capilene, etc. (spring/fall)
    • Sunscreen
    • Water bottle
    • Sunglasses with strap
    • Secure footwear: old sneakers, water shoes, sandals with ankle strap – no flip-flops
    • Prudent personal medication: EpiPen, inhalers, heart medication, etc.
  • Optional Comforts
    • Waterproof camera (disposable cameras work great)
    • Personal wetsuit, splash jacket/pants
    • Dry clothes for the ride home

Multi-Day White Water Rafting Trips and Adventures

  • What You Need
    • Swimsuit
    • Quick-drying shorts
    • Synthetic clothing: fleece, polypropylene, Capilene, etc.
    • Sunscreen
    • Water bottle
    • Sunglasses with strap
    • Secure footwear: old sneakers, water shoes, sandals with ankle strap – no flip-flops
    • Prudent personal medication: EpiPen, inhalers, heart medication, etc.
    • Long pants/long-sleeve shirt
    • Closed-toe camp shoes/hiking boots
    • Warm jacket and warm top
    • Raincoat
    • Winter hat
    • Insect repellent
    • Flashlight/headlamp
    • Sleeping bag/ground pad
    • Tent
    • Toiletry kit
  • Well Equipped Guests Will Have
    • Waterproof camera (disposable cameras work great)
    • Personal wetsuit, splash jacket/pants
    • Dry clothes for the ride home
    • Reading/journal material
    • Day pack for hikes
    • Musical instruments
    • Binoculars
    • Field guides: birding books, etc.
    • Limited amount of personal beer/wine/spirits
    • Small pillow
    • One or two trash bags/large zip-locks for packing wet gear

Wet Suit Rentals:

On the spring and fall rafting trips we need you to wear a wetsuit while on the river. You are welcome to rent one of our suits or bring one of your own. Rental of a full wetsuit is $12.00, a half is $6.00, spray tops are $6.00 and wetsuit boots are $5.00. The whole suit is $20 a savings of $3.00. Bring wool or fleece socks.

Please don’t forget to bring a change of dry clothing and footwear for your trip home!

These directions are to the Penobscot River Rafting Base

Directions from the South:

Take Maine I-95 North to Medway (exit 244), turn left coming off the ramp onto Maine Route-157. If your coming from Greenville or The Forks use the directions at the bottom of this page.

Directions from the North:

Take Maine I-95 South to Medway (exit 244), turn right coming off the exit ramp. If your coming from New Brunswick, Canada, use the Houlton Border Crossing instead of the St.Stephen Border Crossing. The trip is much quicker than coming from St.Stephen.

Once off the Highway:

Once your off the highway and on Route-157, go about 15 miles to Millinocket. Along the way you will drive through the towns of Medway and East Millinocket. You will see several signs that say Baxter State Park, follow these signs through and out of Millinocket. You’ll pass the Katahdin General Store, go under a railroad bridge, and then pass the Saw Mill Bar and Grille on your right, just before you drive out of town. Once out-of-town travel about 8 miles and you will come to the Big Moose Inn on the your right. This is just before The North Wood’s Trading Post, also on your right.

Check-in at the Inn if you are staying with us, or follow the signs around-the-back of the Inn to our base. This is Penobscot Adventures Base Camp, were all of our trips except the Upper Penobscot River Rafting Trip meet. Meet us at the base camp 7:30am for all of our rafting trips except the Upper Penobscot River Rafting Trip

Directions from Greenville, The Forks, ME thought Guilford, ME:

From the central Maine area the best route to Millinocket is not the highway. Here are the travel directions from the three most popular summer vacation spots in Maine:

From The Forks, ME:

Take Route-201 South to Bingham, ME. Turn right onto Route 16 East after the bridge over Austin Stream. Follow this road for 24.7 miles to Abbot, ME, turn right onto Route 15 South. Drive 3.8 miles to Guilford, ME there will be a Mobil gas station on your right. Use the directions from Guilford, ME from here on.

From Greenville, ME:

Take Route-15 South through Abbot. ME 3.8 miles to Guilford, ME, there will be a Mobil gas station on your right. Use the directions from Guilford, ME from here on.

From Guilford, ME:

Follow Route-16 East to Dover-Foxcroft then continue through to Milo. In Milo get on Route-11 North and follow it for 38 miles into Millinocket. You drive through Brownville and Brownville Junction. Get gas before you get out of town. It’s 30 miles between Brownville Junction and Millinocket with nothing in-between. Once in Millinocket turn left to follow Route-11 to Route-157. Once there use the same directions as coming from the highway.

  • Approximate Driving Times to Penobscot Adventures
  • From Portland, ME 3 Hours
  • From Boston, MA 5 Hours
  • From New York, NY 8 Hours
  • St. John NB 3 Hours
  • Moncton, NB 5 Hours


White water rafting guide “Big” Joe Paleologos.

Rafting guides love to be requested! If you had a great time with one of our guides, please request them when you come back. Let us know at the time of the booking. Some of our guides only work certain days. They can change their schedule if given enough lead time.

Try Different Trips with the Same Guide!

Raft the lower river trip with a guide. Come back and book them for a Full, Upper, or Ultimate whitewater rafting trip. Just let us know who you would like to request in the booking comments or ask Maureen when you give her a call at 1-877-356-9386.

The Lower Penobscot Whitewater Rafting Trip

The Lower Penobscot Whitewater Rafting Trip

No, there is no bottom or top weight limit, but you need to be able to fit into our gear. We have two sizes of adjustable PFD’s for children and adults. Children’s PFD’s cover a weight range from 50-90 lbs an adult jacket covers a weight range from 90 lbs to whatever weight accompanies a 57 inch chest? Our jackets adjust to that size and float anyone who can buckle it up. We have two sizes of adjustable helmet and they will fit everyone. All of our paddles are all 60″ inches long.

The real issue with whitewater rafting is are you comfortable in the whitewater. Whitewate paddling and possibly swimming is a vigorous excercise. If you have any questions about it’s suitability for you, ask your doctor. We’re great raft guides with excellent medical credentials, but we are not doctors. If your in moderate physical shape and don’t mind the water you can raft on any of our trips. If you aren’t in the shape you prefer, or aren’t feeling up to crazy whitewater try our Lower Penobscot River Trip.

Give our office manager Maureen a Call at 1-877-356-9386. She’ll let you know how it’s done.

Sometimes whitewater swims happen.

Sometimes whitewater swims happen.

Safe? –  Yes

Comfortable? – We’re not so sure.

If you enjoy the water and the outdoors, come up and enjoy a rafting trip. If your not that into the water that’s o.k.. I, Dan McDonald (the owner of Penobscot Adventures), do not really like to go swimming, but I love rafting and kayaking. So if you don’t swim, but like the water give rafting a try. We do recommend that you try our morning lower river half-day adventure. The upper river is awesome, but if you can’t swim and fall out you won’t be able to participate in your own rescue.

family summer fun on the lower Penobscot River

Sliding down our natural waterside on the Lower Penobscot River trip.

Our Lower Penobscot Rafting Trip is designed to be run by individuals 8 and up.

“The fact is that whitewater rafting with its risks is still safer than a lot of sports like riding your bicycle,” he said. In fact, the industry said last year only 10 people died nationwide on guided whitewater raft trips, out of at least 2.5 million guests.Sep 3, 2007

The Day of Your Trip

Dan dropping The Final Chute in the Cribworks rapid. Styling Class V whitewater.

Dan dropping The Final Chute in the Cribworks rapid. Styling Class V whitewater.

Penobscot Adventures Whitewater Rafting runs rapids in the Class I-V range. We have trips for families and friends, looking for adventure. We match the guide, the route taken, and the size of the raft to the whitewater being run and the crews in the boats. The difficulty of a river rapid is classified on a scale of Class I to Class VI. Class I rapids are very easy and Class VI unrunnable. Rivers are generally classified based on normal moderate water flows but during times of high or low water levels, the grade can be increased. Most commercial rafting trips, ours included,  take place on a grade I – V rivers.

How are the rapids rated?

Class I: Moving water, small waves, clear passages. (The rafts need little or no guidance.)

Class II: Easy rapids with bigger waves, the straight forward and clear. (Waves rock the raft, but very good for self guided trips.)

Class III: Many waves in the 3-4 ft range, irregular rocks, eddie, and rapids with narrow but clear passages. Guides should be in every boat.

Class IV: Long rapids; big powerful waves, boiling eddies; powerful and precise maneuvering required.

Class V: Difficult, long and rapids, following each other almost without interruption; riverbed extremely obstructed; big drops; turbulent currents; very steep gradient.

Class VI: Commercially unrunnable. Teams of experts may attempt them with shore based support.

Sawyer and rafting guest.

Sawyer and white water rafting guest.

Ask yourself this question “Did my guide do an exceptional job?”.  If you felt like they went above and beyond, tip away. A standard tip is about $5-10 dollars per person in your group. Little less for a half day, little more for a full day. If your guide did a less than stellar job, let a team member know. Your here to have fun, that’s our business. We want to be the best, help us get better.

Family white water rafting Maine.

Family white water rafting in Maine.

“Chest high to a duck” is the classic guide answer to this age old question. The answer is that the depth varies incredibly from spot to spot. The water is deepest in the rapid channels and gets shallower on the edges of the rapids. Depth should always be checked before you enter the water. Always jump feet first when entering unknown water or learn to do a swift water entry which is taught in a swift water rescue class. Your guide can teach you one for fun during the float between rapids.

rafting shuttle bus

Riding the Bus to the river.

Penobscot Adventures has buses and vans to provide shuttles for you during your trip. Every trip except the Lower Penobscot River Trip and the Upper Penobscot River Trip starts and ends at our Rafting Base behind The Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, Maine.

The Lower Penobscot River Trip checks in at our whitewater rafting base at 8:00 am in the morning. We shuttle your car out to our lunch site, by the river. Once the lower portion of the daily trip is done we have lunch and your already back at your vehicle. The rest of the day is your to explore the area. Many people go to the CribWorks to watch the rafts run Class V whitewater. If you feel like a hike, a very popular one is The Blueberry Ledges. The trail head to the Blueberry Ledges is minutes from our lunch site and your vehicle.

The Upper Penobscot River Trip checks in at the Abol Bridge Store and Restaurant. Be at the visitors parking lot by 11:30 am to catch the bus down to our lunch site. There will be guides present to outfit you and give you a trip talk about what to expect for your Class V adventure. Once we have lunch, your all suited up, and given a trip talk, we’ll ride the bus to McKay Station and then run some of the best whitewater in the Eastern half of the United States.

Our trips are either half-day or full-day and run from 7:30am-1:00pm, 11:30am-4:00pm, or 7:30-4:00.

A full day of adventure

Tyler and Jesse had a great time with their guests from St. John New Brunswick.

Sorry folks, the State of Maine doesn’t allow drinking or an inebriated guest on any Maine whitewater rafting trip. Once you get back and off the bus, it’s a different story. You can bring beverages to the slide/video show North Woods Trading Post is onsite and keeps plenty of beer and wine selection on hand.

If you need any medications between the hours of 8am-4pm bring it with you. If you need the medication at lunch you can leave it with the driver in a locked box on the bus. If you need the medication in emergency situations (like an epi-pen or inhaler) give it to your guide and they will keep it close at hand.

There are privy toilets at virtually all of our starting and stopping points during the trip. Your should be able to find a privy every 1.5 – 2 hours at the most during the trip.

Guides get paid for their day of work, but tips are appreciated if you believe your guide did an excellent job.

Did your whitewater rafting guide

  • make sure you felt safe?
  • make you feel welcome?
  • show your a great time on the river?
  • let you know what to expect throughout the day?

An average tip for a half day trip is about $5 a person, a full day trip should be about $10 per person.

At Penobscot Adventures our guides know how to swim whitewater and we’re compfortable doing it. Most people taking the Lower river trip will not swim during the rapids due to the nature of the trip, but all other trips can and do ocassionally have swimmers. Trained and ready, our guides what to give you these tips for swimming whitewater.

  1. Keep Paddling – Your guide is calling all ahead for a reason. If you stop paddling to hold on and the raft flips everyone gets to swim together. If your paddling and fall out your going to be able to get back in the raft.
  2. Stay Calm – Tell yourself your going to be OK, because your are.
  3. Keep Your Feet Up – Don’t try to stop yourself or stand up.
  4. Swim to the Boat – Self rescue is the best rescue. As soon as you hit the water, crawl (the swimming stroke) your way back.
  5. Nose and Toes – If your not going to get back to the boat, put your feet downstream, lie on your back, and use your arms to manuver. The safety boats will get you.

After Your Rafting Trip

We’re always looking for qualified staff.

Full and part-time job opportunities are available for the summer. We are seeking personable, competent, and energetic people with strong leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills to join our team in Millinocket, Maine. A neat appearance and outgoing personality is an absolute must. Spend the best summer of your life in Maine, canoe, kayak and raft an endless number of lakes and streams.

 See if you have interest in any of these Maine summer jobs.

Whitewater Rafting Guides

Penobscot Adventures is always looking for Certified Level 2 Maine Whitewater Rafting Guides. We do require that you’ve had your license for at least 2 years. If you don’t have a Maine white water guides license, take our guide training program in the spring. You get a weeks training on the river and in the classroom. For more information please call us at 1-877-356-9386.

Videographer/Photographer/Shuttle Driver

Combined positions, shuttle drivers take the daily trip slides and/or video. We provide training for these activities, but computer literacy is a must. Your day will start with lunch perpetration in the morning (your assisted by guides), then you take the daily slide show at Nesowdnahunk Falls. After that, you have a few hours to go to the lunch site and prepare lunch. Finally, you shoot the Gourge pictures and finish your day with the guides.

Bus Drivers

Qualified candidates for these positions must have a Maine Class B drivers license with a passengers endorsement. The ability to use a digital camera is also a plus, this job is strictly seasonal.

Download Employment Application

Maine State Whitewater Guide Application Form

You can check out your days picture and video show and download them here.