Most Incredible Waterfalls for Kayaking from Most Incredible Waterfalls for Kayaking

Most Incredible Waterfalls for Kayaking

Running waterfalls is an extreme sport that is not  for every paddler. It takes unique skills, years of practice and the right kind of weather. The biggest challenge is staying in the boat after the fall. This is hard to do when you are plunging at 60-90 miles per hour, hitting a huge volume of water. It’s no surprise that kayaking over waterfalls is considered the Holy Grail of the sport.

Palouse Falls in Washington

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Palouse Falls is at 189 feet – that is 17 feet higher than Niagara Falls. In 2009, professional kayaker Tyler Bradt set a new world record paddling over Palouse Falls. You can see the run in this video. Palouse Falls remains as one of the magnificent and lasting remnants of the glacial floods, known as the Missoula Floods, at the end of the last ice age, according to the Washington Trails Association.

Rainbow Falls in Hawaii

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This is a 80-foot drop into a pool of water surrounded by stunning landscapes and foliage. Rainbow Falls is easily accessible from downtown Hilo on the Big Island. Extreme kayakers Pedro Oliva, Chris Korbulic, and Ben Stookesberry, took the plunge down the falls in 2013 for a TV show. They got lucky because it hadn’t rained in a while. When it does, which happens often, Wailuku River makes the falls wider and muddier.

Gorilla, Green River in North Carolina

Paddlers run down the narrows section of the Green River in the Green River Race every year in November. Four distinct drops make up the vast Gorilla. From the bottom up they are the Nies' Pieces, Butt Cruncher, the Speed Trap, and Zoom Flume, which is the main drop, according to Boating Beta.

Anaconda Falls in Brazil

Ben Stookesberry and Rafa Ortiz dropped 102-foot falls in 2.66 seconds. The velocity on impact was 58 mph. You can see the footage here.

Ohiopyle Falls in Pennsylvania

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This is not the most difficult run on the list but it’s a thrill nevertheless as it’s open just one weekend a year during the Over-the-Falls Festival, scheduled for October 1.. Ohiopyle Falls stretches the entire length of the Youghiogheny River and is quite powerful. It drops about 20 feet, even though it looks shorter during periods of high water, according to Uncovering PA.

Aldeyjarfoss Falls, Iceland

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Iceland is home to many incredible waterfalls, more than any other country on the planet. Kayaking over Aldeyjarfoos, an off the beaten path 65-foot drop, is an epic experience, as you can see in this video. “Tumbling through a narrow passage into a wide basin, the concertinaed black basalt columns provide a stark contrast against the thrashing white foam, making it often considered one of Iceland’s photographic gems,” according to Visit Husavik.

Alexandra Falls in Canada

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Alexandra Falls is the first of two large waterfalls in  Twin Gorge Falls Territorial Park. In 2004, extreme paddler Ed Lucero plummeted 105.6 feet over Canada's Alexandra Falls, setting a new world record for the highest plunge in a kayak, according to Outside Online. “It felt like I was on a conveyor belt that had just speeded up. Then I go over and I've got my head tucked fully down, ready for impact. That was probably the calmest moment of my life. I didn't hear the waterfall anymore,” he said.

Cascade Falls in British Columbia

Photo Modified: Flickr / mikesa10 / CC BY 4.0

The less adventurous hikers can see the 108-foot scenic Cascade Falls, located Northeast of Mission, from a suspension bridge that crosses the river. In 2008, Paul Gamache conquered it, creating a new world record at the time. “The gnarliest part was the belay above the falls. I was belayed 40 feet in my boat into a pool above the lip with the water pushing into an undercut cave,” he told Canoe & Kayak Magazine.

Gluteal Mash in West Virginia

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A rock garden leads into the approach to 30-foot Gluteal Mash on the North Fork of the Blackwater River. Gluteal Mash is a big falls that can be a lot of fun but also very dangerous, according to American Whitewater. “The pool at the bottom is not very deep and there have been several broken ankles as a result of penciling in. The water at the bottom of the falls is not especially aerated, which has caused several injured vertebrae from landing too flat.”

Big Banana in Mexico

In 2010, world-class paddler Rafa Ortiz plunged down the second-highest waterfall ever run – the 128.6-foot Big Banana. You can see a video of his drop here. The fall is at about 90 mph. Most waterfalls are scouted from the sides, but Big Banana flows out of a canyon, meaning that Rafa had to scout the waterfall while dangling from a tree.

Salto Belo in Brazil

Another extreme paddler, Pedro Olivia, risked his life by paddling straight over the edge and dropping a remarkable 127 feet off the Salto Belo falls in central Brazil, as the Daily Mail reports. He fell head first for 2.95 seconds before hitting the churning waters below at 70 mph. You can see the heart-stopping moment in this video. This run broke the previous 108 ft. record.