Whitewater Rafting the North Branch Dam Release

  • Dates: 2020 dates TBD
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Price: $90 (1 run)  
  • Includes: Light lunch, guide, equipment, wetsuit, shuttle
  • Location: near Bloomington, MD

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A step up from the Shenandoah / Potomac River raft trip are the rolling waves of the Potomac’s North Branch! Dam releases from Jennings Randolph Lake provide optimum levels for whitewater rafting in a pristine wilderness setting.  Ride rapids such as Top of the World and Bear Falls.  Excellent camping is just around the corner.

What a THRILLING way to experience the Summer Season!!!

Great Getaway to Western Maryland

This trip, only three hours from the Washington DC area, is nestled in the heart of the Potomac Highlands, making for a fantastic day, overnight, or weekend getaway. Rapids are continuous Class II-III+ , and the high water volumes and steeper gradient of the North Branch create waves and rollers up to four feet high. Sections of calm water permit cliff-jumping, relaxation, and swimming. Experienced guides navigate each raft along the scenic seven mile raft trip from Barnum to Bloomington.

All-inclusive Rafting Adventure

Required Minimum Age: 10 yrs old
Our all-inclusive rafting adventure features:

  • A light lunch overlooking Jennings-Randolph Lake
  • Guide in each raft
  • Shuttle to and from the river
  • Life jacket, paddle, helmet
  • Wet suits (needed on most trips!)
  • Cliff-jumping option

Our guides live for this remote and rockin’ white water rafting journey… Join them!

For those who want to make a getaway or mini vacation of the trip…check out the Camping & Lodging link just below. Frostburg, Maryland is a lively university town featuring a mainstreet with shops, bars, and restaurants.

Tour Information

  • Pricing

    • One run: $90/person

    *Add 5% amusement fee + $2.50 user fee

    Groups may be split up depending on variables such as group number, weight, and strength

    Group Discounts

    • Groups of 10-24: $5 off/person (for one run)
    • Groups of 25+: $6 off/person

    *Groups must pay collectively to be eligible for discount.

  • 2020 Dates: TBD


    *For groups of 20 or more.

    For reservations, call 301-834-9950 or book on-line

  • Included

    • Pepperoni roll or cheese roll with veggies/fruit/cookie served between trips on Saturday, and after the trips on Sunday
    • Wetsuits are included and recommended, but are dependent on weather and water temperature

    Required Minimum Age: 10 years old

    Length of Trip: Approximately 3 hours on the river plus a picnic overlooking Randolph Jennings Lake

  • Dressing for River ActivitiesWhat to wear rafting

    Most likely you will need a wetsuit for this trip due to the cooler temperatures of dam released water.
    When making a reservation, please provide your height, weight, and T-shirt size so we can get the right wetsuit for you.

    If the temperatures are in the 70s or above and you do not wish to wear a wetsuit, we suggest you wear the following:

    • Synthetic shirt layers (silk, Under Armour, wool, fleece).
    • Waterproof jacket.
    • Leggings (Spandex, Under Armour, fleece-lined).
    • Waterproof pants.
    • Wool or fleece socks.
    • Neoprene booties, old sneakers, or Teva-type sandals.

    *Important: No flip flops or cotton.

    Other Things You Should Bring

    • Dry change of clothes
    • Towel
    • Sunscreen
    • Water bottle
    • Glasses strap
  • Assembly Area
    We will meet participants promptly a HALF AN HOUR BEFORE THEIR TRIP TIME at the Howell Run Picnic Area at Jennings Randolph Lake. This area is about a three hour drive from the Baltimore/Washington Metro area. For clients choosing the convenience of arriving the night before the trip or staying the weekend, modern camping, cabins, and motel facilities are available in the area.

    Note: The following directions are for the dam release trip only.
    For directions to our Harpers Ferry location, please click here.

    Directions from Baltimore / Washington D.C.

    1. Take 70W to Hancock (or take 270N to get to 70W).
    2. Take 68W to Cumberland.
    3. Near Frostburg, exit onto 36 S at exit #34. Continue on 36 to Westernport.
    4. In Westernport turn R onto Church Rd. (135 W). Follow 135 W into Luke.
    5. In Luke turn L onto Masteller Rd (Rt 46). Stay on 46 for approximately 5 miles or so and turn right at the sign for Shaw Beach: Howell run Picnic Area entrance off of Jennings Randolf Rd (Jennings Randolph Lake). Go approximately one mile, following the signs that direct you to Howell Run picnic area.

    39.415297, -79.122951.
    *Before May 12th and after Oct 6th, someone will direct you on further to another area.

    General Directions

    1. Take US 50W. Follow it into WV.
    2. Take a right onto state highway 42 to Elk Garden.
    3. Once in Elk Garden, bear right onto 46 at the split, follow signs to Jennings Randolph Lake and specifically, Howell Run Picnic area.
  • What to know before you go!

    So you say you’re going whitewater rafting and you don’t know what to do!
    Here are some answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions at River and Trail Outfitters. Just follow these simple hints on these Whitewater FAQs to keep warm and have fun! Get wet, you bet!

    • Do we need any paperwork?

      Yes. Before each activity a waiver MUST be filled out. A new waiver must be filled out and signed for each day and for each activity before participating. Waivers are now available to be signed on-line or can be found under the waivers link on our website. A copy of the waiver can be mailed or faxed upon request. Minors Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor and must have a parent guardian permission form filled out prior to each activity.
    • Are videos and photos available?

      Currently we do not video or photograph on our trips, but we do sell waterproof cameras which can be purchased for our Harpers Ferry rafting trip at our store in Knoxville, MD.
    • Where do I sit to stay dry?

      The bus. You are going to get wet 🙂 If you somehow manage to get through every rapid dry, someone is bound to take pity and dump a bailer full of water on you!
    • Where can I put my beer so it does not get lost?

      Short answer: At home.
      Long answer: Save the bottled fun for after the run. If you show up for the trip intoxicated or on drugs, you will not be allowed to go and your money will not be refunded. Drunk or drugged boaters pose a serious danger to themselves, our other customers, and our staff.
    • What about my physical & medical conditions?

      Please inform your reservation specialist before arrival of any physical or medical conditions of anyone in your group. Also inform your trip leader prior to the trip. We highly recommend you consult a physician prior to participating in our activities if you have any concern. We advise all ASTHMATICS to bring their inhalers. We also advise that anyone who has allergies requiring an epi-pin to bring it.Note: We reserve the right to refuse anyone participating in our adventure activities due to physical, mental or size limitations that, in our opinion, would expose that person or group to extreme risk.
    • What are the age limits?

      At River and Trail we have suggested ages for each of our trips. Age limits will change depending on water levels and trip formats.
      Suggested Ages:

      • Rafting Shenandoah: 7 years & 50 lbs.
      • Rafting North Branch: 10 years
      • Kayak Lessons (Beginner): 8 years
      • Kayak Lesson (Intermediate): 12 years
      • Sit-on-tops & Thrill Kats: 12 years
      • Antietam Tubing: 7 years & 50 lbs.
      • Bike Rentals: 12 years
      • Hikes: 7 years

      *Minimum weight for a youth life vest is 50 lbs. Maximum chest size on an adult vest is 58 inches.

    • Do I have to wear a life vest?

      YES. Always wear your life vest. Not only does this add another layer to keep you warm, it also keeps you floating should you decide to leave the boat mid trip. Our U.S. Coast Guard approved life vests are required by law, our insurance, and our company policy. We will provide you with an approved life vest, so please do not bring one with you.
    • Should I bring my camera?

      Like you, your camera will get wet. Things also have a way of going into the river, never to be seen again. This being the case, we would suggest a sturdy strap and a waterproof camera. We do sell waterproof cameras in our outfitter store.
    • Should I bring my cell phone, wallet or car keys on the water?

      As stated above “Like you, your cell phone, wallet and keys will get wet. Things also have a way of going into the river, never to be seen again.” This being the case, we recommend that you DO NOT BRING THESE ITEMS ON THE TRIP WITH YOU unless you have a completely waterproof container. Our guided trips carry cell phones for emergency situations. We suggest that you lock your personal belongings in your car trunk and give your keys to our shop staff. Watches can be worn if they are waterproof. Keep in mind that River & Trail is not responsible for any of these items mentioned that are damaged by water if you choose to take them on the trip with you. We try to keep dry boxes and bags for cell phones stocked in our shop.
    • Can I request a specific raft guide?

      Yes.  Please let us know at the time of reservation the full name of the person you are requesting.
    • How many people to a raft?

      Anywhere from 4-6 plus a guide, this depends on water level and group size.
    • What, when and where are we gonna eat?

      On most trips between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a picnic is served riverside on Harpers Ferry rafting trips, inflatable thrill kat trips, and Antietam tubing. Food is served mid-way to ¾ way down the trip. A typical picnic consists of water, fruit drink, fried chicken, potato salad, and fruit. Vegetarian alternatives are possible. On our dam release rafting trips we serve a barbeque style picnic. If you are a group of 20 or more, other picnic options may be available!
    • How do I get to that road across from Harpers Ferry?

      Comment: We know this question has nothing to do with whitewater, but it is our most frequently asked question.
      Turn onto Keep Tryst Road from U.S. 340, the flashing yellow lights just on the Maryland side of the Potomac River Bridge. Turn onto Sandy Hook Road from Keep Tryst. After you pass through a long row of houses on the right, Sandy Hook Road becomes Harpers Ferry Road. Do not park in the school bus turn-around at the end of Sandy Hook. There is parking near the C & O Canal access points just after the bridge.
    • Since I am going to get wet, is it at least OK if I wear my warm sweats?

      Cotton wicks the heat away from you when it gets wet and will cause you to become hypothermic. Wear wool, or PolyProtm — these will keep the heat in. Sweats are most definitely out, until after you get back to dry land. However, cotton does help to keep you cool on hot days when it is wet!
    • What can I drink to stay warm?

      Drink warm liquids. These will help you replace lost body heat and warm you from the inside. Please note that warm food will have the opposite effect. A good hot meal an hour or so before the trip would, however, give you energy reserves to keep you warm.
    • How do I know what to wear?

      Know the weather conditions.
      Being prepared is the best way to keep warm. Check to see what the water and air temperatures are. If you add the air temp, adjusted for wind chill, and the water temp together and they equal less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, you are in prime hypothermia conditions. You can get current weather, water level, and water temperatures from the National Weather Service. Our Outfitter Store will be happy to rent you a wetsuit when the weather conditions call for it , but please reserve them in advance (sometimes they are even included, so check your specific tour). You must also wear shoes.

We Look Forward To You Joining Us!

Please Note: Spaces on these popular trips are limited and fill fast. Book Now To Secure Your Spot!