Thumbs Up: A review of OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River

The current swirled all around me. I kept swimming upwards praying to feel that fresh air on my face but I kept being pulled deeper and deeper. Seconds felt like hours. Out of nowhere the instructions came back to me. Become a ball. Seconds later I felt buoyancy kick in and I shot towards the surface. Someone asks, “Did you reach the Green Room?”

After reading that, one might ask why one would ever set foot in a whitewater raft? Admittedly it’s not for everybody but you’d be missing out on an amazing experience if you didn’t try it once. Especially with the amazing folks from OWL rafting on the Ottawa River.

I’ve been fortunate enough to raft with OWL three times now. Each time has been a fantastic experience. OWL has the whole package: a fantastic trip, killer resort, and a prime location.

The Trip

Bachelor Party 2018

Every trip with OWL begins with a quick orientation and a bus ride up the river after receiving your gear. The trip begins with a gentle paddle from the launch down the Ottawa River. Ample time to build the stoke required for the day. Soon you’ll begin hearing roaring water and the guides will give you a run down of what to expect. Everyone can let the guide know whether they’re comfortable or not by giving a thumbs up. Always give a thumbs up. Don’t be that person who dropped all the money just to walk the trails. You’ll do great even if you’re scared. It’s part of the fun! Once you get the first one under your belt then you’ll be good to go for the day! Let your sense of adventure take over. You won’t regret it! Cliff jumping, dynamic rapids, and great times with friends and guides will follow. Finish it all off with some food and a ride back on the pontoon boat.

They also capture pretty cool shots like this

The Resort

Can’t beat breakfast on the Ottawa River

After a day of raging whitewater it’s nice to have a spot to relax. The resort at OWL offers the full package. Unreal steak dinners, beer from nearby Whitewater Brewing Co., and the use of all the canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards at the beach. Crack a beer and chat with the guides and your buddies around the campfire. Ready to turn in for the night after a long day? Return to your tent (that you pitched in the camping area) and fall asleep to the howl of a coyote/wolf. Wake up in the morning to the haunting call of a loon and do it all again!

The facilities at OWL pride themselves on being green. The composting toilets and showers heated by solar energy are very clean and well maintained by staff. Worried about food waste? They’ve got that covered too! Much of the leftover food is fed to pigs that the staff take care of a short distance away from the main resort.

Still need convincing? Frisbee golf. That’s it! They have it! What’s better than a pint, good food, green efficiency and frisbee golf? Nothing!

The Location

OWL rafting is located in a prime location in the Ottawa Valley. There are ample opportunities for paddling, hiking, and biking on or near the Ottawa River. Nearby Whitewater Brewing Co. has two brew pubs that can provide you with the best beer and food around. Head further inland to paddle other rivers such as the Petawawa, Bonnechere, and the classic Madawaska. OWL and Madawaska Kanu enjoy a great partnership. I’ve heard nothin but great things about their trips and courses on the Madawaska river. The beginner kayak course, Zero to Hero, is on my list to complete soon! Take some time and explore the region but I can guarantee you that you’ll find yourself drawn back to the good folks at OWL.

Things to Know

  • Check out the website for OWL rafting here.
    Check out the website for Whitewater Brewing Co. here.

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