Whitewater rafting is one of the biggest spring activities in the Adirondacks. The snowmelt combined with rain we typically get at this time of year yields incredible rapids.
Enjoy this thrilling sport at the biggest whitewater rafting event in the area, the Hudson River Whitewater Derby, happening for the 62nd year in a row on May 4th and 5th. Here’s what you need to know for this year’s event.
What to Expect at the 2019 Whitewater Derby
The event comprises the Slalom Races, the Not-So-Whitewater Race, and the Whitewater Derby Downriver Race; there is also a party with music, prizes, and more.
The Slalom Races kick off the weekend at the Perry Ehlers rapids that run along Route 28 in North River. These races involve navigating a course of gates. Some gates require passage straight ahead, others require a boat to go through a gate backward, and others require the racer to come back from downstream to go through the gate heading upstream.
Penalties are assessed for each gate touched or missed. The participant with the lowest score – fastest time minus the penalties – is the winner.
The Not-So-Whitewater Race follows the Slalom Races. This one is for canoes and kayaks and is held on a 2.5-mile stretch of the Hudson just upstream of North Creek. This race is particularly great for spectators because of its proximity to Route 28 in North River.
The Whitewater Derby Downriver Race is on Sunday. As the name suggests, this is a downriver race that runs 7.5 miles from North Creek to Riparius. The race is challenging and rapids are plentiful. Spectators can walk up the railroad tracks for better views.
This is the full schedule:
Saturday, May 4th
Slalom Races: 9am registration and pickup at North River, 11am races start
Not-So-Whitewater Race: Immediately follows the Slalom Races
Party: 4pm party starts at Basil and Wicks in North Creek with music, prizes, and awards
Sunday, May 5th
Whitewater Downriver Race: 9am registration and packet pickup at Hudson River Pavilion next to the train station in North Creek, 11am races start
Awards Ceremony: Awards are presented in Riparius at the finish line immediately following the races
Interested in participating? Race day registration is available on both days from 9am to 11am. You can find more information on the event and registration at whitewaterderby.com.
Background on the Momentous Event
The Whitewater Derby is one of the oldest canoe and kayak races in the US. It began in 1958 as a celebration of the Upper Hudson River and its history, especially the log drives which ended in 1950. The “derby” in the name is a nod to the Kentucky Derby, which happens the same weekend.