If you’re looking for rafting and adventure inspiration without the added screen time, there is definitely a wide array of reading material to consider. There are a ton of rafting and outdoor books to be inspired by regardless of your taste in genres or even your age. Find yourself a comfortable spot, curl up with a great book and bring a bit of the outdoors in.

For those interested in all things rafting inspired, check out our list of movies and podcasts for additional material to get you excited to head out for some rafting fun.

The River Why

The River Why by David James Duncan is about much more than fishing, it’s a story of a young man faced with the reality of both the good and bad that exists in life. Heading out to make his own path away from his fishing-obsessed family, Gus Orviston comes to experience much more than freedom. Ultimately, he comes face-to-face with the impact of man’s impact on the natural world, the unpredictability of life which can’t all be scheduled, and the value of connecting with others.

The Journals of Lewis and Clark

The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark recount their journey of discovery and exploration of western United States from 1804 through 1806. Arguably the ultimate travel, adventure, and rafting book all in one. Together the men kept a detailed journal of the flora, fauna, sprawling landscapes, topography and that of the various indigenous peoples they encountered. They detailed their round trip journey from Wood River, Illinois mapping rivers and waterways throughout the uncharted wilderness of the Pacific Northwest until the Pacific ocean.

To the River: A Journey Below the Surface

To the River: A Journey Below the Surface by Olivia Laing explores the connection between us and rivers, their presence in literature, mythology, and their connection with time and change. Taking place along the magnetic river Ouse, this dreamy read interweaves the biographical connection of the river to acclaimed author Virginia Wolfe. Journey through meditation, memories, the poetic properties to be found in nature and showcasing how rivers draw people in with often indescribable properties.

Three Men in a Boat

For a good laugh check out Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome. What was originally planned to be a serious account turned into a hilarious tale of three men on their two week boating holiday on the River Thames from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford and back. While at times it appears the author was trying to write a serious guidebook as he discusses nearby landmarks, he often digresses into hilarious anecdotes, ultimately showing that these three men were probably not the most suited or coordinated to embark on such a boat journey. But there they are, three characters trying to make the best of their vacation, accompanied of course by their fox terrier Montmorency

White Water, Red Walls

White Water, Red Walls by Carol McMillan provides a unique take on rafting in the Grand Canyon through poetry, paintings, and photography. Her account combines adventure and reflection, providing a raw approach to an extreme activity while not losing sight in the beauty to be found in both the natural environment and the experience itself bridging the intensity of raging rivers and peacefulness of the towering natural structures.

Fifty Places to Paddle Before You Die

Fifty Places to Paddle Before You Die by Chris Santella is the ultimate watersport wishlist, featuring all things paddling. Whether it’s kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, and of course rafting! With recommendations from all around the world, there are a wide variety of choices for both local and international travel. Featuring stunning photographs, enticing travelogue, and engaging travel tips, this book will make you feel like you’re there or have you rapidly adding multiple destinations to your future travel list.

Yukon Passage: Rafting 2,000 miles to the Bering Sea

Yukon Passage: Rafting 2,000 miles to the Bering Sea by Keith Tryck is a different type of rafting tale. The book recounts both a physical and a reflective journey, with Tryck and three companions retracing the route that some ten thousand people previously took during the gold rush. During their two years voyage of floating by raft (and finally skiing), the group set out on the 1,800-mile journey between July 1972 and February 1974. Passing relics of the past and abandoned ghost towns all while managing to steer a raft amidst the inevitable forces of nature. The story is far from ordinary with National Geographic filming a documentary special about the group and their quest and all the discoveries that are made in good company.


Check out this list of 100+ outdoor books for kids, with something for every age. After reading these, your kids will be begging to head outdoors!

Although we’re sure you can think of a few more great books to add to the list, these are some great options to get you started. Once it’s time to get outside and feel the cool spray of the river on your face for real (and not just how you imagine it), check out our half-day or full-day rafting trips for a real-life on the river adventure.