Precision Rafting (PR) started in 1981 after we decided to try and make a living on one of our favorite kayak runs. Since the mid 1970’s the Upper Youghiogheny River was considered to be unraftable, too steep and technical and too wild of a place to make a go of it. The water release in the Upper Yough ran Monday through Friday to provide electricity for the steel mills of Pittsburgh. It seemed like the perfect place to start a rafting company with consistent water releases creating awesome rapids all summer long. To this day the Upper Yough is still some of the best white water on the east coast.
The state of Maryland declared a large tract of land to be a wild and scenic river corridor. By 1986, other rafting outfitters from Pennsylvania and West Virginia came along in a gold rush-style to stake their claim as an outfitter on the Upper Yough. By the mid-1990s Maryland Department of Natural Resources needed to regulate the process and by 1994 Precision Rafting had become the biggest outfitter on the Upper Yough. Thirty-nine years later Precision Rafting is one of the only original outfitters left among the six remaining. Today, PR works with the authorities to readjust the release schedule for Saturdays, ensuring more rafters and kayakers can enjoy the river in the spring, summer and fall.
With ten miles of pristine wilderness, lots of wildlife to see and incredible rapids, it’s an unforgettable experience. Precision Rafting enjoys sharing this magical place with new guests as well as seasoned vets. With changes brought about by currents, the trip is always a different experience. I personally have paddled this section of river more than 4,000 times and it still holds my attention. This trip is like no other. With small, four-person rafts, it’s like taking a sports cars through nature and rapid, getting up close and personal with the river. We take safety very seriously so you can enjoy the wildness and still have a level of comfort and security, even if you’ve never rafted before.
The Upper Yough is like three trips in one, starting with a mile of flat moving water. This lets you get a feel for the rafts, learn to paddle and steer and learn all the different leans necessary for the big rapids. Next comes a mile of class 3 rapids that increase in intensity. During this section you get to practice what you learned in the flat water and get a real feel for the leans, high-sides, surfs, eddy turns and all the paddle strokes you’ll need for the rest of the trip.
The river then turns into a 5-mile stretch of rapids that are so big and close together it feels more like one 5-mile long rapid with few breaks in between — just enough to set up safety and stage guides in key spots with throw ropes for easy rescue. When you finish the big rapid section the river slowly winds down to become a flat water river where you glide back to Friendsville where you started the day. Wrapping up with some hot food and cold drink is a great way to decompress and reflect on one of the best river trips you can do.
I really enjoy sharing this magical place with everyone and we have had over 65,000 guests over the last four decades. If you’ve rafted before you’ll really appreciate the spectacular nature of the river. If this is your first trip you’ll be hooked for life. I hope this inspires you to raft with us and check out this wonderful place.