2022 U.S. Commercial River Use Report

America Outdoors is pleased to revive its River Use Report, incorporating data from 2019 through 2022 to previously compiled data. While a few rivers did not share data in time for publication, the vast majority did, and they reveal a telling story about the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on river operators across the country.

On all charts, data is tracked by visitors, as opposed to visitor days, to estimate the number of participants enjoying whitewater rafting trips nationwide.  A visitor on a single-day trip is counted as one, and an individual on a multi-day trip is also counted as one.

The top 5 rivers in terms of visitor use numbers for 2022 are:

  1. Arkansas in Colorado with 247,721 visitors

  2. Pigeon in Tennessee with 213,426 visitors

  3. Ocoee in Tennessee with 164,242 visitors

  4. Nantahala in North Carolina with 115,997 visitors

  5. Clear Creek in Colorado with 80,364 visitors

Key takeaways:

  • 2021 was a banner year across the industry, reaching nearly 1.5 million visitors among these 48 rivers.

  • 2022 numbers are on par with pre-pandemic levels.

  • Family-friendly sections of rivers continue to see high visitor numbers.

To see the numbers for all the 48 tracked river segments, you can view the report below. We did not collect data from Grand Canyon, Alaska, and many other river sections, and we hope to expand this tracking to those areas in future years. While these locales have significant commercial river economies, due to their multi-day format they are underrepresented in this dataset.


Read the Full Report


Thank you to David Brown for connecting with agency offices across the country to assemble these years of data.

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