Paddler's Guide to the Delaware River
Kayak - Canoe - Raft - Tube
||River Outfitters||Important Contacts|
The difficulty and duration of a river trip varies with the river level, or "stage". When the river is low, plan on extra time to reach your destination. When the river is high, your trip will be faster but may be more difficult and dangerous. Don't even think of going on the river when it is flooding.
River stage is not the same as depth. Stage is the elevation of the river surface above a fixed point; depth varies dramatically with drop-offs, holes, shallows, ledges and reefs. For example, the stage at Barryville might be 4 feet, but the depth nearly 110 feet nearby at Big Eddy (Narrowsburg)
Call the National Park Service river information "hotline" -- 845-252-7100 -- for a report of river stage and other conditions at Barryville.
Staff gage on the Barryville-Shohola Bridge (image only -- NOT the current stage)
The US Geological Survey, in cooperation with the National Weather Service, Delaware River Basin Commision, and other agencies maintain gages at several points along the Delaware. The stage at Barryville is the benchmark for recreation on the upper Delaware. The National Park Service offers the following guidelines:
< 2 1/2 feet: Low. Many exposed rocks, especially in rapids. Expect to scrape rocks and/or river bottom. Slow river trip, shorter trips recommended.
2 1/2 - 4 feet: Average. Some rocks exposed in rapids. Some waves up to 3 feet. River current 2 mph. Good water level for recreational boating.
4-6 feet: Moderate. Rafting suggested for less-skilled paddlers. Waves up to 4-5 feet. Only the larger rocks exposed in rapids. River current 2.5 mph. Increased canoe/kayak skills required.
6-8 feet: High. Not suited to open canoes. Waves up to 6 feet. Hydraulics (undercurrents) noticable. Very swift river current, 3 mph. Higher skill level recommended for canoes/kayaks; rafts recommended for for less experienced paddlers. It is required that all boaters wear a PFD at all times when on the river.
> 8 feet. Very high +. Not recommended for recreational boating. Properly equiped rafts or closed boats only. Extreme danger, highest skill level necessary.
Forecasted river stages can be found at:
Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center
Optimal (average) stage for recreational boating at selected gages along the Delaware are shown below. Follow the links for current stage, water temperature, and other river conditions.