History’s Most Courageous River ExpeditionsClose your eyes and imagine yourself back in the 1800s or early 1900s. You’re an early river explorer, charting unknown territories. It’s up to you to navigate new places, endure horrific conditions, manage massive physical difficulties and survive unimaginable, wild adventures.

While a Santa Fe Rafting adventure today might be infinitely safer and more comfortable, it will let you tap into some of the wonder that the early explorers felt as they navigated beautiful landscapes. Below are some of the all-time greatest river expeditions that should inspire you to get out on a river soon.

The Northwest Passage Expedition by Lewis and Clark

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark—along with 33 other men— began a two-year expedition in May of 1804. Their goal was to locate a northwest passage. The heroic journey west began in a keelboat on the Mississippi River, took them up the Missouri River via very simple sail/row boats, over the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana and down the Columbia River all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Then they had to come all the way back again. The group endured starvation, wildlife and indigenous tribes, but they were able to unearth numerous undiscovered animal and plant species.

John Wesley Powell’s River Expedition through the Grand Canyon

Major John Wesley Powell explored the Grand Canyon via the Colorado River in the spring of 1869. The three-month expedition encountered enormous rapids and severe threats of starvation. At the end of three months, the team finally made it through the Grand Canyon, making them the first explorers to travel the length of this world wonder.

Theodore Roosevelt explores the River of Doubt

It was February 27, 1914, when former President Theodore Roosevelt began his journey down a branch of the Amazon River known as “The River of Doubt.” Accompanied by Brazilian military officer Cândido Rondon, Roosevelt’s dangerous canoe expedition—complete with treacherous waterfalls and jungle, attacks from native peoples, malaria, starvation, poisonous animals, infections and a mutiny from the crew—somehow successfully charted that very dangerous but important section of the Amazon.

Today, you don’t need to endure any of the challenges those explorers faced, but you can experience the thrill of Taos rafting. New Mexico and many other western states are home to guided river adventures that will entertain and inspire you.