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Ottawa River: Beachburg

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The Beachburg section of the Ottawa River is world famous and provides a wide, deep, big water run with lots of play opportunity.

Please note that the grade guidelines are given for medium flows. In colder temperatures and higher flows the river becomes significantly harder.


This river runs as soon as the ice is out until it freezes again the following winter.

Depending on whether you are camped with a rafting company, you may be able to use their takeout and putins.

Map of putin and takeout

Put in

OWL rafting provides a free to use putin.

Take out

You can takeout at River Run for a small fee which is included with the camping. You can also takeout further upstream at Wilderness Tours for a small fee.


See also Wilderness Tour's Map of the Rapids

McCoy's III+

Sattler's Hole

Whether you run the Middle or the Main Channel, you will run McCoy's. There are two big holes at the top of this rapid, Sattler's Hole on river left and Phil's Hole on river right. You can either thread the needle between these two holes or try to punch either hole depending on the level. Some people just like to go for a ride in Phils.

After these holes Corner Wave (good playspot) is on river right and the water pushes up against an island before the flow goes to the right and forms a tongue between two holes, left and rightside Horseshoe (also good playspots). Below horseshoe, the popular playspot Babyface forms.

Below this rapid there is flatwater before the river splits into two channels, the Main on the left and the Middle on the right.

It is possible to park and play here, park at the putin, play and then walk back up the island and paddle back to the car.

Main Channel

The Lorne (Garburator, Bus Eater) III+

At higher levels, this is where buseater forms. At lower levels, garburator comes in. This is a big wave rapid. Below the wave, the flow goes through a river right chute called Waikiki. At higher levels, a good surf wave forms here.

Pushbutton II

Then the river flow moves to the left through a small hole/wave called Pushbutton which is a great beginner/technique perfecting playspot. The river can be quite boily below pushbutton.

It is also possible to park and play at the Lorne by taking the road in to the OWL lunch spot.

Butcher's Knife III

Butcher's Knife is so called due to the sharp rock. There is sometimes a surfwave river left at the top of this rapid. The water below butcher;s knife is incredibly boily.

Normans III

Normans rapid is a HUGE wavetrain with huge standing waves followed by some incredible boils. This is a real rollercoaster of a rapid.

Coliseum III

Coliseum is just below Normans and is more big waves with a central hole/wave called Big Kahuna, this a wave at higher levels, a hole at lower levels and can sneak up on you if you aren't keeping an eye out.

Dogs Leg II

The river flow goes to the left and there are two different chutes that can be run here. The river right chute has some holes that are easily avoided.

Farmer Blacks II

This is a good place for play but at low levels the hole can get a bit munchy.

Middle Channel

Iron Ring III

Iron Ring
Running Iron Ring

Iron Ring is a narrowish drop into some boily water. At certain levels it is possible to get into the Room of Doom on river right. Above certain levels (around 6/7) it is advisable to avoid iron ring as it is pretty pushy. You can take the channel to the right and run little trickle and angel's kiss. It is still possible to paddle up to Butterfly, just as it is possible to paddle to Angel's Kiss if you run Iron Ring and Butterfly.

S Bend

S Bend is a good lunch spot with a good play hole/wave.

Party surf at S bend

Little Trickle III+

This rapid is narrower than a lot of the rapids on the Ottawa and may require a 'line'. Take the river left tongue and then left or right to avoid a sticky little hole. Then the river goes to the right down a small drop into some wavy outflow.

Angel's Kiss II

This is a beautiful, smooth, glassy wave that is amazing for soul surfing. A great spot for beginners.

Butterfly III

There are a couple of chutes here and depending on the levels, some interesting hole/wave play features appear in both the river left and river right chutes.

Garvin's Chute IV/V

This impressive falls is also sometimes called Dragon's Tongue for the way that the central flow splits around an island. It is often portaged but can be run down the middle channel, on the sneak on river left or on river right at the Elevator Shaft.

Upper No Name II/III

Upper no name is big wavy fun.

Lower No Name II/III

Lower no name is also big wavy fun with a few holes to watch out for at higher levels. The sneak down river left can get rocky so better to stay towards the middle and enjoy the ride!

Black Velvet II

A small, smooth wavy drop.

Length of run

A run can take as little as two hours if you just run straight down with no stopping. A run usually takes longer as there are stops for play and/or scouting. There are a couple of long flatwater sections between rapids.

Water levels

The gauge for the Ottawa is a visual stick gauge found below McCoy's rapids. Shaggy Designs has a free online gauge. An alternative source is OWL River level twitter account.

Low flow: The Ottawa is runnable at very low flows, there is no minimum

Ideal levels: 8+ on the middle channel, between -3 and 3 for the main channel with -1.75 suggested as the perfect level.

High flow: The Ottawa can get as high as 25+ but it still runnable.

Flow information for playboating: There are several "magic" levels when certain features come in. Here are some general guidelines (thanks to Neal Ross-Ross).


Babyface: +1 and lower with -1 the best level. Leftside Horseshoe: 0 and lower most fun but it is good upto around +2. Rightside Horseshoe: Wave hole forms at +3 to +4 Corner Wave: Good from +6 and lower Phils: Most pit like at +3 to +4, best wave at about +12. Sattlers: Great as a drop in only wave +15 and above and the higher better. Perfect level suggested at +15.5. 7-up hole or 7/8th hole: best from +7 to +8.

The Lorne

Garb: -2 to -0.5 with -1 the perfect level Pushbutton: Is a hole from 0 to -1 and then becomes more of a wave the lower you go. Best between -2 and +1.5. Waikiki: +8 is best Buseater: Surfable from 13 to 17. 13 is on the trashy side. 16-17 is best

Butcher's Knife

Chopping Block: Wave around 0 and washes out has levels get higher

Lunch Stop waves: Good surfing at +18 and higher


Kahuna: ? Gladiator comes in around 20 and upto mid 20s


Leftside: good at -3 or lower Rightside: Best around +1.5 to +2

Angel's Kiss

11-12 Large but not trashy



Upper no name

11-12 Wave at top of rapid with good eddy service

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