Where to Float:
There are several sections of the Deerfield that are popular with floaters. The most popular section of river is from the Fife Brook Dam in Florida, MA to the Shunpike Parking Area in Charlemont, which is just downstream of where Rt. crosses the Deerfield River. This section is full of mainly class I and II rapids that can be navigated safely by experienced paddlers and tubers. HOWEVER! THERE IS ONE DANGEROUS CLASS IV at Zoar Gap, just upstream of the Zoar Rd bridge. Open boats and tubes should use the portage here and put in below the bridge.
For those looking for a more exciting ride, the section of river above Fife Brook starting below Sherman Dam in Munroe offers perhaps the BEST CIII-IV whitewater in all of New England on a section of river called the Dryway. It is called the Dryway because a hydropower canal diverts most of the water around this section of river, except on designated release days. See the release schedule here.
Downstream of Shelburne Falls, the river enters a steep gorge, where few roads and limited development make the river hard to access, but afford a true wilderness experience. Many tubers and canoeists pit in at Barwell Ferry Bridge. In addition to the main stem of the Deerfield River, several tributaries offer exciting creek boating when there are high flows.
When to Float
Regular releases from the Fife Brook Dam in Florida, MA allow for float trips all year round. Generally, the river is floatable when it is running between 800 and 1000 cfs. However, experienced boaters can safely float the river at somewhat higher discharges. Morning dam releases (usu starting between 9 and noon) from Fife Brook take about 4 hours to reach the Rt 2 Bridge and 10 hours to reach Barwell Ferrry bridge. A forecast of flows for the next 24 hours is available on our flows page here.
Several guide services offer boating as well as tubing services. Zoar Outdoor is a full service river boating company that offers kayaking and rafting experiences. Crabapple offers daily rafting trips in the summer. Deerfield River Portage will provide tubes and transport to facilitate a tubing trip.
The Deerfield is an amazing resource, and floating down the river on a hot summer day is about as close to pure bliss as you’re likely to find. DRWA encourages all river users to do so safely and respectfully. Here are some guidelines to ensure that we are all using the river responsibly:
- Always wear a PFD when floating down the river
- Wait until you are done floating to enjoy a beverage – the river is so beautiful, you don’t need anything else to enhance the experience
- Have a plan to manage your litter. There are several vendors in Charlemont who can rent you a dry-bag to keep your lunch in and garbage for when you’re done eating.
- Use the restroom at the put in. Fife Brook, Zoar Picnic both have facilities. Respect private property. DRWA is advocating to have facilities installed at the Shun Pike rest area on Rt 2 in Charlemont as well.
- When boating or tubing in the vicinity of folks fishing, please share the river well – limit splashing and noise so as to minimize scaring fish or disturbing the contemplative nature of fishing.