If you love whitewater rafting, and live in the Northeast, you don't have to travel across the country this summer to get some excellent rafting in. You can find great rapids without ever traveling too far. Below is a list of three of the Northeasts best whitewater rivers.
Penobscot River in Maine
If you're up around Maine, then your best choice is to go with the Penobscot River. The river is famous for having some very tricky rapids. The rapids run from class 3 all the way up to class 5. The most difficult, hard-to-navigate rapids are downstream from McKay station launch. In particular, you should be on the watch for the run known as "The Cribworks." It is a run that needs to be scouted out before hand, so you should shore up and assess it before attempting the pass through.
If you don't feel comfortable navigating the rapids yourself, you can always hook up with one of the local tour companies. They will know the exact spot to exit the river before you end up entering very rough, class 5 rapids. There are campgrounds around the river, so you can spend the night out in nature if you like instead of heading back to a hotel.
Delaware River in New York and Pennsylvania
If you live in the NYC/Tri-State region, then you should look to the Delaware River. It doesn't have the very serious whitewater that some other rivers have (it's mostly class 1 and 2) but it is really fun. You can pull off the river and relax on the shore on either the New York or Pennsylvania side. Lots of people shore up next to some of the deeper, calmer sections of the river and tan on the shore and go swimming.
That said, there are some nice rapids, especially around Skinners Falls. There are a number of public access points in both Pennsylvania and New York, but you might be best served driving into Port Jervis (New York side) or Matamoras (Pennsylvania side) and hooking up with a local tour company that will provide you with rafts and transportation.
West River, Vermont
For folks in Vermont, the West River provides some really nice class 3 rapids. The shoreline is rocky, so you won't be pulling in and sunbathing, but the water is fast and fun. You will head to southern Vermont, specifically Jamaica. The river is fun in the summer, but if you enjoy it, you should head back during the fall when the Army Corps Of Engineers releases dam water and the rapids really get wild. During the dam release period, there is a shuttle to accommodate the huge influx of tourists who are there to raft and kayak the river. Click here to learn more about whitewater rafts.