Nestled in the southern alps of France lies the incredible Ubaye Valley and one of France’s premiere rafting destinations. This watershed is famous throughout Europe for its powerful rapids and committing gorges. With its headwaters at the Col du Longet over 8700 feet above sea level, on the Italian border, the Ubaye River is one of the few raftable free flowing river sections left in France.
Often considered one of the most beautiful in Europe, it offers ten sections of class II to class V- whitewater on over 31 miles of whitewater. The Ubaye runs unhindered for nearly 50 miles before it is impounded by the Serre-Ponçon reservoir. Flow on this river varies between 7000 Cubic feet per second in spring to just under 200 CFS in summer. Prime season for this amazing river is typically April – June.
Le Martinet section
The most commonly run commercial section for rafting is the Le Martinet / Le Lauzet section. This 5.5 mile (9 km) run is an instant classic. Bordering on class IV+ in the early spring this amazing section of river typically calms down to a fun class III/IV adventure during the summer when runoff has slowed down. This iconic section culminates in the Lauzet Gorge, a slot canyon nearly 1000 ft long, with a medieval bridge spanning the deepest part of the gorge 65 feet overhead.
Le Gorge Royals section
One of the crown jewels of this river is the Royal Gorge a highly technical and committing gorge. Rated at a solid Class V section with potential portages this section is for experienced rafters only. This section cascades on average around 150 feet per mile for over 2.5 miles until it reaches village of Lauzet. The steepness of this river rivals that of the famous Cherry Creek section of the upper Tuolumne River. This massive canyon finishes off in the pristine waters of the Serre-Ponçon reservoir.
The Ubaye River boasts an incredibly scenic and beautiful Class III to V tributary called the Bachelard River. Originating in the heart of the Mercantour National Park in the valley of Cayolle, this beautiful free flowing river runs 17 miles to join up with the Ubaye. The steep canyon and beautiful Larch forests make this a fantastic May – June river trip. Read full article of The Ubaye – gem of the French Alps
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