The First Rafting Outfitter in Maine
In 1976 Wayne and Suzie Hockmeyer founded what became Northern Outdoors - running the very first rafting trip on the Kennebec River, and the first rafting trip in the state of Maine. We dodged a few logs that year, as active logging continued through 1976 on the Kennebec. We didn’t wear helmets; we didn’t have self-bailing rafts; we had unsightly life jackets, and we fell in love with the river, the rafting, the excitement, and the beauty. Folks thought we were crazy at the time. Rafting was in its infancy in the US, with just a handful of outfitters opening their doors from 1969 through the 1970s in the West and Southeast. We changed our name from Kennebec Whitewater Expeditions to Northern Outdoors in 1983 to reflect the company's new year-round direction.
Northern Outdoors - Pioneers In Maine Rafting Since 1976.
Year-Round Inspired Maine Adventure Vacations!
Find out why so many guests return to Northern Outdoors year after year, making traditions of their family or friends getaway Maine vacation.
Watch this video to see all you get to enjoy at Northern Outdoors!
Key Dates In Northern Outdoor's History
1976 - May: Ran the first rafting trip ever on the Kennebec River.
- 1976 - September: Ran first rafting trip ever on the Penobscot River that fall.
- 1978 - May: Ran first rafting trip ever on the Dead River
- 1978 - Switched from heavy wooden paddles to lightweight plastic paddles.
- 1982 - Started to offer helmets on the river.
- 1983 - Built Main lodge at the Forks Resort.
- 1983 - We changed our name to Northern Outdoors .
- 1983 - We become a year-round resort, are the first to hire year-round staff, and offer snowmobiling in winter.
- 1988 - Built the Logdominiums.
- 1992 - Built the Crying Loon Cottage.
- 1994 - Switched to self-bailing rafts on the river.
- 1996 - 2000 Building more and more cabins!
- 2002 - Purchased wilderness campground and cabins at the Forks Center.
- 2005 - Purchased Eagle Cove Lakeside Cabins on Wyman Lake.
- 2008 - Added kid-sized paddles on the Kennebec River, developed geocaching program, and connected ATV trail direct to The Forks Resort lodge
- 2011 - Partnered with Grey's Outfitting to offer fall Bird Hunting Packages
- 2012 - Hosted Untamed Adventure Race in June, the largest Adventure Race in the U.S. during 2012
- 2013 - Offering ATV Rentals through a partnership with Back Country Expeditions
Setting Maine Rafting Standards for Safety, Training, Excellence
When we say we set the standards of whitewater rafting in Maine, we did! There was no-one else on the river! Today we continue to set the standards and raise the bar for excellence in outdoor recreation and adventure, on and off the river. Our professional and dedicated staff members are the reason for our continued excellence and innovation.
Our Year-Round StaffOur commitment to having the best outdoor adventure company in Maine was the driving force behind our establishment of a year-round, four season adventure company. We wanted to hire the best staff and give them year-round employment in order to hold onto them and give them more career opportunities. More about our Staff.
Today, the key members of our salaried guide staff have over 100 years of combined guiding experience in Maine. For them, Northern Outdoors isn't just a seasonal job, it's their career, and their dedication is one of the biggest reasons why Northern Outdoors is the most successful outfitter in the Northeast.
As we enter our fourth decade, our commitment to providing guests with a superior quality outdoor recreation experience is a thriving, year-round business. Every year almost 20,000 guests choose Northern Outdoors for their adventure vacation in whitewater rafting, ATVing, hiking, teambuilding, fishing, hunting and snowmobiling.
We invite you to experience for yourself the Northern Outdoors difference. Come celebrate 36 years of Maine’s great outdoors with us.
Suzie, Jim, and Russell
Suzie, Jim, and Russell