Whitewater Rafting Rapid Classification Guide

An international scale that rates individual rapids from class 1 (easy) to class 6 (nearly impossible) is used in all our river descriptions. A rapid may vary in terms of time from just a few seconds to 20 seconds or more.

 

Class 1

“Chinook definition: Very relaxing.”

Gentle, moving water. Very small waves requiring little or no maneuvering.

 

Class 2

“Chinook definition: You may get splashed.”

Regular waves, easy to see, may reach 3 to 4 feet in height. Avoiding rocks, river bends or other obstacles may require simple maneuvering.

 

Class 3

“Chinook definition: You will get wet!”

Large, continuous series or sets of waves, some in excess of 6 feet. “Holes” or “hydraulics” may be present, and can be run or avoided. Small drops, ledges or waterfalls may be present. Scouting the rapids is suggested for all but the most experienced of river persons.

 

Class 4

“Chinook definition: You’ll get soaked . . . like a 9 or 10 on the ‘fun scale’!”

Confused and erratic waves or holes. Large obstructions need to be avoided in what are referred to as “must moves.” Risk of injury if swimming without benefit of a raft! Very difficult and scouting is required.

 

Class 5

“Chinook definition: Adrenaline junkies only!”

For most people, class V goes off the “fun” scale and enters the “kinda scary” scale! Very challenging for even the most experienced river persons. High risk of capsize or injury. Limit of navigation and scouting is essential.

 

Class 6

“Chinook definition: Niagara Falls in a barrel!”

Virtually non-navigable, or navigable only at particularly favorable river levels.

 

REMEMBER! This scale is subjective. Rapids can change in difficulty seasonally and as quickly as overnight! This scale is meant only as a guideline for how easy or difficult a rapid, river or river trip may be. It is best to speak with one of our knowledgeable reservationists to find out what the river level may be like at the time when you would like to raft with us, and assist you in choosing the best trip.