Rapid Classes: Whitewater Rafting 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.

REMEMBER! This scale is subjective. Rapid classes will vary seasonally, due to changes in waterflow. They can also change 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 reservations team 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.


“Chinook definition: Very relaxing.”

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

All of our raft trips include some amount of gentle Class 1 waters.

Kananaskis River Raft Trip

Horseshoe Canyon Raft Trip

Kicking Horse River Raft Trip


“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.

All our rafting trips have some Class 2 rapids at various stages of the rivers.

Kananaskis River Raft Trip

Horseshoe Canyon Raft Trip

Kicking Horse River Raft Trip


“Chinook definition: You will get wet!”

Large, continuous series or sets of waves, some can be in excess of 6 feet. “Holes” or “hydraulics” may be present and can be run or maneuvered around them. Small drops, ledges or waterfalls may be present. Don’t worry, your Chinook Rafting mountain river rafting guide will be there to guide you through them!

All our rafting trips will experience some Class 3 rapids.

Kananaskis River Raft Trip

Horseshoe Canyon Raft Trip

Kicking Horse River Raft Trip


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

Powerful and intense waves or holes. Large obstructions need to be avoided or require technical navigating.  Very difficult and scouting by your experienced rafting guide is required. Your guide will tell you everything you need to do for a fun and safe experience!

The Horseshoe Canyon Raft Trip includes some Class 4 rapids.

The Kicking Horse River Raft Trip is predominantly a Class 4 rapid trip.


“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.


“Chinook definition: Niagara Falls in a barrel!”

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


Riding the rapids and soaking in nature's breathtaking beauty! 🌊🌿 Our white water rafting adventures offer more than just thrills; they're a journey through stunning landscapes that take your breath away.
Gather your crew and come join us as we navigate these pristine waters. 🚣‍♂️🏞️ Book today to get up to 20% off group bookings: chinookrafting.com/groups
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It’s opening day for the Kananaskis River Tours!

We can’t wait to see your smiling faces. Ready to share your epic moments on the rapids with us?  Be sure to tag us! 📸 
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Who's ready to ride the rapids this season? We definitely are!🙋
Drop a comment below if you plan on joining our guides on an epic adventure!
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-Kananaskis River Rafting-
For me, the River Rafting was the best experience of the whole Banff trip, because I don't know how to swim, and I vouched to sit right in the front, when they asked. It was a truely awesome feeling, being right in the face of the wild and cold water!
Got my 'oh sh*t' face down to a T #whitewater #rafting #canmore #funtimes #chinookrafting