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White Water Rafting River Grades

White Water Rafting River GradesWe have referred to White Water Rafting River Grades of a rapid in many of our posts. What we have not done is post a good definition of the grades on our blog. Please comment if you disagree with anything we provide here.

Although the grade definitions may vary from country to country or even state to state, the following are an excellent guideline for anyone considering going for a white water excursion. You should also note that the grade level of a particular river can change at a moments notice. Some will change over the season. High fast water in the spring, more tranquil water and lower river levels in the summer mean more exposed rocks. Also rivers that are controlled by the amount of water released by dam controls can change within hours. It is very important to go with someone who knows and understands the river at all levels of water flow.

White Water Rafting River Grades

Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill Level: Very Basic)

Grade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering.(Skill Level: Basic Paddling Skill)

Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering.(Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)

Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill Level: Whitewater Experience)

Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering (Skill Level: Advanced Whitewater Experience)

Grade 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous as to be effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes. (Skill Level: Successful completion of a Class 6 rapid without serious injury or death is widely considered to be a matter of great luck or extreme skill)

Special Consideration

Grades 4,5 and 6 are not for novices, even if you have a guide with you. These are dangerous rapids. The possibility of being spilled into the water is high. If you cannot swim, then you should avoid these types of rapids.

Use common sense when you are planning to embark on a white water rafting trip. Make sure you have all of the proper equipment. You should have an excellent guide who knows the river. Also that all of your companions can handle the level of rapids that you are planning on traversing. Remember your raft team is only as good as the weakest among you. If you are depending on someone who will panic easily, then you cannot depend on them to help steer the raft or rescue you if you should end up in the water.

Good luck and enjoy your next white water rafting trip !

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2 Responses to “White Water Rafting River Grades”

  1. i would like to try white water rafting, and I am glad I read your blog. there is no way I am going on anything higher than a class 3 river trip. I cannot swim and do not want to risk being thrown out of the raft!

  2. I’m an outdoorsman and love cilnbimg moutains. I’m also a Promise Keeper and wondered when the next Peak Challenge will take place. I’d love to do this in Alaska. I went there last year and was absolutely stunned with the glaciers near Seward. Does anyone go to Alaska for this kind of stuff? In Christ,Gregg SmithBellevue, NEPsalm 119:18

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