Knowing the Difference Between River Rapid Classes

River Rapids classes

Whether you’re an experienced river raft guide or a beginner when it comes to rafting rapids, you still need to follow the same law when it comes to safety and rapid classification. Because there are so many different types of rapids with different sizes and degrees of difficulty, there needs to be a way to classify them with a ranking system. Without this, people wouldn’t know just how tough a rapid is and be ill prepared for the consequences.

River experts use the International Scale of Difficulty when it comes to ranking different types of rapids. The rankings start at a Class I and progress to a Class 6, which is almost impossible to finish and requires great skill. It is important that a person chooses the right classification number that is equal to both their skill and comfort level. It is part of being safe on the river and can save lives.

The different rapid classifications include:

  • Class I: Easy- This is just fast moving water with a few small waves. It has a few obstructions, which are all obvious and easily missed with a little bit of training.
  • Class II: Novice- These are considered straightforward rapid that have clear channels that can be seen without scouting. There may be some occasional maneuvering required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed.
  • Class III: Intermediate- This is where the rapids start getting a little tricky. Class III rapids are classified as having moderate to irregular wave height and may be difficult to avoid. Complex maneuvers also may be in order in this rapid.Class IV: Advanced- Don’t enter a Class IV rapid without an experienced guide at the helm. The degree of difficulty has gone up substantially on a Class IV rapid and required some expert maneuvering. Scouting on these types of rapids may be necessary the first time down them.
  • Class V: Expert- Class V is the second to highest class you can strive for in the rafting community. It may also be the hardest rapid that is regularly doable, as anything higher is almost seen as impassable. These are very demanding rapids that should only be attempted by experts and are very long, obstructed, or violent.
  • Class VI: Extreme- These types of rapids are typically just to look at, as they are attempted very rarely. The consequences of error are quite dire, and rescue may be considered impossible. If these types of rapids must be tried, they should only be done by true professionals or a team of professionals.

If you have any further questions on the classification system or rapids, contact your local outfitter. If you need transportation to get to them, you can contact us!

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