Whitewater Rafting: Rapid Classes Demystified

Class I? Class II? III, IV, V?! What does it all mean? Rapid ratings don’t seem simple, because they really aren’t. The American system of whitewater rapid ratings is subjective (for example, a class-V rapid on one river can be…

Whitewater Rafting: Rapid Classes Demystified

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Class I? Class II? III, IV, V?! What does it all mean?

Rapid ratings don’t seem simple, because they really aren’t. The American system of whitewater rapid ratings is subjective (for example, a class-V rapid on one river can be totally different from a class-V on another) and leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Further complicating things, a rapid’s rating DOES NOT vary by water level, even though water-level changes can have DRASTIC effects on the objective difficulty and hazards of a rapid.

Well don’t fret! In just a little more than a single minute, we’re going to show you a typical example of each rapid rating from West Virginia’s New and Gauley Rivers, and explain why it’s rated that way. (Just keep that whole water-level thing in mind though, okay?)

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