River Rafting Levels in Colorado – INFOGRAPHIC
Carefully planning a whitewater rafting adventure is paramount to not only being safe, but also having a good time. Knowing what to expect on your rafting trip is key to making lasting memories while on the river. Similar to downhill skiing and rock climbing, river rafting uses a scale of difficulty to convey the skill level required to navigate sections of rivers. While a skier is aware that a black diamond run is steeper and is more difficult to ski down than a green or blue run, river guides and rafting enthusiasts are aware that rapids, like ski runs, vary in intensity.
The scale to determine the intensity of rivers was developed by by the North Carolina-based nonprofit American Whitewater and is recognized globally by rafters, kayakers and conoeists alike. The classification system, or International Scale of Difficulty, ranges from Class 1 for beginners to Class 6 for the elite.
River Classification System
Class I: Easy. Mostly flat, slow moving water with the occasional small wave. Clear passages and no severe obstacles.
Class II: Mild. Small rapids, low in difficulty with clear passages and a few minor obstacles.
Class III: Moderate. Numerous, medium sized waves. Clear, narrow passages requiring maneuvering. Rapids with rocks, creating some severe obstacles.
Class IV: Difficult. Rapids are long, with powerful waves and rocks creating potentially dangerous hazards. Precise maneuvering through narrow and/or rock-choked passages.
Class V: Extreme. Difficult, long and violent rapids, close together in distance. Big, powerful drops, along a steep gradient through forceful currents. Pinpoint precision maneuvering through tight passages and around frequent severe obstacles.
Class VI: Considered unrunnable! Do not attempt. Waterfalls and other unavoidable life-threatening hazards.
While the scale isn’t exact, subjective factors such as skill level, season and river conditions at the time the river is paddled can influence the classification system. Before heading out on the river, knowing your comfort and skill level before embarking on your white water adventure will help ensure you and everyone else in your raft has a good time.
Arkansas River Rapids Classes
We are lucky in Colorado to have a handful of great rivers to raft on. Even better is the fact that the Arkansas River is rated as one of the Top 10 rivers in the US for white water rafting. Take a look at the infographic below for our favorite sections.
At Wilderness Aware Rafting, we understand how a proper family rafting vacation can create some of the best memories a person can have, after all, we have our testimonials to base that off of. If you are interested in a Colorado Rafting Trip, Denver Rafting, multi-day rafting trip, or want to try rafting the Salt River near Phoenix, AZ, please be sure to contact us and find out what white water rafting trips we have available.