River Classifications & Descriptions
Rivers have a wide variety of personalities. Not all are raging torrents of water as depicted in Hollywood’s ‘The River Wild’! Different rivers have different features; even different sections of the same river can be completely different. Take the Kicking Horse River, for example. The river itself is 80-kilometres long but only a quarter of that is actually runnable by raft. Some sections are braided and shallow with hazardous logjams. Other sections are just too steep and dangerous.
The International Scale of River Difficulty classifies individual rapids on a scale of 1 through 6. Class 1 is easy whereas Class 5 is nearly impossible; Class 6 is unrunnable. A rapid may vary in terms of the time it takes to run. Some rapids take only a few seconds whereas others may take 20 seconds or more. Portage and Shotgun rapids, on the Kicking Horse River, cover approximately 1-kilometer of river distance. That’s a good minute or two of non-stop whitewater action!
Here are the six tiers of Rapid Classification:
REMEMBER: This scale is subjective. Grading of rapids can fluctuate season to season, day to day, and sometimes hour to hour. This scale is meant only as a guideline for how easy, or difficult, a rapid or section of the river may be. Our knowledgeable reservation specialists know what the river level may be at the time of your chosen trip.