White Water Rafting: River Classification System

whitewater rafting


Since 1997, private wealth advisor Henry E. Vail II has jointly owned and operated Sucré-Vail Wealth Advisors in Houston, Texas. The award winning professional has helped affluent families with estate planning and more for over 20 years, and is a Notary Public in the State of Texas. In his spare time, Henry Vail II enjoys whitewater rafting.

Whitewater rafting is a sport that provides the thrill of speed to participants. Rivers are categorized according to the level of difficulty and overall danger of the run. Beginners are typically most comfortable with Class I or Class II. Class I (Easy) rivers feature fast moving water with small waves and easily visible obstructions. Children who can swim may enjoy rafting with their families in these waters. Class II (Novice) rivers have medium sized waves and rocks, and are easy to maneuver. The risk of injury is very low, and self-rescue is easy.

Intermediate rafters can test their skills on Class III and Class IV rivers. Class III (Intermediate) water provides moderate waves in irregular patterns. Good control and practiced maneuvers are required. Self-rescue is still attainable. Class IV (Advanced) rivers are characterized by predictable but intense, powerful water that calls for precise raft handling. Trained group rescue becomes necessary in Class IV runs.

Experienced, well-trained rafters who are looking for a challenge can test their skills on the most advanced runs. Class V (Expert) waters are characterized by demanding, violent water with rapids running for long stretches. Top physical condition is required for the strength and stamina needed to navigate, and even group rescue becomes difficult. Class VI (Extreme/Exploratory) runs are the most extreme of all. Rescue may not be possible. These dangerous, unpredictable, and difficult rivers are rarely attempted.