Whitewater Rafting Levels and Classifications – Banff, Canada

Whitewater Rafting - Banff, Alberta (Canada)

Learn to Navigate the Rapids – Raft Alberta and BC!

BANFF, ALBERTA, Canada – The speed and intensity of whitewater rapids varies greatly, unlike the nonstop roller coaster rivers you’ve seen in rafting movies and other Hollywood fare. Each Canadian river varies in the number and intensity of its rapids, and between those points of intensity, rafters like yourself will have time to sit back and view the iconic natural beauty of Banff National Park and the wonders of Alberta, Canada.

An international scale that rates individual rapids from class I (easy) to class VI (nearly impossible) is used by Banff Whitewater Rafting in all of our Banff river descriptions. A whitewater rapid may vary in terms of its the length of time its intensity lasts, from only a few seconds to 20 seconds or more.

Listed below are descriptions of the whitewater rapid classes, and our effort to make these usually technical terms relatable to the common man that’s coming on a Banff rafting excursion.

Class I

Banff Whitewater Rafting definition: “Very relaxing.”
Gentle, moving water. Very small waves requiring little or no maneuvering.

Class II

Banff Whitewater Rafting definition: “You may get splashed.”
Regular waves, easy to see, may reach 3 to 4 feet in height. Avoiding rocks, river bends or other obstacles may require simple maneuvering.

Class III

Banff Whitewater Rafting definition: “You will get wet!”
Large, continuous series or sets of waves, some in excess of 6 feet. “Holes” or “hydraulics” may be present, and can be run or avoided. Small drops, ledges or waterfalls may be present. Scouting the rapids is suggested for all but the most experienced of Canadian rafters.

Class IV

Banff Whitewater Rafting definition: “You’ll get soaked . . . like a 9 or 10 on the ‘fun scale’!”
Confused and erratic waves or holes. Large obstructions need to be avoided in what are referred to as “must moves.” Risk of injury if swimming without benefit of a raft! Very difficult and scouting is required.

Class V

Banff Whitewater Rafting definition: “Adrenaline junkies only!”
For most people, class V goes off the “fun” scale and enters the “kinda scary” scale! Very challenging for even the most experienced whitewater rafter. High risk of capsize or injury. Limit of navigation and scouting is essential.

Class VI

Banff Whitewater Rafting definition: “Niagara Falls in a barrel!” 
Virtually non-navigable, or navigable only at particularly favorable river levels.

REMEMBER! This scale is subjective. Canadian rapids can change in difficulty seasonally and as quickly as overnight! This scale is meant only as a guideline for how easy or difficult a rapid, river or river trip may be. It is best to speak with one of our knowledgeable Banff rafting reservationists to find out what the river level may be like at the time when you would like to raft with us, and assist you is choosing the best Canadian rafting trip.


Are you ready? Call 1-888-302-1117 to Book your Banff Whitewater Rafting vacation now, or use our online booking form!

[ published on April 20, 2011 • categorized under Rafting Levels and Classifications4 comments ]