White Water Rafting




If you decided to go white water rafting in the Grand Canyon it is helpful to know the classifications of the water.

Class 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill Level: Very Basic)


Class 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill Level: Basic Paddling Skill)


Class 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)


Class 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill Level: Whitewater Experience)

Class 5: Whitewater, large waves, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering (Skill Level: Advanced Whitewater Experience)


Class 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous as to be effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes. (Skill Level: Successful completion of a Class 6 rapid without serious injury or death is widely considered to be a matter of great luck or extreme skill)

The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon has many Class 4 or above rapids. I recommend that you go rafting with one of the tour companies rather than trying to raft on your own.

White water rafting can be a dangerous sport, especially if basic safety precautions are not observed. Both commercial and private trips have seen their share of injuries and fatalities, though private travel is typically more safe.

The Colorado River rafter operators follow safety measures. These range from certification of outfitters, rafts, and raft leaders, to more stringent regulations about equipment and procedures.

It is generally advisable to discuss safety measures with a rafting operator before signing on for a trip.

Like most outdoor sports, rafting in general has become safer over the years. Expertise in the sport has increased, and equipment has become more specialized and increased in quality.

As a result the difficulty rating of most river runs has changed. A good example would be the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon which has swallowed whole expeditions in the past, leaving only fragments of boats. It is now run safely by commercial outfitters hundreds of times each year with relatively untrained passengers.

There are both environmental and risky behavior dangers. Keeper hydraulics which include fallen trees, dams, under cut rocks and very high waterfalls. Moving water can always present risks.

Alcohol Irresponsible behavior due to intoxication while rafting has contributed to many accidents.

Rafting outfitters will ask you to sign a waiver indicating that you understand the dangers and risks of white water rafting. They will also present safety instructions to educate you about problems that could arise..Accidents are not common but


Return to Rafting Trips from White Water Rafting


Go back to top of page