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What Do River Classifications Mean?

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

Many people are confused about what rapid classifications mean and what style of river adventure is appropriate for them and their family.

Cascadia Rafting offers the Sauk river which is a quick-moving long class three and sometimes class four river. We are also offering the Skagit river tour which does have one class 3 rapid however the majority of this river is a peaceful class one. .

River Rapid Classification

Class One:

Slow Smooth, some small waves, and a few avoidable rocks. No big deal.

Class Two:

Still pretty easy, lots of room to navigate between rocks and some splishy-splashy waves to the feet and legs. You can still bring grandma and the little ones.

Class Three:

Definitely moving faster now. There's gonna be some waves that will make their way into your boat. Paddling is a must to avoid hazards. You could fall out, but the current isn't strong enough to keep you from swimming back to your boat. Fun for slightly older kids but make sure they are prepared for it.

Class Four:

The sweet spot for most adventurers. The river has definitely picked up some speed. There's powerful currents and probably big waves. Rapids can be long yet still predictable and manageable for a trained guide. There will be hazards such as rocks and "holes", requiring quick action to avoid. There is a possibility of falling out, however odds of a quick rescue from a trained guide are also very good. Thrilling yet reasonable amount of risk for most adults, but maybe not for the little ones.

Class Five:

Only for the very advanced to expert paddler. Long violent rapids. Common features in a class five are narrow passages, large drops, huge churning waves which could "recycle" a swimmer. Definitely a chance to fall out and depending on the speed of the river, a quick rescue is not always guaranteed, injuries are probable.

Class Six:

This is for skilled professionals and Redbull athletes- probably not survivable for anyone else.

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