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The Best Places to Go Whitewater Rafting in the US

Jul/28/2022 / by ANUSUIYA MEHROTRA

For the adrenaline junkies, rafting is just not a way of traveling down a river in a raft.

Making way through choppy waters, you need to paddle through with double blades. The carbon blades used in whitewater rafting helps you paddle smoothly.

Whitewater rafting relies on race other teams on an inflatable raft. However, the thrill is not lost one bit if you do it just for adventure and not as part of a competition. Such rafting is done on ‘white water’ – or rough waters.

The essential equipment are life jackets, used for the safety of the rafters; a jacket that comes in all sizes. It should fit well so that the upper part of the body stays afloat if a rafter falls in the water, which is not so uncommon. Another necessary gear is a helmet. The rafters wear them to prevent head injuries. It is important to wear a helmet that fits well. If the water is cold, rafters wear wetsuits to ensure insulation. An essential item is a rescue throw bag. They are used to help any rafter who falls into the water, again a common occurrence. The unit consists of a rope, one end of which is attached to the bag, and the other is in the hands of a rescuer.

‘American Whitewater’ has put together an international rating scale of river difficulty. It depends on water channel size, the strength of the waves, degree of obstructions present, and ease of swimming and self-rescue. The classification of rapids ranges from Class 1 through Class VI.

rafting in the Salmon River in Idaho
Salmon River in Idaho

Class I rapids are almost flat water, which is either calm or has minimum ripples. Very few obstacles are present on such the course, which is considered an easy level. A beginner can also participate in it.

Class II rapids have small to medium-sized waves with few instructions, which are noticeable by a newcomer as well. They are considered harder to perform in than Class I rapids.

Class III rapids are of intermediate-level difficulty. These have medium-sized but irregular waves, including obstructions such as small falls, or counter currents that make the trip more adventurous.

Class IV rapids are advanced level and calls for the required skills. Here you might encounter large and irregular turbulent waves, and the course would include falls, drops, counter currents, and eddies.

Class V rapids call for strong skills. They include turbulent and continuous waves that flow over long distances. Obstacles such as steep gradients, drops, holes are present and are dangerous.

Class VI rapids pose an extraordinary danger and a minor paddling mistake can be fatal. The waves are turbulent and erratic, and the obstructions require a lot of skill to negotiate.

These are the top destinations for whitewater rafting in the U.S.:

  1. Snake River

Snake River in Wyoming is one of the best choices for whitewater rafting. The rapids here usually range from Class II-III, making it an adventurous experience for anyone interested. However, during spring, it reaches Class IV rapids. One gets to experience the Jackson Hole as well, a major tourist attraction. The route passes through a variety of beautiful forests and mountains, and you can spot a variety of wildlife, making it a must for visitors.

rafting in the COLORADO RIVER
  1. Colorado River

Colorado River in Arizona is an excellent choice for whitewater rafting. Since it passes through the Grand Canyon, rafters can also appreciate the scenic views. The rapids here range from Class III through V, making it suitable to beginners as well as experts.

  1. Gauley River

Gauley River in West Virginia is one of the best destinations for an experienced whitewater rafter. The rapids here are Class V+, giving the visitors an extremely adventurous time. It is considered the home of East Coast rafting culture, and attracts rafters from all around the world.

rafting in the snake river
  1. Salmon River

Salmon River in Idaho is a very well-known place for whitewater rafting. There are rapids from Class III to IV, providing a roller-coaster experience. Salmon River also has great natural hot springs and campsites.

  1. Arkansas River

Arkansas River, found in both in Colorado and Arkansas, is a wonderful destination for rafters. Most of the rapids are Class III, thereby allowing the rafters to experience a leisurely float and a few thrilling rapids. It flows through glacial valleys and gorges, allowing rafters to enjoy the beautiful scenery. You can also hike and bike in the Rockies, so people interested in these adventure sports can have options.

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