List of whitewater rivers
A whitewater river is any river where its gradient and/or flow create rapids or whitewater turbulence. This list only focuses on rivers which are suitable for whitewater sports such as canoeing, kayaking, and rafting.
- 1 Africa
- 2 Asia
- 3 Europe
- 3.1 United Kingdom
- 3.2 Alps
- 3.3 France (Corsica)
- 3.4 Greece
- 3.5 Italy (Apennines)
- 3.6 Montenegro
- 3.7 Norway
- 3.8 Portugal
- 3.9 Russia
- 3.10 Serbia
- 3.11 Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 3.12 Bulgaria
- 3.13 Romania
- 3.14 Croatia
- 3.15 Spain
- 3.16 Sweden
- 4 North America
- 4.1 Canada
- 4.2 United States
- 5 Oceania
- 6 South America
- 7 References
- Wa River is a popular whitewater rafting destination in the Nan Province of Thailand. It has rapids ranging from difficulty levels of 2 through 6.
- Wang Thong River is a popular whitewater rafting destination in the Phitsanulok Province of Thailand. It has rapids ranging from difficulty levels of 3 through 5.
In the north, most rivers in India descend from the Himalayas, the highest mountains on earth: cold glacial waters thunder down the rocks,bringing with them ample whitewater rapids to encounter. North India
- Zanskar, a Grand Canyonesque experience. Class III-IV. Gradings, as on all rivers, subject to change depending on volume of water.
- Brahmaputra River- This river begins in Tibet and winds its way towards Arunachal Pradesh, from whence it continues in a very steep gradient. Class V in high volume, but Class VI on some waterfalls that must be portaged. This area is a contested area between India and China and much paperwork is required to ride it.
Towards the south, all rivers originate from the Western Ghats. Most of them can only be paddled in the monsoon season (June–October), while some others can be paddled year round as they are dependent on dam releases. Only a small percentage of the rivers have recorded descents, and there is a vast potential for first descents.
Rivers in Karnataka
- Kali River, section near Dandeli. Class III-III+
- Cauvery, multiple sections, Bheemeshwari, Dubare, Hogenakkal Class II-II+
- Upper Barapole, in Coorg. Class III-IV. Very creekish river.
- Sitanadi, near Agumbe. Class III
- Kempuhole, near Sakleshpur. Class II-V.
- Bhadra, Class II-III
- Shishila, near Dharmasthala, Class II+
- Alas River, located in South Aceh, Aceh, Sumatra.
- Asahan River, located in North Sumatra, Sumatra. Class IV-V.
- Batang Tarusan River, located in Taratak, West Sumatra, Sumatra. Class II-IV.
- Manau River, located in Jambi, Sumatra.
- Manna River, located in Tanjung Sakti, Lahat, South Sumatra, Sumatra. Grade IV.
- Selabung River, located in Banding Agung, South Ogan Komering Ulu, South Sumatra, Sumatra.
- Citarik River, located in Mount Halimun National Park, West Java, Java.
- Serayu River, located in Wonosobo, Dieng Highlands, Central Java, Java. Class II-IV.
- Ayung River, located in Bali.
- Nimanga River, located in Timbukar, Minahasa, North Sulawesi, Sulawesi.
- Sa’dan River, located in Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi, Sulawesi. Grade III-IV.
- Padas, located in Sabah, Borneo. Class III-IV (during rainy season - class V).
- Kiulu, located in Sabah, Borneo. Class I-II
- (Kampar River @ Itik, located in Gopeng Perak, Malaysia. Class I1-V)
- (Selangor River, located in Kuala Kubu bahru, Selangor. Class II-V)
- (Sungkai River, located in Sungkai, perak, Malaysia. Class I-V)
- (Ulu Slim River, located at Slim Village, Perak, Malaysia. Class I-V)
- (Bernam River, Located in Tanjung malim, Perak, Malaysia. Class I-III)
- (Loh River, located in Ulu Dungun, Terengganu, Malaysia. Class II-VI)
- (Singoh River, located in Grik, Perak, Malaysia. class II-VI)
- (Sedim River, located in Kulim Kedah, Malaysia. Class II-V)
- Cagayan (de Oro) River, located in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Philippines. Class II-III (upper section - class IV). Whitewater tributaries include:
- Bubunaoan River, located in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon, Philippines. Class II-III
- Tumalaong River, located in Lingating, Baungon, Bukidnon, Philippines. Class II-III
- Kalawaig River, located in Talakag, Bukidnon, Philippines.
- Tagoloan River, located in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines. Class I-II (upper Tagoloan - Class II-IV)
- Malitbog River, located in Malitbog, Bukidnon, Philippines. Class II-III (creeking)
- Agusan River, located in Agusan, Cagayan de Oro city, Philippines. Class II-III (creeking)
- Jasaan (also known as Cabulig River) River, located in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines. Class II in lower section, Class II-III in middle section.
- Cabulaway River, located at Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, Philippines. Class I-III (creeking)
Whitewater rivers in the UK are typically low volume and technical. In England and Wales rivers are typically less than 20 m3/s, and some are run with less than 1 m3/s (usually these involve skidding the kayak down steep rockslides and small waterfalls). In Scotland there are also a few bigger volume (up to about 50 m3/s) rivers.
Almost all runs in England and Wales need recent rain to be at a paddleable level, and many can only be run immediately after heavy rain. In Scotland some bigger rivers can be run for weeks after rain although as with the rest of the country, most need recent wet weather. The paddling season is year-round but the rivers are more often runnable in winter (the wettest months of the year being December and January). Exceptions to this include rivers which have artificially maintained flows from reservoirs. On these rivers flow may increase in dry weather as more water is released. The Afon Tryweryn is one example in Wales.
Most runs offer only a few kilometres of whitewater; often several rivers can be run on a wet day. Some rivers consist of only a single rapid. Only a few rivers (such as the Findhorn and Spean in the Scottish Highlands) have more than a days' worth of paddling, and most of this tends to be grade III or less.
The River Dart excepted, there is no natural whitewater in the (mainly flat) south and east of England. Here whitewater paddlers often go playboating at man made weirs. Hurley weir on the River Thames west of London is probably the most popular. There are several artificial whitewater courses, where water is pumped or diverted though a concrete channel containing obstacles to create rapids. There is a 28 m3/s artificial whitewater course on the Trent at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham (at the National Watersports Centre), a 5 m3/s course on the Tees in Teesside, and smaller courses on the Nene at Northampton, and at Cardington.
In England Commercial rafting is limited to artificial whitewater courses (where it often provides the majority of the courses' income). Bigger and more reliable rivers can be found in Scotland and Wales, in particular the River Findhorn, River Orchy, River Spey, River Tay and the Afon Tryweryn.
There are several sites off the west coast of Britain where strong tidal currents channeled between islands create big volume sections of whitewater. These include the Bitches in Pembrokeshire in Wales, and the Falls of Lora on the west coast of Scotland.
Legal access to whitewater is a big issue in England and Wales. The law is currently unclear, resulting in two schools of thought followed.
- The first, followed by many anglers and the Anglers Association, states that rivers are almost all private and requires access agreements to be set up with the riparian owners. This means that the public are only allowed access to a tiny proportion of the available whitewater, and often this is restricted to a few months or even a few days per year. This also limits commercial operations and the activities of clubs. Agreements rarely exist as there is no incentive for the owners of rivers to let anyone else use them.
- Recently, legal research conducted by Rev Dr Douglas Caffyn, claims to have identified a public right of access on all navigable rivers in England and Wales in Common Law. In law a public right is a higher right than any private right, and so this outweighs the rights of the riparian owners in a court of law.
In Scotland, like most of the rest of the world, access to whitewater is legal and has never been illegal. It has been enshrined in law in the recent Scottish Land Reform act. The Right to Roam act in England explicitly excluded rivers. The British Canoe Union is running the Rivers Access Campaign to raise awareness and bring about changes in the law to permit public access to all inland rivers in England and Wales.
Whitewater rivers in the Alps are mainly medium volume glacier-fed rivers with long continuous rapids and few big drops. The season is short (two or three months in early summer when the snow and glaciers are melting) but the whitewater is reliable in this period. Tourists come from around Europe to kayak and raft–the most common centres are Briançon in the French Alps, the area around Landeck in Austria, and Bovec in Slovenia.
- Enns River, Schladming, Class 3-4
- Inn River Imst Gorge, Haiming, Class 3
- Inn River Landeck Gorge, Landeck, Class 4-5
- Saalach River, Lofer, Class 3-4
- Salzach River, Zell am See, Class 3-4
- Sanna River, Landeck, Class 4
- Dranse River, Morzine, Class 3-4
- Doron de Bozel River, Bourg St Maurice, Class 4-5
- Durance River, Embrun, Class 3
- Guisane River, Briancon, Class 3-4
- Isere River, Bourg St Maurice, Class 4
- Ubaye River, Barcelonnette, Class 4-5
- Dora Baltea River, Villeneuve, Class 3-4
- Noce River, Dimaro, Class 4-5
- Sesia River, Varallo Sesia, Class 2-4
For a brief three to six week period in March and April snowmelt runoff explodes down the steep gorges creating the ultimate destination for any rafter or kayaker. While the Corsican whitewater season is short, the rocky island offers
exciting whitewater in rivers such as Golo and Tavignano.
- Golo River, Ponte Leccia, Class 3-4
The best time to go rafting and kayaking in Greece is in Spring when the river flow and weather are ideal.
- Arachthos River, Arta, Class 2-4
- Kalaritikos River, Arta, Class 4
- Mileopotamos River, Grevena, Class 3-4
- Venetikos River, Grevena, Class 2-4
- Pinios River - Vernezi Route, Larissa, Class 3-4
- Aspropotamos River, Trikala, Class 3
Spring is the best time for rafting and kayaking in Southern Italy as the currents are stronger.
- Lao River, Laino Borgo, Class 3-4
Rivers in Montenegro all come from high mountains close to the sea. They have natural riverbeds with very different sections from steep creeking to large volume. They have best water in spring, but some are runnable throughout the year.
Norwegian whitewater rivers are typically steep pool-drop rivers with many waterfalls, and are run mainly by experienced kayakers. There are also bigger (sometimes glacier-fed) rivers which are sometimes rafted. The season lasts all summer, although some rivers only run after recent rain. Norwegian waterfalls regularly feature on extreme kayaking videos.
The best time for whitewater in Portugal is in Spring during the higher river flow.
- Paiva River - Praia do Vau to Espiunca, Arouca, Class 3-4
- Laboreiro River I - (Castro Laboreiro) Ameijoeira Bridge to Ribeiro de Baixo, class IV-V (X);
- Laboreiro River II - (Castro Laboreiro) Ribeiro de Baixo to Olelas, Class IV-V (X);
- Vez River I - Porta Cova (Sistelo) to Sistelo Bridge, Classe IV (V);
White water sport in Russia is quite popular, but the vast majority of people uses catamarans for these purposes. The best period for whitewater is May and July–August. Some rivers are possible to raft in June and September.
Here is a list of the most popular rivers:
- Peschanaya river - Class III
- Katun river - Class IV. One of the most volumed river in the region.
- Kumir, Korgon, Charysh rivers - Class IV. Normally, the trips include rafting down all three rivers.
- Chuya river - Class V (VI for Mazhoiskiy kaskad). The right tributary of Katun river. There are regular competitions down Chuya on the Mazhoyskiy kaskad part - the kanyon part of the river, which includes around 30 rapids, 10 of them are VI class.
- Bolshaya Sumulta, Malaya Sumulta rivers - Class V. Malaya Sumulta flows into Bolshaya Sumulta which is the tributary of Katun.
- Shavla river - Class V. Tributary of Argut.
- Chulyshman river - Class V (VI). The middle and down part contain three rapids V class and two VI class. The upper part contains seven VI class rapids. There is an opportunity of rafting down upper Bashkaus and middle-down Chulyshman (Class V).
- Bashkaus river - Class V (VI). The upper part has a number of IV class rapids and one V class. The down part is the one of the most difficult places for white water containing 11 rapids VI class. There river flows in 35 km kanyon without any opportunity of evacuation by land.
- Argut river - Class VI
- Kadrin river - Class VI
- Zun-Murin river - Class III
- Utulik river - Class IV (V)
- Khara-Murin river - Class IV (V)
- Snezhnaya river - Class IV (V)
- Bolshoy Zelenchuk river - Class II (IV)
- Kuban river - Class II (IV)
- Bolshaya Laba river - Class II (V)
- Belaya river - Class II (VI)
- Mzymta river - Class II (V)
- Psheha river - Class III
- Krasnenkaya river - Class III (IV)
- Kutsayoki river - Class III (IV)
- Tuntsayoki river - Class III
- Tumcha river - Class III
- Msta river - Class I (II)
- Bolshoy Honnamakit river - Class III (IV)
- Ayan river - Class III
- Kureyka river - Class IV
- Oran river - Class VI
- Bolshoy Yenisei (Biy-Hem) river - Class IV
- Ulug-O river - Class IV
- Ona, Abakan rivers - Class IV
- Oka river - Class IV
- Zhombolok river - Class IV (V). Tributary of Oka.
- Chuna (Uda) river - Class IV (VI)
- Kitoy river - Class V (VI)
- Onot river - Class VI
- Inzer (Bolshoi Inzer) river - Class II (III)
- Lemeza river - Class II (III)
- Kara river - Class IV. The river flows in Polar Ural. Usually, the trips also include Sibirchata-Yaha river.
- Ibar river is one of the most famous whitewater courses in this area. Section between Usce and Maglic is class III. Upper Ibar is in class III-IV.
Studenica river (left tributary of Ibar) is very attractive for whitewater kayaking (III-V)
- Lim river in canyon between Kumanica and Prijepolje, class III-IV. Lim is also very attractive near town Priboj.
- Veliki Rzav river class II-II+. It is one of the cleanest rivers in Serbia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Neretva river class 3
- Una river class 3-4
- Vrbas river class 3+
- Krivaja (Bosna) class 3-4
- Sutjeska river class 3-4
- Cerna river class 2-4
- Jiu river class 2-3 (lower section), class 3-3+ (upper section - Jiu canion)
- Buzau river class 2-3
- Nera river class 2+
- Basca Roziliei river class 3-3+
- Basca Mare river class 3-4
- Mreznica river class 2-3
Like the Alps whitewater in the Pyrenees is best in early summer when the snow and glaciers are melting.
- Ara River - Torla, Class 3-5
- Gallego River - Murillo de Gallego, Class 3-4
- Esera River - Campo (Huesca), Class 3-4
- Noguera Pallaresa River - Llavorsi to Rialp, Sort, Class 3-4
The Swedish whitewater rivers are mainly big water and is located in the middle and north parts of Sweden. One of the most spectacular rivers is Vindelaelven and particularly Trollforsarna III-VI, where one Euro cup competition was held in 2007.
The main information channel for Swedish white water is Forsguiden,
Canada has a varied terrain that supports many kinds of environments, with the majority of whitewater found in three areas: the mountainous Rockies in Alberta, the smaller Eastern forests of Quebec, Ontario, and some of the Maritimes, and the volcanic influenced geology of British Columbia. This creates the conditions necessary for whitewater: gradient, volume, and pressure. Like its neighbor to the south, First Nations had used the river systems as personal highways and built dugout canoes to run rapids; later French Canadian fur trappers used the same technique to collect beaver pelts and form small settlements.
Canadian whitewater rivers are characterized by the dramatic difference between the high water spring run-off and the summer low water volume; the classification of rapids therefore changes from spring to summer. It also is highly subject to the change of seasons, where many places are frozen solid by October and, for example, runs that are ready in late May in the neighboring US Pacific Northwest are still too dangerous to attempt in British Columbia or too cold: the spring run-off of the glaciers has either not finished or the landscape is not fully thawed.
Most of the land in Canada is not privately owned and likewise neither are the rivers. Many places in which water thunders through the terrain are on land that is either protected or very remote, so knowledge of first aid and the local wildlife is paramount. As with the United States to the South, rattlesnakes, grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, wolves, and two members of the lynx family are very much active at the height of rafting and kayaking season, and they do use the water as a source of food and sustenance. On multi day excursions in British Columbia or Alberta it is extremely important to know or learn to coexist with the grizzly bears that live there and may use some rapids for salmon fishing. Foreign visitors must learn to never take any food or anything with a sweet scent into their sleeping grounds and cook and eat many hundreds of yards away, hoisting all food supply or items that are perfumed, like soap, high on a branch hundreds of feet off the ground that is too slim to support the weight of a large brown bear. (These rules also apply for black bears in the East as well: both bears have excellent senses of smell and will not hesitate to rip open a tent to get something as simple as a breath mint.) They must also learn never to run away from predators as it attracts their attention. Dogs must be secured carefully in campsites at night as it is not safe for them to be outside by themselves.
- Bow River - Horseshoe Canyon, II - III
- Carbondale Creek, Southern Alberta
- Cascade Creek, Western Rockies, III - IV
- Castle River, Southern Albert
- Elbow River, Western Rockies, III+ - IV
- Highwood River, and tributaries, Southern Alberta
- Kakwa River, Northern Alberta
- Kananaskis River, Foothills, II - III
- Mosquito Creek - Western Rockies, II - III
- Mystia River, Western Rockies, II - III+
- North Saskatchewan River, Rockies to Plains, II - III
- Oldman River, Southern Alberta
- Pipestone River, Western Rockies, III - IV
- Red Earth Creek, Western Rockies, IV - V
- St. Mary River (Montana-Alberta), II - III
- Sheep River, Western Rockies, III+ - V
- Slave River, NWT Border, I-VI
- Smoky River, Northern Alberta
- Upper Bow - Western Rockies, Willys Rapid Section, III - IV
- Upper Red Deer River, Alberta foothills, II - III
- Waterton River, Southern Alberta
- Fraser River, British Columbia
- Alsek, British Columbia - Alaska
- Ashnola River, Keremeos, IV - IV+
- Babine River
- Capilano River
- Chehalis River
- Chilliwack River
- Coquitlam River
- Mamquam River
- Cheakamus River
- Dipper Creek, Squamish Valley, V+
- Kicking Horse River, III - IV
- Yoho River, Columbia Valley, IV - V
- Toby Creek, Columbia Valley, IV - V+
- Skookumchuck Creek, Columbia Valley, IV
- Upper Fraiser, Columbia Valley, III - IV
- Palliser River, Kootney Valley, III
- Albertson River, Kootney Valley, III - V
- Kootney River, Kootney Valley
- Thompson River, Central, III - IV-
- Stein River, Central, IV - V
- Nahatlatch River, Central, III - V
- Clear Water River, Central, III - IV
- Tatlow Creek, Coastal
- Ryan Creek, Coastal
- Soo River, Coastal, IV - V
- Callahan Creek, Coastal, V
- Kanu River, Coastal
- Homathko River, Coastal
- Dean River, Coastal
- Stikine River, Coastal, V - VI
- Englishman River, Island, III - IV
- Similkameen River, Princeton, II - III
- Niagara River This river is very dangerous. The Canadian side of the river has the largest of the three set of waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls, all rated Class VI: As with the American side of the river, the current is strong, the drop is high, and at the bottom the force of the falling water can slam a man underwater and churn him around like a washing machine where he never gets up for air and most likely will die. Niagara Gorge squeezes a large volume that rivals the Congo River in size of the water in spite of being smaller in area. It has two very large whirlpools and is a deathtrap for kayakers and all boaters. A person will be arrested if found below the falls as both the state of New York and the Province of Ontario agree that too many have died to allow it.
- Albany River
- Gull River III
- Ottawa River (at the Ottawa River Provincial Park near Whitewater Region, Ontario) III - IV
- Kesagami River
- Madawaska River III
- Magnetawan River
- Magpie River
- Missinaibi River
- Moose River
- Opeongo River
- Petawawa River III - IV
- Spanish River
- Wellandvale/Twelve Mile Creek, in planning stage Niagara Whitewater Park Association
- Coulonge River
- Bonaventure River
- Dumoine River
- Gens de Terre River
- Kipawa River
- Saint Lawrence River (Lachine Rapids), Montreal
- Moisie River
- Noire River
- Rouge River
- Rupert River
- Neilson River, IV - V
- Du Nord River, III - VI
- Doncaster River, III - IV
- Jacques-Cartier River (Taureau), IV - V, Québec City
- Jacques-Cartier River (Tewkesbury), III - IV, Québec City
- Saint-Charles River, III, Québec City
- Broadback River, I - VI
- Gatineau River, III - IV
- Mistassibi River, IV - V, Lac saint-jean
- South Nahanni River, Northwest Territories
- Kazan River
- Elaho River, [Unknown]
- Slave River, Alberta Border, Fort Smith - I-V
Like Canada, the United States offers varied terrain and conditions through which rivers pass, everything from the deserts of the southwest to glacial peaks in Alaska to Appalachian creeks that thunder through the glades to even a few that run right through the downtown sections of small cities and isolated hamlets. The geography is friendly to all whitewater disciplines depending on the particular river or creek, including rafts, canoes, kayaks, and more recently, paddleboards. In the past, Native Americans and later explorers like Lewis and Clark and [[John Frémont]] would run their canoes through the rapids and used the rivers like highways to trade and to travel between settlements.
Legally, most rivers and creeks are not privately held. They are the property of the nation and its people and are overseen by individual state governments and a handful of federal government agencies in Washington, DC like the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management. Dams may be held on a contract basis with the federal or state government, for example the energy company PG&E has dams in the Sierra Nevada range near Sacramento in California and this affects water volume. (Other entities like the Tennessee Valley Authority in the East have similar arrangements.) The Army Corps of Engineers and the operators of the dams themselves usually schedule releases in advance and this information is readily available to the public upon request.
Many whitewater rivers and creeks exist in rather rural or wild conditions when compared to parts of Europe and thus are located in places where animals can bite back or harm visitors, including children and dogs. (Some require a substantial hike through forest, desert, or mountains to reach the put in and cannot be reached by car at all.) In no particular order or regard to specific geography, they would include grizzly bears, black bears, moose, bull elk, porcupines, cougars, bobcats, more than 15 species of rattlesnakes on both sides of the Mississippi, scorpions, copperheads, water mocassins and coral snakes. Beavers are sometimes extant on rivers but prefer to build in the calmer sections where there are only minor riffles and their dams are easily portaged or surmounted. It is thus very wise to purchase a wildlife and wilderness guide before embarking on a trip. It is also must be understood by visitors from Europe that getting to a hospital in many cases can be difficult when one is not to be found for many miles and several rivers on both sides of the Mississippi and in Alaska are in areas that are roadless or at least remote. Advanced first aid knowledge is imperative.
Permits are required for certain rivers as a means of tracking who is on the river at a given time, how many people are out there, and these are available for a nominal fee. Littering while on the river is usually prohibited and can net a very heavy fine into the tens of thousands of dollars, plus have the net result of destroying habitat for several species.
Dogs, usually those weighing more than 14 kg, are a common sight on many trips where the rapids do not exceed class III+, though visitors from other countries should be made aware that such trips require a few things: vaccination against rabies, canine distemper, kennel cough, coronavirus, and Lyme disease, and the paperwork from the vet proving he has had them within the last six months. He has to be kept on a leash when not in the boat because if he is going to a place with wild beasts, he must be restrained lest he get himself into trouble: bears in particular will not hesitate to charge if a wandering pooch challenges them and neither will porcupines. For these reasons in all National Parks including the Grand Canyon, being off leash is absolutely forbidden. He needs to be able to obey his master and obey basic commands and in all watercraft he must have a life jacket so if he has to swim for it, he can doggy paddle to shore.
Rivers of the Eastern United States
Despite popular belief abroad, the Western USA is not the only place where there is true[clarification needed] whitewater in the country: there are several places in the East where the water roars, everything from big rivers like the Delaware River to creeks that dive over large waterfalls, many exceeding 30 feet (9.1 m). In fact, there used to be more of them but over time some of these have been dammed or altered; the upper portions of the Mississippi River near St. Paul Minnesota, for example, used to have very large rapids and several waterfalls. As of 2018, many of these dams are being removed or in talks to be removed as new and better ways of hydroelectric power and newer techniques of flood control are being explored.
Rivers in the eastern section of the United States are usually considered "technical" for a few reasons: first, unlike in the West, large portions of the East were cut through by glaciers long ago. This makes several rivers have rockier bottoms rather than the sandy bottoms of the West. Second, water volume: the volume is lower in the East. Rafters, canoers, and kayakers must often direct their craft through boulder-strewn sections of river, through narrow channels, squeezes, and shoals. Third, vegetation: unlike the more famous rivers like the Colorado, Eastern rivers tend to cut through temperate forests: if a tree falls down on the riverbank, improvisation is a must. All of this requires a degree of "river reading" skill, paddling precision, and understanding of hazards such as undercut rocks, strainers, and how to get unpinned from surprise obstacles.
The following are some of the rivers in the Northeast that are popular.
- Ashuelot River, New Hampshire, Class 3-4
- Bearcamp River, New Hampshire, Class 2-4
- Contoocook River, New Hampshire, Class 3-4
- Dead River, Maine, Class 3-5
- Deerfield River, Vermont and Massachusetts, Class 2-5. Navigable from spring until just before Halloween, when the water begins to freeze. First rafting companies set up here in the 1980s.
- Farmington River, Massachusetts and Connecticut, Class 3
- Gale River, New Hampshire, Class 1-4
- Gauley River, West Virginia, Class 4-5+
- Genessee River, New York, Class 2-3.
- Housatonic River, Connecticut, Class 1-5
- Kennebec River, Maine, mostly Class 2-4
- Lehigh River, Whitehaven to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania - a 24-mile (39 km) run, through a gorge, Class 3; in high water this is a Class 4 run.
- Millers River, Massachusetts, Class 3
- Nescopeck Creek, Pennsylvania, Class 2-3
- Potomac River, Maryland/Virginia, Class 2-5+. There are two sections of this river that are of note, one to the west, the other far to the east. The first set is the Great Falls of the Potomac. This is only 15-mile (24 km) 15 miles upriver from Washington DC and drops 76 feet (23 m) in less than a mile. This section of the river should not be attempted by beginners as the rapids are class V and the waterfalls are large enough to drown a man that can't get out from under them in time: people have died here for that reason and never make it to the equally difficult Mather Gorge. The second, western section is close to Harper's Ferry, class III.
- Penobscot River, Maine, Class 3-5
- Quaboag River, Massachusetts, Class 3
- Rapid River, Maine, Class 4
- Rockaway River, Boonton, New Jersey, Class 4; only a 1-mile (1.6 km) section can be paddled but the gradient is a 120 feet (37 m) for the mile, with the staircase rapids along Rt. 287 reaching 40 feet (12 m) drop in a quarter of a mile.
- Saco River, New Hampshire, Class 3-4
- Swift River, New Hampshire, Class 2-4, 3 sections; Bear Notch Road to Upper Falls, Class 2, Upper Falls to Lower Falls, Class 3, Lower Falls to national forest entrance on Kancamagus Highway, Class 3-4
- West River, Vermont - class 2-3, Ball Mountain to Salmon Hole, Class 3, Salmon Hole to Route 100, Class 2.
- Westfield River, Massachusetts, Class 1-4; 40 miles (64 km) of varying difficulty including Pork Barrel and Knightville
- Winhall River, Vermont, Class 3
- Youghiogheny River, Pennsylvania/Maryland; Upper Yough (From Sang Run to Friendsville, MD), Class 4-5; Lower Yough (From Ohiopyle, PA, to Bruner's Run), Class 2-4.
- Black River, Watertown - Class III-V
- Delaware River - Class I-II. Further down the river also has a few rapids as well that can swell to III in wet weather.
- Esopus Creek - Class II-IV
- Genessee River
- Grasse River - Upper section, Class IV - V
- Hudson River, North Creek - Class I-IV. This stretch of the river is absolutely nothing like the much tamer brackish portions near New York City or the sleepy middle sections more suitable to rowboats and fishermen; It is a fast wild ride through a large gorge in a state park. The Hudson River has its origins in a wild area of upstate New York near Mount Marcy, 240-mile (390 km) away from the giant metropolis nearer to the sea and it is actually 75-mile (121 km) from the border with Quebec, Canada. Closer to its origins it is a kayaker's dream, with many neighboring creeks shooting down over waterfalls in the spring and rafters get a decent thrill in the gorge.
- Middle Branch Oswegatchie River - Bryants Bridge and Sluice Falls sections, Class IV - V
- Mongaup River - Class II-III; about 3-mile (4.8 km)
- Moose River, Old Forge - Class IV-V+
- Niagara River (Whirlpool Rapids) - Class V+, considered by many to be the ultimate whitewater rapids in North America and illegal to kayak in by the laws of both the United States and Canada; this river is listed as one of the 5 deadliest rivers in the world to kayak on and nobody has legally attempted it since the 1980s. The swells below the waterfall can get extremely high and even the most advanced kayakers have lost control and drowned. As one might expect, the falls are not runnable at all and those who attempt to go down them largely die: it is simply not advisable to even attempt it.
- Raquette River - Class III - IV+
- Sacandaga River, Lake Luzerne- Class II-III
- Salmon River - Class I-III
- Ten Mile Creek - Class I-III; about 10 miles (16 km)
Some signature streams in the southeastern United States include:
- Chattooga River, Georgia / South Carolina - sports long, challenging rapids, big drops, and thunderous power; this river can be a challenge for even experts; the Chattooga was one of the rivers used for the filming of the 1973 adventure movie, Deliverance. It is designated as a Wild and Scenic River.
- Cheat River, West Virginia - Class IV.
- French Broad River, Asheville, North Carolina - featuring a long run of varying difficulty, from flatwater runnable in a canoe to class IV rapids near Hot Springs, North Carolina and the border with Tennessee. The main drawbacks are that the water tends to be muddy or polluted and it is a natural flow river.
- Gauley River, Summersville, West Virginia - Nicknamed "The Beast of the East." Has huge rapids, especially at the "Fall Drawdown" (when the reservoir is drained) is a world-class ride; many of them listed as Class V; the Upper Gauley, from Summersville to Mason's Branch, is the tougher section; the Lower Gauley, from Koontz' Flume to Swiss, is still a Class-IV river with significant hazards; navigating the Upper and Lower Gauley in a single day is called "the Gauley Marathon," twenty-six miles of big rapids and paddling.
- Green River, Asheville, North Carolina - the Green Narrows is the steepest "creek run" with regular activity in the Eastern U.S; with a gradient that reaches 600 feet/mile over one short section, The Narrows is a series of blind waterfalls and tight slots; regular, predictable releases from the Tuxedo Hydro Plant upstream draw paddlers on a regular basis.
- James River, Richmond, Virginia - Urban whitewater; Class IV. Good for beginners in upper part and a decent river for practice for the more advanced. This river was named for James VI and I and was one of the first to ever be navigated by British settlers; much farther downriver the water becomes quieter and brackish and leads straight to the spot where the fort of Jamestown was built and the archaeological site still stands.
- Linville Gorge, Western North Carolina - This runs right through Pisgah National Forest and has Class V rapids; it is a creek run suitable for kayakers and small canoes but it is too small for rafts. Approximately 17 miles long and not recommended at all for novices as it is one of the most difficult runs in the east. Very steep gorge walls make escape in an accident impossible. Deaths have occurred for those who overestimate their skills.
- Nantahala River, Bryson City, North Carolina - a relatively gentle river, with the final rapid having the propensity to send paddlers in for a cold, exhilarating swim; suitable for beginners and families with younger children.
- New River, Thurmond, West Virginia - Class III-V natural flow river. Passes through portions of Monongahela National Forest.
- Ocoee River, Ducktown, Tennessee – Site of 1996 Olympic Slalom Course at the Ocoee Whitewater Center. A very good river for both novices and more advanced paddlers. Gets its name from passiflora incarnata, the maypop, a very close relative of the commercial passionfruit that is a common edible garden plant in the South and was introduced as a source of food to settlers by tribes like the Cherokee. This plant is still found in thickets near the river.
- Pigeon River (Tennessee – North Carolina), Tennessee - class III+ rapids, Dam released river with scheduled releases from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This river runs right through Cherokee National Forest and is not far from Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
- Russell Fork, this class V river drops 150 feet (46 m) per mile in the Russell Fork Gorge, which has been described as a continuous forty-five degree waterfall; it has dangerous rapids, even experienced paddlers have died in its many undercut rocks, and there have been many close calls; for the most experienced rafters and kayakers only.
- Watauga River, mostly cold and clear water Class I-II rapids with the exception of the Bee Cliff Rapids following scheduled high volume reservoir releases during summer months from the Tennessee Valley Authority Wilbur Dam flowing through Elizabethton, Tennessee (Northeast Tennessee); also upstream of both TVA Wilbur Dam and Watauga Dam as a separate, non-commercial run beginning in North Carolina to Johnson County, Tennessee above Watauga Lake; Class IV-V.
West Coast rivers
In the western United States, the more noted rivers, such as the Grand Canyon have much greater water volume and therefore require a different set of paddling skills. Western rafters also navigate many small, low volume rivers, some with much steeper descents than eastern rivers; however, since the mountains are newer in the west, the hazard from undercut rocks, a problem in the east, is replaced by more frequent log jams precipitated by logging activities near the rivers.
The big-water rivers usually do not require the precision paddling of smaller rivers, but have larger rapids and longer wilderness trips due to the greater length and water flow of the big rivers. The smaller rivers and creeks boated by most rafters offer many one- or two-day trips with difficulty levels from I to VI.
In the West, some paddlers start on the American in California and work their way up to the Rogue and Illinois in Oregon, the Tuolumne (California), the Salmon in Idaho, the Snake, and then the big-water rivers like the Green and Colorado through the Grand Canyon (Arizona), the Fraser in British Columbia, and many Alaskan streams.
Several rivers in California are fed by the snowmelt of the Sierra Nevada mountain range as well as natural springs in high mountainous areas; some rivers flow directly through protected land and foreign visitors should be advised that early spring runs can be very dangerous; the normal classification cranks up much higher turning some runs into death traps for even Olympic level whitewater enthusiasts.
- American River
- Carson River
- Cherry Creek This is easily one of the most difficult rivers in the country. This run is in remote country where if one is injured, the hospital cannot be accessed easily and first aid know how is imperative. The only way to reach the headwaters is on a hike through Stanislaus National Forest in the Sierra Nevada and large parts of the river should only be attempted by experienced kayakers and canoers. The water runs through many miles of solid vertical granite rock and has several waterfalls, some over ten feet high. There are rafting companies that will take visitors on a piece of the river, but they will not permit people to get in the raft until they prove they can swim. Kayakers must be able to eskimo roll and rescue skills strongly recommended for both canoers and kayakers.
Cherry Creek should never be run before the end of May: before that the snowpack is not finished melting and because there is no way out of vertical sections like Cherry Bomb Gorge, a kayaker will most likely die as the water breaches class VI+.
- Cosumnes River
- Eel River
- Feather River
- Kaweah River
- Kern River
- Kings River This is one of the less crowded rivers in California, but by no means should it be ignored. It gets its name from Spanish, El Rio de los Santos Reyes, or River of the Holy Kings since Spanish explorers discovered it on the Feast of the Epiphany and the name stuck when it was translated later to English. Portions of this river end up in Kings Canyon National Park and much of the surrounding land is protected. The Middle and South Forks of the River have the most advanced whitewater including the tributary Dinkey Creek and Garlic Falls, a large series of waterfalls. Parts of this river are only accessible by horseback or on foot.
- Merced River
- Klamath River
- Mokelumne River
- Napa River
- Russian River
- Sacramento River
- Smith River
- Stanislaus River
- Trinity River
- Truckee River
- Tuolumne River
Colorado and Utah
- Animas River
- Arkansas River - a big river, with many sections ranging from Class I to V, popular with kayakers and with commercial rafting companies. Numerous runs of all difficulty. Probably the most frequently run and one of the best rivers in Colorado.
- Boulder Creek
- Cache La Poudre River - Colorado's only federally designated Wild and Scenic River contains sections appropriate for every level of expertise including an easy Class II section, several Class III and Class-IV sections, as well as some Class V. There is a Class VI waterfall that is very dangerous because the last drop is unrunnable. The water pours off a slab into a 2-foot (0.61 m)-wide crack and grinds anything that goes into it.
- Clear Creek (Colorado)
- Colorado River
- Gore Canyon - a Class-IV reach with two significant Class-V rapids. The Gore Canyon run is 9.5 miles (15.3 km) long and is recommended to be run by advanced kayakers between 700 cu ft/s (20 m3/s) and 2,000 cu ft/s (57 m3/s).
The first Class V, Gore Rapid, is tighly surrounded by several large Class-IV rapids. Most of the water flows to the river-left side of the rapid, where a very nasty and very sticky hydraulic runs into a large rock. The second Class-V Rapid, Tunnel Rapid, consists mostly of a single large ledge. On the right side of the rapid is a very nasty and very sticky hole that is bordered by a large rock on the left preventing people from exiting. On the left side of the ledge, the water is redirected right back into the large hole. The water is redirected by an undercut rock. Toilet bowl rapid forms a retentive hydraulic. Kirschbaum rapid (Class IV) is harder to scout due to its long runout and difficult travel on river right. Kirschbaum has some excellent waves that can hide holes. Gore Canyon Classic whitewater race is THE Classic Class Five Whitewater Race in Colorado. Usually held in late August, sponsored and very competitive. Racing divisions consist of various whitewater kayak classes, whitewater raft teams and more.
- ""Pumphouse"": Class III year round 12-mile (19 km) reach of river taking out near Rancho del Rio. This meandering run is launched from the Pumphouse BLM facility which lies at the terminus of Gore Canyon. Rapids include Eye of the Needle, Radium and Yarmony.
- I-70 Section - Class-III big water, pushy at times. Dewatered in various sections by the Colorado Division of Water Resources and the water-thirsty inhabitants of the front range.
- "Barrel Springs" - Class IV+ (P) for flows below 2,000 cu ft/s (57 m3/s), and Class V+ (P) for flows over 6,000 cu ft/s (170 m3/s). The Barrel Springs run is about two miles (3 km) long and sits between Hanging Lake Dam and the Shoshone Power Plant. The two big rapids are Upper Death (aka: Kayakers Nightmare) and Life After Death, and the last rapid to mention for this run is Barrel Springs rapid.
- ""Shoshone"": When the Colorado River winds through Glenwood Canyon, more mellow kayaking and rafting can be enjoyed for this less than two mile (3 km) run. Shoshone is a popular play run for kayakers and commercial rafting companies. More consistent flows bless Shoshone.
- Cataract Canyon: Varies in class from III to V. At over 50,000 cubic feet per second (1,400 m3/s), Cataract Canyon becomes class V. The first 48 miles (77 km) from Potash boat ramp are flat water. Four miles (6 km) after the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers Cataract Canyon begins. Major John Wesley Powell navigated the rapids in 1869 and gave Cataract Canyon its name. Cataract Canyon slices its way through Canyonlands National Park. Prior to becoming a National Park in 1964, Canyonlands and particularly Cataract Canyon was a "no man's land". French-American trapper Denis Julien made his way up the canyon in 1836 and left his inscription near the confluence or the Green and Colorado Rivers, and at many other places upstream.
- Spring runoff from the Uinta, Wasatch, and the western fronts of the Rocky Mountains combines to create some of the most exciting whitewater in North America. Flows have been gauged at over 110,000 cubic feet per second (3,100 m3/s) in 1984. This is much larger than in the Grand Canyon where water is released from the Glen Canyon Dam and therefore regulated. In an average year Cataract Canyon will peak at 35,000 cubic feet per second (990 m3/s) which creates 32 rapids (depending on water levels in Lake Powell). At over 50,000 cubic feet per second (1,400 m3/s) the rapids from rapid 14 through rapid 24 form some of the most awe inspiring whitewater in North America.
- Dolores River
- Green River
- Gunnison River
- Los Pinos River
- North Platte River
- Roaring Fork River
- South Platte River
- Yampa River
- Kootenai River
- Lochsa River
- Middle Fork Salmon River - Class III-IV
- North Fork Payette River
- Salmon River main stem - Class III-IV
- Snake River
- Payette River main stem
- Clarks Fork Yellowstone River
- Gallatin River
- Madison River
- Stillwater River
- Boulder River
- Yellowstone River
- Middle Fork of the Flathead
- Big Timber Creek
- Sun River
- River flow information is available from the USGS and Pat Welch River gauges
- River forecast data available through National Weather Service
- Alsea River, Upper North Fork (Class 3 (5))
- Blue River (Oregon), (Class 4 (5))
- Breitenbush River (Class 4)
- Bull Run River - Site of slalom course
- Calapooia River, the upper upper section (Class 3 (4))
- Clackamas River - Year-round water, proximity to Portland, and a range of runs make this a popular river.
- Barton to Carver (Class 2)
- Carver to Clackamette (Class 2)
- Bob's to Memaloose (Class 2)
- Fish Creek to Bob's (Class 3-4) - runnable year round (in kayaks, canoes, and rafts)
- Three Lynx to Fish Creek (Class 3-4) - runnable winter through late Spring most years.
- Killer Fang (Class 4)
- June Creek (Class 4)
- Collawash River
- Middle (Class 3+ to 4)
- Upper section (Class 4+ to 5-)
- Coquille River
- Black Rock Fork of the South Fork (Class 4 (5))
- Brewster Canyon, East Fork Coquille (Class 5)
- Lower (Class 3-4)
- South Fork (Coal Creek Canyon) (Class 4 (5))
- Upper South Fork (The Gem) (Class 5)
- Upper Upper South Fork (Cataract Canyon) (Class 5+ to 6)
- Crooked River (Class 4)
- Deschutes River
- Canyon Run (class 4 (5))
- Lower Deschutes (Class 3)
- Riverhouse Run (Class 4)
- Dillon Falls to Meadow Camp (Class 4 (5))
- Upper Upper - Benham Falls (Class 5)
- Grande Ronde River
- Hood River
- Upper Middle Fork (Class 4-4+)
- Upper East Fork (Class 4+)
- Illinois River (Class 4+ - 5)
- John Day River
- Little River upper section (Class 4 (5))
- McKenzie River headwaters (Class 4-5)
- Middle Santiam River concussion run (Class 4)
- Molalla River
- Table Rock Fork (Class 3 (4))
- Three Bears (Class 3 (4))
- North Fork (Class 4+)
- Table Rock Fork Gorge (Class 4 - 5)
- Nehalem River
- North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River
- Miracle Mile (Class 5)
- Headwaters (Class 5)
- Lower Gorge (Class 4)
- North Santiam River
- Niagara section (Class 3, 4, 5)
- Little North Santiam River
- Opal Creek headwaters (Class 4 - 5)
- Upper Opal Creek (Class 4+)
- Lower Opal Creek (Class 4 (5))
- Opal Gorge (Class 4 - 5)
- Owyhee River
- Lower Canyon (Class 3)
- Upper Canyon (Class 4 (5))
- Roaring River (Clackamas River) (Class 4+ - 5)
- Rogue River This river was one of about four that was selected for filming The River Wild. A good challenge for intermediate kayakers. Excellent fishing location and source is located close to Crater Lake.
- Middle Fork Gorge (Class 4+ - 5)
- North Fork, Natural Bridge Section (Class 4 (6))
- North Fork, Mill Creek Section: (Class 4+)
- North Fork, Takilma Gorge (Class 4+)
- Salmon River (Class 5-5+)
- Salmonberry River (Class 3+ (5, 6))
- Sandy River Gorge (Class 4)
- Sandy Gorge (Class 5 (6))
- Revenue Bridge to Dodge Park
- Dodge Park to Oxbow Park
- Oxbow to Columbia (Class 2)
- Siletz River North Fork (Class 3-4)
- Smith River
- Hole Gorge (Class 4)
- Lower South Fork Gorge (Class 4+)
- Upper South Fork Gorge (Class 5)
- South Santiam River
- Soda Fork (Class 5)
- Monster Section (Class 4 (6))
- Mountain House Section: (Class 5)
- South Umpqua River Three Falls Section (Class 3 (4-5))
- Umpqua River
- White River
- Lower (Class 3 (4))
- Upper (Class 3 - 4 (4))
- Celestial Gorge (Class 6)
- Wilson River, Devil's Lake Fork (Headwaters Run) (Class 4+)
The most popular runs in Washington are listed below.
- Canyon Creek
- East Fork of the Lewis River
- Green River
- Icicle Creek
- Little White Salmon River
- Skookumchuck Narrows
- Skykomish River
- Snoqualmie River
- Washougal River
- Wenatchee River - Tumwater Canyon
- Wind River
- White Salmon River
- North Johnston River North, QLD
- Tully River North, QLD
- Baron River, Cairns
- Penrith White water stadium, NSW
- Nymboida River, Northern NSW
- Mitta Mitta River, victoria
- Franklin River, Tasmania
- Rio Napo (Napo River) Class 3
- Rio Misahualli (Misahualli River) Class 2
- Chili River (near Arequipa)
- "Restoring rapids to the Mississippi river gorge". Friends of the Mississippi River. 2018-04-09. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
- Cassady, Jim; Calhoun, Fryar (1995). California Whitewater: A Guide to the Rivers (3 ed.). Berkeley, CA: Fieldston Co. ISBN 9780961365028.
- Cassady, Jim; Cross, Bill; Calhoun, Fryar (1994). Western Whitewater from the Rockies to the Pacific: A River Guide for Raft, Kayak, and Canoe (1 ed.). Berkeley, CA: North Fork Press. ISBN 9780961365042.
- Michael F. Anderson, Living at the Edge, 1998, Grand Canyon Association. ISBN 0-938216-55-4
- "Oregon River Flows". Oregon Whitewater Association. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
- "Rivers". Oregon Kayaking. Retrieved 2011-10-16.