List of whitewater rivers

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The Petawawa River is a popular whitewater river in Ontario, Canada.

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.






In the north, most rivers in India descend from the Himalayas, bringing with them ample rapids to encounter. North India

South India[edit]

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[edit]
  • 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+



  • 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)


United Kingdom[edit]

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,[1] 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.


Popular 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 popular 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


France (Corsica)[edit]

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.

Tara river, Kolašin, Mojkovac, Žabljak, Pljevlja, Plužine 130 km, Durmitor National Park Class 2-5

Moraca river, Kolašin, Podgorica, Class 2-5

Lim river, Plav, Andrijevica, Berane, Bijelo polje, Class 2-4

Cijevna, Podgorica, Class 3


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);


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,

North America[edit]


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.


  • 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

British Columbia[edit]




Northwest Territories[edit]

United States[edit]

Eastern rivers[edit]

Rivers in the eastern section of the United States are usually considered "technical," which means that due to lesser water volume, rafters and kayakers must often direct their craft through boulder-strewn sections of river, through narrow channels and shoals. This requires a degree of "river reading" skill, paddling precision, and understanding of hazards such as undercut rocks and strainers.


The following are some of the rivers in the Northeast that are popular.

New York[edit]

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 and therefore offers beautiful scenery and a somewhat wilderness experience.
  • 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 - 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
  • 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.
  • New River, Thurmond, West Virginia - Class III-V natural flow river.
  • Ocoee River, Ducktown, Tennessee – Site of 1996 Olympic Slalom Course at the Ocoee Whitewater Center.
  • Pigeon River (Tennessee – North Carolina), Tennessee - class III+ rapids, Dam released river with scheduled releases from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
  • 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[edit]

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.

Colorado and Utah[edit]
  • Animas River
  • Arkansas River - a big river, with many sections ranging from Class I to V, very 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. Something for everyone.
  • 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.[4]
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.
River flow information is available from the USGS and Pat Welch River gauges
River forecast data available through National Weather Service

Popular whitewater rivers in Oregon:[5][6]

  • 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))
    • 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
    • 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.




New Zealand[edit]

South America[edit]





  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Cassady, Jim; Calhoun, Fryar (1995). California Whitewater: A Guide to the Rivers (3 ed.). Berkeley, CA: Fieldston Co. ISBN 9780961365028. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w 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. 
  4. ^ Michael F. Anderson, Living at the Edge, 1998, Grand Canyon Association. ISBN 0-938216-55-4
  5. ^ "Oregon River Flows". Oregon Whitewater Association. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  6. ^ "Rivers". Oregon Kayaking. Retrieved 2011-10-16.