Banff Whitewater Rafting Class Levels and Descriptions

BANFF, ALBERTA – Canada – The Kicking Horse River, one of the most famous rivers for whitewater rafting in the Canadian Rockies, offers a range of rafting experiences for adventurers of all skill levels. Relax and enjoy the scenic views of Canada’s Yoho National Park, or try your hand at more difficult rapids with Banff Rafting.

We use an international scale that rates individual rapids from Class I (Beginner) to Class VI (Professional) to help you choose the right trip for you. Read on for more information about the whitewater rafting class levels offered on the Kicking Horse River in Banff, Alberta.

Class I

“Definition: Very relaxing.”

Gentle, moving water. Very small waves requiring little or no maneuvering.

Class II

“Definition: You may get splashed.”

Regular waves, easy to see, may reach 3 to 4 feet in height. Avoiding rocks, river bends or other obstacles may require simple maneuvering.

Class III

“Definition: You will get wet!”

Large, continuous series or sets of waves, some in excess of 6 feet. “Holes” or “hydraulics” may be present, and can be run or avoided. Small drops, ledges or waterfalls may be present. Scouting the rapids (which means to examine the rapids, either from the raft or from the bank of the river, in order to plan the best route through them) is suggested.

Class IV

“Definition: Forget wet, you’ll be soaked!”

Confused and erratic waves or holes. Large obstructions need to be avoided in what are referred to as “must moves.” Risk of injury if swimming without a raft. Very difficult and scouting is required.

Class V

“Definition: Adrenaline junkies only!”

For most people, Class V goes off the “fun” scale and enters the “kinda scary” scale! Very challenging for even the most experienced rafters. High risk of capsize or injury. Limit of navigation and scouting is essential.

Class VI

“Definition: Niagara Falls in a barrel!”

Virtually non-navigable, or navigable only at particularly favorable river levels.

REMEMBER! This scale is subjective. Rapids can change in difficulty seasonally and as quickly as overnight.