The Best Rafting Rivers for Experts
Rafting the White water rapid
ON THE EDGE: Getting ready for the big drop  (Photodisc/Getty)
Whitewater Classifications Explained:
Class I: Flat, moving water, including some small rapids with low waves.
Class II: Anything that can swamp a canoe.
Class III: Rapids start to become technical and have penalties for mistakes. A swim will be rough.
Class IV: Rapids become bigger, more technical, and the penalty for error bumps up a notch.
Class V: Rapids are intense, and the penalty for error can be classified as a potentially dangerous swim.
Class VI: Not runnable due to the severity of one or many objective hazards.

When we say expert, we mean two types of river trips (and these are not mutually exclusive): rivers that feature the nation's toughest runnable rapids, up to Class V; and river expeditions that require the highest levels of skill and stamina to navigate unforgiving—yet undeniably awesome—terrain. Some rivers, like the American in California, are almost schizophrenic in their whitewater composition, with rambunctious Class IV-V gauntlets melding quickly into all-access floats. Others, like the Chattooga, boil along at a steady Class IV and only really bare their teeth after a good rain. What’s the best way to find out? Build up your skills and get to know each of these picks personally. Note that anyone considering a trip on these rivers should have had prior experience on at least Class IV water.

American River, California
Animas River, Colorado
Chattooga River, Georgia/South Carolina
Colorado River (Cataract Canyon), Utah
Deschutes River, Oregon
Flathead River, Montana
Gauley River, West Virginia
Kern River, California
Lochsa River, Idaho
Moose River, New York
Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River, Kentucky
Stanislaus River, California
Tuolumne River, California
Upper Youghiogheny River, Maryland
White Salmon River, Washington

Published: 10 Jun 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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