The Different Classes of Rapids Explained

Whitewater Rafting Colorado

Rafting in Colorado comes in many different forms. Ranging from a float trip to very technical and advanced trips. Finding the perfect trip for your group is ideal. The rafting trips are broken down into different Classes. Starting at Class I (less difficult) to Class V (most difficult). When identifying different classes keep these descriptions in mind.

Class I: Moving water with a few small waves. Few or not obstructions.

Class II: Easy rapids with smaller waves, clear channels that are obvious without scouting. Some maneuvering might be required.

Class III: Rapids with high, irregular waves. Narrow passages that often require precise maneuvering.

Class IV: Long, difficult rapids with constricted passages that often require complex maneuvering in turbulent water. The course may be hard to determine and counting is necessary.

Class V: Extremely difficult, long and very violent rapids. Upper limit for commercial rafting.

Class VI: are considered extremely dangerous and un-runnable. These rapids have a high possibility of serious injury or death.

Arkansas Valley Adventures has 3 main outposts throughout Colorado with various sections of whitewater for everyone!

For a beginner rafter Class I – Class III trips will be the best option.

Kremmling, CO – Upper Colorado Scenic Float Trip (½ Day OR Full Day Adventure) Great for families! This trip is mainly going to be a scenic float, with a 20 to 30-minute section of Class II whitewater. On the Colorado River you will see gorgeous views of Gore Mountain Range, old minding homes, wildlife, and even a stop at Radium Hot Springs.

Idaho Springs, CO – Gold Rush (1/3 Day Adventure) Best for younger children and guests who have not been rafting before. Class II and Class III rapids will be splashy and a lot of fun for all ages!

Buena Vista, CO Browns Canyon (½ Day OR ¾ Day OR Full Day Adventure) With trip lengths ranging from 10 miles to 16 mile through Browns Canyon there is a day trip for everyone! Browns Canyon gives you the best of both worlds; fantastic views of Browns National Monument and thrilling Class III rapids.

For an intermediate rafter/ guests age 15+ we have Class III – Class IV trips available.

Idaho Springs, CO – Upper Clear Creek (½ Day Adventure) Best trip for intermediate rafters or beginners who are in good physical shape and looking for more adventure! Class IV rapids will have you paddling hard and getting soaked along the way.

Idaho Springs, CO – Outer Limits (¾ Day Adventure) Looking for a longer trip?! Outer Limits gets both Class III and Class IV rapids. With a delicious lunch from Smokin’ Yards BBQ riverside this trip is great for intermediate rafters looking for a day packed with fun!

Buena Vista, CONumbers (½ Day OR Full Day Adventure) The numbers section of the Arkansas River is jam packed with continuous Class IV rapids. Be ready to paddle hard, get splashed, and have a great time on the water!

For advanced rafters/ guests age 15+ we have Class IV- Class V trips available.

Idaho Springs, CO – Lower Canyon (½ Day Adventure) Class V rapids close to Denver. Guests are able to get high class whitewater and a fun, adventurous trip only an hour outside of Denver!

Idaho Springs, CO – Phoenix (Full Day Adventure) Looking for a full day packed with various class II – class V rapids? This trip takes you down all three sections of whitewater offered on Clear Creek. A great lunch from Smokin’ Yard BBQ is provided to keep you fueled up for the day.

Buena Vista CO – Pine Creek (½ Day or Full Day Adventure) The Pine Creek section of the Arkansas River is one of the most sought-after sections of white water for advanced rafters. Make sure to plan for mid-season trips due to the chance of high water from snow melt. This trip is the most advanced day trip offered. You will be paddling hard and maneuvering through some very technical sections.

Whitewater rafting with AVA allows for the entire family to get on the water no matter what their skill level is. Depending on the outpost there are some other activities that AVA offers. Such as zip lining, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, and UTV rentals. So, feel free to book online or discuss some great trip options with a sales associate at 877-723-8464.