Rafting Trip: Choosing the Right Rapids for You

By Molly   •   June 30, 2015

Have you ever been told a river contained a specific class of rapid?  Did this ever confuse you when planning your rafting trip?  Here, we break down what each class of rapid looks and feels like.  We’ve also thrown in some music references to help clarify our points because everyone relates to music and the rivers provide music for Mother Nature!

Rafting Trip Rapids

Class I: Moving Water

If Class I rapids could be classified as a genre of music, they could be likened to folk music.  They are the Bob Dylan, the Pete Seeger, the Ario Guthrie, and Joan Baez of the river.  Folk music is defined as: Any style of music which represents a community and can be sung or played by people who may or may not actually be trained musicians, using the instruments available to them.  Just like folk music, Class I rapids are accessible.  Just about anyone can hop on a raft and navigate through a Class I rapid, using just the tools that are available to them.  Utah’s Colorado River offers accessible fun for everyone as it is the best group and family overnight rafting trip in the country! Class I moving water is the foundation for all classes of rapids. Without Class I rapids, there could be no Class IV or V.


Class II: Splashes

Country music was born from folk music, just as Class II splashes originate from Class I moving water.  Class II splashes are fun.  They are Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Carrie Underwood, and George Strait.  They are about love, taxes, and trucks.  Durango’s Lower Animas River is full of fun Class II splashes! As Miranda Lambert sang in her song New Strings, “If you don’t jump you’ll never know if you can fly.”  If you don’t raft Class II, you’ll never know if you can conquer the other classes.

Class III: Wet & Fun

When it comes to Class III wet and fun rapids, I can’t help but think of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Doors, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Leonard Skynyrd. The raft will ROCK as you ROLL over these fun rapids.  An evolved, fun form of expression, rock ‘n roll has been controversial, just as those Class III rapids can be a worry for parents, wondering if their kids should be exposed to this level of adventure. When it’s all said and done, everyone loves it and begs for more as the whole family is left soaked head to toe. Just one Beatles song is never enough. The fast, twisting melodies of rock ‘n roll flow perfectly with the narrow twisting waterways of the San Miguel River near Telluride, CO!

Class IV: Big Drop

Not for the faint of heart, but great for those seeking a thrill. Class IV big drop rapids will leave you wanting more.  Moms, you can censor these Rapids.  Rap is a music genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted.  The Lower Piedra River offers exciting Class IV pool drop rapids. This kind of rapid is not for everyone, but for those who are seeking a fast-paced adventure, hip-hop on board!


Class V: Violent

You are on the Upper Animas River, rafting the Silverton Section, and you are quickly approaching the first Class V violent rapid.  If there was a soundtrack playing in the background, it would be something by the Nine Inch Nails or Ozzy Osbourne.  Just like the guitar riffs, screaming lyrics, and incessant drum beats pounding into your head, the whitewater wraps around you and roars in your ears as it swallows you whole and spits you back out.


Music speaks to all of us differently, just as the rivers call to us in different ways.  We hope you now feel confident in knowing you have selected the best river for your next rafting trip.  No matter what song you’re listening to, it’s time to turn up the volume and jump in to one of our 77 different trip options! Join us for an adventure in Colorado, Arizona or Utah!


Get New Blog Posts in your Inbox