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Whitewater Rapid Classification: Class I-VI System Explained

Navigate the world of whitewater rapids with our detailed guide! Understand the Class I-VI system to select the right river for your skill level.

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Originally developed by the American Whitewater Association, the rapid classification system is a quick and easy way to determine if a stretch of a particular river is within your ability levels.

All rivers can be categorized into 1 of 6 different classes within the river classification system. However, it’s worth mentioning that not all rivers fit neatly into these categories. So, there’s always room for some debate when grading rivers.

With that in mind, here’s how river rapids are classified according to the AWA:

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