Whether they’re hiking, fishing, rafting or playing sports, Americans love being outside. In 2016, more than a billion outdoor outings were reported among Americans, with an average of 76.5 outings per participant.
The outdoor recreation industry generates $887 billion annually in consumer spending and outdoor recreation provides about 7.6 million American jobs.
One of the most popular outdoor activities is whitewater rafting. In 2018, there are an estimated 700,000 white water paddlers in the United States. Americans participating in whitewater rafting get plenty of exercise and a rush of adrenaline as they crash through the waves and are bounced this way and that. It truly is a man versus nature kind of experience, but it’s one that is thrilling and makes those who do it feel alive. White water rafting also gives paddlers the chance to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature and see different types of wildlife.
The difficulty of whitewater rafting is broken down into six river rafting classifications from Class I to Class VI. Each of the river rafting classifications determines potential hazards associated with the river and it’s important to know the difference in each of them.
The river rafting classifications system is handy, but it is only a guide. Most rivers that paddlers traverse have a combination of the classifications, meaning that on different stretches of rivers there are varying degrees of difficulty.
The river rafting classifications for rapids are as follows:
Whitewater rafting can be a very enjoyable experience, but it’s important to be safe when you’re doing it. To maintain safety and enhance the enjoyment, these safety tips can be a big help.
- Get a guide:
- Stay put: Staying inside a boat when rafting might seem like a no-brainer, but you never know what might happen. If you’re navigating a particularly dicey stretch of water, the last thing you want to do is end up in the water away from your boat. While navigating rapids, a guide will call out various commands that are all designed to help you stay safe and navigate the right way.
- Stay calm: If there is a mishap, it’s very important that you stay calm. If you fall in the water, don’t panic and make sure you find your boat. Sometimes a boat will pop up next to you after you fall in and you’ll need to grab it so you don’t float away. Depending on how far away you are, you can swim to your boat or look for another boat or river bank to get to safety. Above all, it’s very important to keep a level head, even in the face of danger.
If you’re new to whitewater rafting, then you’ll need an experienced guide. Guides know the path you’ll be taking and can advise you of the best way to navigate the rapids as well as the different rafting commands. A guide will also know how to handle different situations, both easy and difficult and are also trained in CPR and first aid if anything should happen.