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A Blog Post

How does a river get it’s class?

People always wonder “What is the river class, how difficult is the rafting and can I do it?”.

There are 6 levels of River Classes according to the American Whitewater Affiliation. We have added our own little twist to things to make it easier for people who don’t get on the river often to get an idea of the level of excitement.

Gooseberry Ledge• Class 1 – It’s a lake!
Basically flat water with some small waves.
• Class 2 – It’s easy!
The easiest rapids are found under this classification.
• Class 3 – It’s tons of fun but not terrifying!
These are moderately hard rapids requiring some maneuvering.
• Class 4 – That’s a lot of work!
Scouting and skillful maneuvering required.
• Class 5 – I’m hanging on!
Extremely difficult and requires complicated maneuvering with safety issues.
• Class 6 – You don’t want to go there!

The Red Deer River is a class #3 river for the section of the river where we are rafting through the foothills. That is the average rating for this part of the river. There are some rapids that stand out that are rated a level higher. Some of the names of these rapids are “The Staircase”, “Gooseberry Ledge”, “The Nationals” and “Cache Hill” to name a few.

In June the water is always colder and flowing faster. The temperature of the Red Deer river is about 4 degrees in June and so presents a safety issue. While wearing a life jacket, waterproof shell and wetsuit you still only have minutes if you are in the water. After that, you are at risk for hypothermia. For smaller people, the total amount of heat in their body is less. Thus, the time they are in the water is reduced.

Class increases when temperature decreases

There is an increased risk associated with water temperature. If the water temperature is 4 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) or colder the river rating increases by a level of one.

Most people see the Red Deer River where it passes under the bridge on Queen Elizabeth Highway 2 at the city of Red Deer. This part of the river is well out onto the prairies and has slowed down to become a sleepy class #1 river. People associate this view with the nature of the river over its entire length.

It comes as a big surprise there is white water up towards the head waters. It is more of a surprise that the rapids offer a good day of white water rafting action.