List of whitewater rivers

List of whitewater rivers

:"See also: Whitewater River, for rivers by that name"

A whitewater river is any river where its gradient and/or flow create rapids or whitewater turbulence. This list only focusses on rivers which are suitable for whitewater sports such as canoeing, kayaking, and rafting.

North American whitewater rivers


Canadian whitewater rivers are characterized by the dramatic difference between the high water spring run-off and the summer low water volume. The classification of rapids therefore changes from spring to summer.


* Kananaskis River, Alberta
* Bow River - Horseshoe Canyon, Alberta
* Oldman River, Southern Alberta
* Waterton River, Southern Alberta
* Saint Marys River, Southern Alberta
* Carbondale Creek, Southern Alberta
* Castle River, Southern Alberta
* Kakwa River, Northern Alberta
* Smoky River, Northern Alberta
* Upper Red Deer River, Alberta foothills

British Columbia

* Fraser River, British Columbia
* Alsek, British Columbia - Alaska
* Capilano River
* Chehalis River
* Chilliwack River
* Coquitlam River
* Mamquam River
* Cheakamus River
* Kicking Horse River


* Albany River
* Gull River
* Ottawa River (at the Ottawa River Provincial Park near Whitewater Region, Ontario)
* Kesagami River
* Madawaska River
* Magnetawan River
* Missinaibi River
* Moose River
* Opeongo River
* Petawawa River
* Spanish River
* Wellandvale/Twelve Mile Creek, in planning stage [ Niagara Whitewater Park Association]


* Coulonge River
* Dumoine River
* Gens de Terre River
* Kipawa River
* Lachine Rapids, Montreal
* Moisie River
* Noire River
* Rouge River
* Rupert River


* Bloodvein River, Manitoba
* Seal River

Northwest Territories

* South Nahanni River, Northwest Territories
* Kazan River
* Elaho River, [Unknown]

United States

Eastern rivers

Rivers in the eastern section of the United States are usually considered "technical," which means that due to lesser water volume, rafters and kayakers must often direct their craft through boulder-strewn sections of river, through narrow channels and shoals. This requires a degree of "river reading" skill, paddling precision, and understanding of hazards such as undercut rocks and strainers.


The following are some of the rivers in the Northeast that are popular.

* Black River, New York - Class 3-5;
* Contoocook River, New Hampshire - Class 3-4
* Dead River, Maine - Class 3-5
* Deerfield River, Vermont and Massachusetts - Class 2-5
* Delaware River, New York - many sections of this river can be paddled with the best sections being in New York; class 1-2.
* Esopus Creek, New York - Class 2-3
* Farmington River, Massachusetts and Connecticut - Class 3
* Housatonic River, Connecticut - Class 1-5
* Hudson River, North Creek, New York - Class 4
* Kennebec River, Maine - mostly Class 2-4, one Class 5 rapid
* Lehigh River, Whitehaven to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania - a convert|24|mi|km|sing=on run, through a beautiful gorge; Class 3, in high water this is a class 4 run.
* Moose River, Old Forge, New York - Class 4-5
* Mongaup River, New York - Class 3; a convert|2|mi|km|sing=on section can be paddled from the base of a dam to the Delaware River.
* Nescopeck Creek, Pennsylvania - Class 2-3
* Potomac River, Maryland/Virginia
* Penobscot River, Maine - Class 3-5
* Rockaway River, Boonton, New Jersey - Class 4; only a 1 mile section can be paddled but the gradient is a 120 feet for the mile, with the staircase rapids along Rt. 287 reaching 40 feet drop in a quarter of a mile.
* Ten Mile Creek, New York - Class 1-2; about convert|10|mi|km can be paddled; in early spring one can start at Big Indian.
* Westfield River, Massachusetts - Class 1-4; convert|40|mi|km of varying difficulty including Pork Barrel and Knightville.
* Youghiogheny River, Pennsylvania - Class 3-4


Some signature streams in the southeastern United States include:

* Chattooga River, Georgia / South Carolina - sports huge rapids, big drops, and thunderous power; this river can be a challenge for even experts; the Chattooga was one of the rivers used for the filming of the 1973 adventure movie, "Deliverance".
* Cheat River, West Virginia - Class IV.
* French Broad River, Asheville, North Carolina - featuring a long run of varying difficulty, from flatwater runnable in a canoe to class IV rapids near Hot Springs, North Carolina and the border with Tennessee. The main drawbacks are that the water tends to be muddy or polluted and it is a natural flow river.
* Gauley River, Summersville, West Virginia - has huge rapids, especially at the "Fall Drawdown" (when the reservoir is drained) is a world-class ride; many of them listed as Class V; the Upper Gauley, from Summersville to Mason's Branch, is the tougher section; the [ Lower Gauley] , from Koontz' Flume to Swiss, is still a Class-IV river with significant hazards; navigating the Upper and Lower Gauley in a single day is called "the Gauley Marathon," twenty-six miles of big rapids and paddling.
* Green River, Asheville, North Carolina - the [ Green Narrows] is the steepest "creek run" with regular activity in the Eastern U.S; with a gradient that reaches 600 feet/mile over one short section, The Narrows is a series of blind waterfalls and tight slots; regular, predictable releases from the Tuxedo Hydro Plant upstream draw paddlers on a regular basis.
* James River, Richmond, Virginia - The only urban whitewater in North America. Class IV rapids.
* Nantahala River, Bryson City, North Carolina - a relatively gentle river, with the final rapid having the propensity to send paddlers in for a cold, exhilarating swim; suitable for beginners.
* New River, Thurmond, West Virginia - the next step up; its rapids are larger than those of the Ocoee, though they are separated by long flatwater pools.
* Ocoee River, Polk County, Tennessee - 1996 Olympic Canoe/Kayak Whitewater Slalom Competition was held on this world-class river; a special section was constructed for the venue, but the "middle" Ocoee is the classic ride that is almost continuous whitewater.
* Nolichucky River, Erwin, Tennessee scenic river; water levels vary greatly (dependent upon rain fall and season); guides' moniker "Bone-i-chucky" attributed to in-stream rock obstructions, particularly at low summer water levels.
* Russell Fork River - located in Breaks Interstate Park on the border of Kentucky and Virginia, this river drops convert|150|ft|m per mile in the [ Russell Fork Gorge] , which has been described as a continuous forty-five degree waterfall; it has dangerous rapids, even experienced paddlers have died in its many undercut rocks, and there have been many close calls; for the most experienced rafters and kayakers only.
* Watauga River, mostly cold and clear water Class I-II rapids with the exception of the Bee Cliff Rapids following scheduled high volume reservoir releases during summer months from the Tennessee Valley Authority Wilbur Dam flowing through Elizabethton, Tennessee (Northeast Tennessee); also upstream of both TVA Wilbur Dam and Watauga Dam as a separate, non-commercial run beginning in North Carolina to Johnson County, Tennessee above Watauga Lake; Class IV-V.

West Coast rivers

In the western United States, the more noted rivers, such as the Grand Canyon have much greater water volume and therefore require a different set of paddling skills. Western rafters also navigate many small, low volume rivers, some with much steeper descents than eastern rivers; however, since the mountains are newer in the west, the hazard from undercut rocks, a problem in the east, is replaced by more frequent log jams precipitated by logging activities near the rivers.

The big-water rivers usually do not require the precision paddling of smaller rivers, but have larger rapids and longer wilderness trips due to the greater length and water flow of the big rivers. The smaller rivers and creeks boated by most rafters offer many one- or two-day trips with difficulty levels from I to VI.

In the West, some paddlers start on the American in California and work their way up to the Rogue and Illinois in Oregon, the Tuolomne (California), the Salmon in Idaho, the Snake, and then the big-water rivers like the Green and Colorado through the Grand Canyon (Arizona), the Fraser in British Columbia, and many Alaskan streams.


* American River
* Cherry Creek
* Kaweah River - Class IV commercial runs.
* Kern River
* Kings River
* Klamath River
* Mokelumne River
* Napa River
* Trinity River
* Truckee River
* Tuolumne River

Colorado and Utah

* Cache La Poudre - Colorado's only federally designated Wild and Scenic River contains sections appropriate for every level of expertise including an easy Class II section, several Class III and Class-IV sections, as well as some Class V. There is a Class VI waterfall that is very dangerous because the last drop is unrunnable. The water pours off a slab into a convert|2|ft|m|sing=on-wide crack and grinds anything that goes into it.

* Colorado River
** Gore Canyon - a Class-IV reach with two significant Class-V rapids. The first Class V, Gore Rapid, is tighly surrounded by several large Class-IV rapids. Most of the water flows to the river-left side of the rapid, where a very nasty and very sticky hydraulic runs into a large rock. The second Class-V Rapid, Tunnel Rapid, is mostly comprised of a single large ledge. On the right side of the rapid is a very nasty and very sticky hole that is bordered by a large rock on the left preventing people from exiting. On the left side of the ledge, the water is redirected right back into the large hole. The water is redirected by an undercut rock.
** I-70 Section - Class-III big water, pushy at times.

Cataract Canyon Varies in class from III to V. At over 50,000 cubic feet per second (1400 m³/s), Cataract Canyon becomes class V. The first 48 miles (77 km) from Potash boat ramp are flat water. Four miles (6 km) after the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers Cataract Canyon begins. Major John Wesley Powell navigated the rapids in 1869 and gave Cataract Canyon its name. Cataract Canyon slices its way through Canyonlands National Park. Prior to becoming a National Park in 1964, Canyonlands and particularly Cataract Canyon was a "no man's land". French trapper Denis Julien made his way up the canyon in 1836 and left his inscription near the confluence or the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Spring runoff from the Uinta, Wasatch, and the western fronts of the Rocky Mountains combines to create some of the most exciting whitewater in North America. Flows have been gauged at over 110000 Cubic feet per Second in 1984. This is much larger than in the Grand Canyon where water is released from the Glen Canyon Dam and therefore regulated. In an average year Cataract Canyon will peak at 35,000 cubic feet per second (1000 m³/s) which creates 32 rapids (depending on water levels in Lake Powell). At over 50,000 cubic feet per second (1400 m³/s) the rapids from rapid 14 through rapid 24 form some of the most awe inspiring whitewater in North America.

* Arkansas River - a big river, with many sections ranging from Class I to V, very popular with kayakers and with commercial rafting companies.


* Lochsa River
* The Main Fork of the Salmon River III-IV
* The Middle Fork of the Samon River III-IV

* Payette River (Main)
* Payette River, North Fork


* Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone
* Gallatin - Gallatin River


River flow information available from [ the USGS] and [ Pat Welch River gauges] River forecast data available through [ National Weather Service] Popular whitewater rivers in Oregon:

* Bull Run - Site of slalom course
* Clackamas - Year round water, proximity to Portland, and a range of runs make this a popular river.
** Barton to Carver (Class 2)
** Carver to Clackamette (Class 2)
** Bob's to Memaloose (Class 2)
** Fish Creek to Bob's (Class 3-4) - Runnable year round (in kayaks, canoes, and rafts)
** Three Lynx to Fish Creek (Class 3-4) - Runnable winter through late Spring most years.
** Killer Fang (Class 4)
** June Creek (Class 4)
* Molalla
** Table Rock Fork
** Three Bear's
* Nehalem
* Rogue
* Salmonberry
* Sandy
** Sandy Gorge (Class 4)
** Revenue Bridge to Dodge Park
** Dodge Park to Oxbow Park
** Oxbow to Columbia (Class 2)
* Wilson


* Ocoee River (up to class V)
* Pigeon River (up to class IV)
* Watauga River


The most popular runs in Washington are listed below.

* Green River
* Wenatchee River
* Skykomish River
* Skookumchuck Narrows
* Snoqualmie River
* Icicle Creek
* Tumwater Canyon


* Snake River
* Clarks Fork Yellowstone River

European whitewater rivers

United Kingdom

Whitewater rivers in the UK are typically low volume and technical. In England and Wales rivers are typically less than 20 m³/s, and some are run with less than 1 m³/s (usually these involve skidding the kayak down steep rockslides and small waterfalls). In Scotland there are also a few bigger volume (up to about 50 m³/s) rivers.

Almost all runs in England and Wales need recent rain to be at a paddleable level, and many can only be run immediately after heavy rain. In Scotland some bigger rivers can be run for weeks after rain although as with the rest of the country, most need recent wet weather. The paddling season is year-round but the rivers are more often runnable in winter (the wettest months of the year being December and January). Exceptions to this include rivers which have artificially maintained flows from reservoirs. On these rivers flow may increase in dry weather as more water is released. The Afon Tryweryn is one example in Wales.

Most runs offer only a few kilometres of whitewater; often several rivers can be run on a wet day. Some rivers consist of only a single rapid. Only a few rivers (such as the Findhorn and Spean in the Scottish Highlands) have more than a days' worth of paddling, and most of this tends to be grade III or less.

The River Dart excepted, there is no natural whitewater in the (mainly flat) south and east of England. Here whitewater paddlers often go playboating at man made weirs. Hurley weir on the River Thames west of London is probably the most popular. There are several artificial whitewater courses, where water is pumped or diverted though a concrete channel containing obstacles to create rapids. There is a 28 m³/s artificial whitewater course on the Trent at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham (at the National Watersports Centre), a 5 m³/s course on the Tees in Teesside, and smaller courses on the Nene at Northampton, and at Cardington.

In England Commercial rafting is limited to artificial whitewater courses (where it often provides the majority of the courses' income). Bigger and more reliable rivers can be found in Scotland and Wales, in particular the River Findhorn, River Orchy, River Spey, River Tay and the Afon Tryweryn.

There are several sites off the west coast of Britain where strong tidal currents channeled between islands create big volume sections of whitewater. These include the Bitches in Pembrokeshire in Wales, and the Falls of Lora on the west coast of Scotland.

Legal access to whitewater is a big issue in England and Wales. The public are only allowed access to a tiny proportion of the available whitewater, and often this is restricted to a few months or even a few days per year. This limits commercial operations and the activities of clubs, but many individual kayakers still paddle illegally. Rivers are almost all private and access must be agreed with all of the riparian owners (the owners of the land either side of the river) and the owners of the fishing rights, otherwise canoeing or kayaking there is trespass (although landowners can do little other than tell trespassers to leave their property). Agreements rarely exist as there is no incentive for the owners of rivers to let anyone else use them. In Scotland, like most of the rest of the world, access to whitewater is legal and has never been illegal. It has been enshrined in law in the recent Scottish Land Reform act. The Right to Roam act in England explicitly excluded rivers. The British Canoe Union is running the Rivers Access Campaign to raise awareness and bring about changes in the law to permit public access to all inland rivers in England and Wales.


Popular whitewater rivers in the Alps are mainly medium volume glacier-fed rivers with long continuous rapids and few big drops. The season is short (two or three months in early summer when the snow and glaciers are melting) but the whitewater is reliable in this period. Tourists come from around Europe to kayak and raft – the most popular centres are Briançon in the French Alps, and the area around Landeck in Austria.

Whitewater in Norway

Norwegian whitewater rivers are typically steep pool-drop rivers with many waterfalls, and are run mainly by experienced kayakers. There are also bigger (sometimes glacier-fed) rivers which are sometimes rafted. The season lasts all summer, although some rivers only run after recent rain.

Norwegian waterfalls regularly feature on extreme kayaking videos.

Oceanic Whitewater Rivers


*Tully River North, QLD
*Baron River, Cains
*Penrith White water stadium, NSW

New Zealand

* Wairoa River (Grade 2-5)
* Kaituna River

Asian whitewater rivers


The Wang Thong River is a popular whitewater rafting destination in the Phitsanulok Province of Thailand. It has rapids ranging from difficulty levels of 3 through 5.


In the north, most rivers in India descend from the Himalayas, bringing with them ample rapids to encounter. Towards the south, most rivers tumble down from the Western Ghats and flow east, with some exceptions.

North India

* Zanskar, a Grand Canyonisque experience. Class III-IV. Gradings, as on all rivers, subject to change depending on volume of water.
* Alaknanda
* Bhagirathi
* Mandakini
* Ganges
* Tons
* Kali
* Yamuna
* Sutlej
* Teesta
* Rangit

South India


* Kali River (Karnataka), section near Dandeli. Class III-III+
* Cauvery, near Bheemeshwari. Class II-II+
* Upper Barapole, in Coorg. Class III-IV. Very creekish river.
* Sharda, Class III
* Sitanadi

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