Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Rafter’s Guide to River Difficulty Ratings

The international standard for river difficulty as it relates to whitewater rafting attempts to remove at least some of the subjectivity involved in classifying rivers with whitewater rapids. The standard has no relation to how much fun each of these different classes may represent, it only takes into account the degree of difficulty in navigating rapids associated with each of the classes. Follow along as we briefly examine the various classes of international whitewater rafting difficulty, and move on to how these classes apply to Ohiopyle’s own Youghiogheny River rafting.

Degree of Difficulty Classes

Class I of the international standard includes moving water with a few small waves, and with few or no obstructions within the water. Class II includes those rivers with relatively easy rapids and some smaller sized waves, and clear channels that are readily apparent without prior scouting. Beginning with Class III rapids, rivers take on a more turbulent aspect with high rapids and irregular waves, often including narrow passages and obstructions which call for precise handling.

Class IV includes long, difficult rapids sometimes with very narrow passageways that require highly skilled maneuvering in turbulent water and difficult conditions. Rivers like this should be scouted ahead of time so that rafters understand where to expect the most difficult. Class V rapids are extremely difficult, with long and violent stretches requiring prior scouting from the shoreline. Class VI rapids are considered to be the most extreme of all whitewater rafting experiences. These are extremely dangerous and cannot be navigated with commercial rafts. They are also very challenging for specially made rafts, and should only be attempted by rafters with expert whitewater skills and experience.



Whitewater Rafting on the Youghiogheny River

Some of the best whitewater rafting in PA can be found along the Youghiogheny River, where guided rafting trips are available to help adventurers of any skill feel the rush of adrenaline that only whitewater rapids can provide. The Lower Yough rafting experience is roughly 7 ½ miles of combination Class III and Class IV whitewater rapids, ideal for rafters who are anxious to learn and test their skills on some stronger rapids broken up by stretches of calmer waters. The Middle Yough rafting experience includes some Class I and Class II rapids, making it a great introduction to whitewater rafting for the complete novice. There are long stretches of calm water, making it the ultimate on-the-water way to safely observe and take in all of your surroundings.

Upper Yough rafting includes a mix of Class IV and V rapids, mostly running quickly downhill through the upper part of the river. These rapids do call for proper scouting, and require you to be constantly aware of your surroundings to skillfully maneuver through the waves.

No matter what your skills on the rapids are, you can embark on the adventure of a lifetime with help from the Ohiopyle Trading Post. Our Ohiopyle rafting rentals and fully guided tours help you safely navigate your way through adrenaline rushing rapids of either the Lower, Middle or Upper Yough. Even if you’re new to whitewater rafting, our professional rafting staff offers lessons to get you out on the water and maneuvering through the rapids like a pro. Make sure you have all you need to float down the Yough and stop by the Ohiopyle Trading Post.

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