WhiteWater Classifications

Degree of Difficulty

The rapids which you will encounter on your journey down the Deschutes range in difficulty from very simple to somewhat challenging. Each rapid has been classified by its “degree of difficulty.” Minor rapids consist of CLASS I and II; major rapids consist of CLASS III or greater.

Easy. Offers no major obstructions. Water surface shows only small riffles. Low hydraulic forces are in effect. No significant danger other than the simple, unobstructed force of the the current of the river.
The majority of rapids on the lower 100 miles of the Deschutes fall into this category.
The river we will be rafting falls into this category, with a few slightly challenging rapids.

Medium difficulty. Stream flow increases velocity. Obstructions may necessitate some maneuvering. Medium hydraulics will be experienced. Small standing waves or relatively safe medium-sized standing waves are possible.

Can be dangerous. Swamping or overturning is common. Medium to high stream flow velocities will be encountered. Standing waves will be present. Powerful hydraulics exist. Maneuvering will be required during passage. Dangerous suck holes may form at large boulders. Midstream obstructions may be present. Novices should seriously consider lining their boats through these rapids.

Extremely Dangerous. Extended rapids necessitate long-term difficulties. High standing waves and midstream obstructions force maneuvering in powerful hydraulics. Suck holes are capable of capsizing the most stable craft. Novices should not attempt. Novices should line the boats through these rapids or portage around them.

Extremely Dangerous. These rapids require technical maneuvering in strong hydraulics. Rapids may be extended for some distance. Standing waves and midstream obstructions or suck holes present serious hazards to equipment and life. Novices and many experience boatmen should line boats through or portage around.

Foolish to Attempt. Involves life hazard. Waterfalls, impossible hydraulics and necessary maneuvering combine to make safe passage more a matter of luck than skill. Lining boats through or portaging around is recommended for even the most competent boatmen.