So maybe you’re interested in White Water Rafting but have some reservations or questions before taking the plunge. No worries — we’ll do our best to answer them for you.
What are these terms ‘whitewater’ ‘rapids’ and ‘rafting’ all about?
Good Question! When a river’s gradient rapidly descends and loses elevation, water is plunged downward over rocks and cracks hidden in the river. This turbulent water creates conflicting currents flowing every which way, allowing air to enter the stream. This is what causes the ‘white’ in whitewater. Rafting is the act of paddling boats over these rapids. The result is an experience you will never forget.
Why would you do that?!
Sir Edmund Hillary – the first man to climb Mount Everest – was asked the very same question after his first ascent. His famous answer? “Because it is there”. We feel the same way about whitewater rapids. Rafting is outrageously fun and exhilarating!
What are the different “Classes” of rapids?
Rapids are graded on a class system ranging from Class 1 to Class 6.
Class I: Think of a Class I rapid as swimmable. They are mild ripples where the river might pick up some speed and swirl around large rocks. It is far from daunting and usually prepares you for what is to come.
Class II: A class II rapid is where you will notice a change in the river. It usually includes a mild to exciting drop where water increases in speed for a short distance. Class II rapids are generally safe to swim while providing a quick rush of excitement. They are fun but do require slight maneuvering.
Class III: Class III usually incorporates a level of technicality and can require developed paddling skills. A Class III rapid certainly ups the ante from a class II. These rapids contain regular waves and moving water in many directions. They do recommend having a guide or some experience to raft Class III rapids.
Class IV: The famous class IV… a relentless powerhouse of unadulterated excitement. At this level, a person certainly feels the power and wrath of Mother Nature. A Class IV rapid is normally a longer stretch of many waves together. These are not advisable without a guide.
Class V: Class V is left to the professionals, and with good reason! To raft a Class V rapid one needs a larger raft and lots of experience. They consist of big drops and strong waves! They are lots of fun once you get really good at the art of rafting.
Class VI: Class VI rapids are non-raftable rapids. They include too large of waves for anyone to raft through! If a Class VI rapid is successfully run, it drops to a Class V.
I heard a guide exclaim, “The River is at 4000 CFS!” What language is that?
We promise, it’s actually English. CFS is river talk for how much water is flowing at any given point. It stands for “Cubic Feet per Second”, and we use this measurement to understand how the rapids are going to behave that day. Rivers change their CFS daily based on rainwater, snowmelt, a period of drought, or in the case of the Menominee River, how the dam is operating. You can check out the CFS levels of the Menominee, the Peshtigo, and the Wolf on the bottom of the Home Page!
What do you wear when rafting? Do I need to bring anything?
This is a very common question! Check out our page here for a checklist of what to wear!
What if I’ve never done anything like this before? Will I be okay?
There is no prior experience needed to enjoy these waters; just make sure you’re ready to have some fun! I would recommend a river trip on the Menominee or the Peshtigo Rivers because they are both guided. Your trained guide will take good care of you and teach you the ins and outs of the river before you tackle it.
Do I have to know how to swim?
Many people each year go down these rivers without knowing how to swim. Although the objective is to stay in the boat, if you were to fall out, you will have a life jacket on that will keep you afloat. Through the rapids, it is more of a float than a swim!