What’s Your Adventure Level?

All O.A.R.S. trips are active participatory adventures by nature and involve some level of physical exertion. Most often, our trips take place in remote settings where exposure to the elements—including cold water, heat, sun, wind and rain—is a given. And, frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. What we offer isn’t a bus tour, a shore excursion or a theme park ride. We take you off the beaten path to places you might struggle to access on your own and it’s our goal to immerse you in the beauty of a region.

Adventure level varies from trip to trip, but even an “easier” trip can become “challenging” under the right conditions—weather, water level, and even your personal choice of boat and/or hiking options can contribute to just how adventurous your O.A.R.S. experience will be.

For each of our trips, we’ve tried to provide an approximation of what adventure level (from easier to challenging) you should expect to encounter under typical circumstances. Many trips are suitable for reasonably-fit first-timers, but all our trips are made more enjoyable by a certain degree of personal fitness and an adventurous spirit.

Rating Levels for Whitewater Rapids

Choosing the right level of whitewater is the first step in making your whitewater rafting experience a success.

Standard River Scale

class-I
Class I

Swift current with riffles and small waves. Few obstacles, all obvious and easily avoided. Ideal for: Children aged four and older, first-timers, all adults.

Class II

Easy rapids with wide-open channels and medium-sized waves. Some maneuvering may be necessary to avoid obstacles. Generally, children four years and older may experience Class II rapids. Ideal for: Children aged four and older, first-timers, all adults.

Class III

Moderate rapids with irregular, medium- to large-sized waves. Waves large enough to cause a boat to capsize may be present but normally can be avoided. Quick maneuvering may be required to avoid obstacles. Generally, children seven years and older may experience Class III rapids. Ideal for: Children aged seven and older, beginners to intermediates looking for manageable thrills.

Class IV

Powerful rapids featuring boulder gardens, large waves and/or small waterfalls. Quick and precise maneuvering is essential for successful runs. Prior Class III experience is recommended, although aggressive first-timers looking for a challenge are generally accepted. Minimum ages will generally vary from 12 to 16 years. Ideal for: Adventurous individuals, intermediates or aggressive beginners looking for a challenge.

Class V

Intense and violent rapids with steep drops, waterfalls, massive waves and extremely constricted channels. Rapids may require “critical” maneuvering above dangerous hazards. Prior Class IV experience may be required. In some cases participants must pass a physical fitness/swimming test administered by our guides at the river. Ideal for: Experienced paddlers and hard-core adventurers. On some rivers you’ll be required to take a physical fitness/swimming test.

River and Rapid Ratings for the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon rapids are rated on a 1-10 scale. Flat water is 1 while tough rapids like Lava Falls or Crystal can be rated 10 at certain water levels. A 10 rating in the canyon is roughly equivalent to a Class V in the standard river scale.