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What is whitewater rafting?

November 10, 2015

A kayaker sailing through tough, rocky passages. Tom Hanks in “Castaway”. Cutting through rapids in a paddle boat and going over waterfalls.

When we say “whitewater rafting”, you may think of some of these things.

We love having first time rafters or families come out to raft with us. Our knowledgeable team is happy to tell you: 

However, what we usually don't have time to go into great detail with is “What exactly is whitewater rafting?”

The Basics: What is Whitewater?

On a very basic level, whitewater rafting is taking a raft through whitewater. Whitewater is a form of river water that  is characterized by fast, shallow stretches of water. These shallow stretches are known as ‘rapids’ and come in different ‘grades’ or levels of choppiness/difficulty of passage.

Grades range numbered one through six, with one being the gentlest, and six being the most dangerous. Most class six rapids are considered un-navigable on a reliably safe basis, aka, professional rafters or kayakers only!

For a fun trip that presents a challenge, but is safe for a novice rafter, most guided raft trips will only have up to class three rapids.

The Guide Makes the Trip

With the proper guide, safety gear and precautions, rafting can be a fun activity for the whole family! In fact, the Pigeon River is THE destination for moderate rapids in Tennessee - perfect for a group trip or a first-time rafter.

The International Rafting Federation governs the whitewater rafting community all over the world. They oversee events, like the World Rafting Championships, which Team America participated in last year.

Competitive rafting is made up of four types of courses: sprint, head-to-head, slalom, and downriver.

Each course wins a competitive team points, that are added up to determine the overall winner.

The downriver is the most important part of the race, accounting for 40% of the overall score, and it is also the portion that most resembles what we do on our tours, since it’s about an hour of continuous rapids.

So what exactly is whitewater rafting?

Sometimes it’s cutting through rapids, testing your mettle against mother nature.

Sometimes it’s you and your friends having a great afternoon tackling some grade one or two grade rapids and having a great time.

Sometimes it’s a little scary, sometimes it’s a bit too tame - but you can guarantee that it’s always fun.

It’s always a way to connect with mother nature, and to learn a little something about yourself and the people you take to the river with. Whitewater rafting is something that we love, and it’s what we specialize in.

If you’re ready to really see what whitewater rafting is for yourself, come see us.

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