The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

International Scale of River Difficulty

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Whitewater rapids, common on many rivers in the interior highlands of West Virginia, are classified by whitewater-rafting sports enthusiasts according to the International Scale of River Difficulty. Some of the best known rapids on the New River are identified under the following classification for as example.

Class I (1): Easy -- Class I rapids are classified by small, irregular waves and clear passages. Designated Class I rapids on the New River include Dowdy Creek Rapids and Thread-The-Needle Rocks, though other minor shoals and rapids may classify as Class I depending on water levels.

Class II (2): Novice -- Class II rapids feature small drops, clear passages, and obvious routes. Class II rapids on the New River include Rocky Rapids, Ledges Rapids, Pinball Rapids, Swimmer's Rapids, Tug Creek Rapids, McCreery Rapids, Upper Kaymoor Rapids, and Brooks Ledges. Grassy Shoals Rapids and White House Rapids may reach Class III classification depending upon water levels.

Class III (3): Intermediate -- Class III rapids feature moderate, irregular waves, and some maneuvering may be necessary. Class III rapids on the New River include Brooks Falls, Silo Rapids, Upper Railroad Rapids, Hook 99 Rapids, Greyhound Rapids, and Lower Kaymoor Rapids. In addition, the following rapids vary between Class II and III, depending on water level: McCabes Rapids, Corkscrew Rapids, Quinnimont Rapids, Stripper Hole Rapids, and Ender Waves Rapids. Upper Keeneys Rapids are classified as Class III but may reach Class VI, depending upon water levels.

Class IV (4): Advanced -- Class IV rapids feature large irregular waves, fast water, and require precise maneuvering. Class IV rapids on the New River include Lower Railroad Rapids, Dudley's Dip Rapids, and Fayette Station Rapids. Upper Keeneys Rapids is classified as a Class III rapid but may reach Class VI, depending upon water levels.

Class V (5.0+): Expert -- Class V rapids generally span long distances and feature violent, powerful whitewater and a heavily obstructed riverbed. Complex maneuvering is necessary. Class V rapids generally represent the most difficult of runnable whitewater, thus the category has been left open-ended in a multi-level scale designated as Class 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc. Class V rapids on the New River include Middle Keeneys Rapids, Lower Keeneys Rapids, Double Z Rapids, and Miller's Folly Rapids.

Class VI (6): Extreme -- Class VI rapids are unpredictable and dangerous, and the consequence of error may be fatal. Pushing the utmost limit of navigability, Class VI rapids should be run only by expert paddlers. Class VI rapids rarely attempted, and after a Class VI rapid has been frequently run, its rating may be changed to a Class V+ categorization. No Class VI rapids are located on the New River. Its largest cataract, Sandstone Falls, is not navigable.

External Link: New River Whitewater Rafting