White Water Rafting Levels

California White Water Rafting Classes

Choosing your white water rafting trip by difficulty

Class 2, 3, 4 & 5 white water rafting trips – more options in California than any other outfitter

There are so many white water rafting trips to choose from, it helps to narrow your options based on the youngest person in the group, or if you have any non-swimmers coming with you. Our guide below will help you select the perfect rafting adventure. If you need assistance feel free to contact us.


International Scale of River Difficulty:

  • Class 1 Rafting – Easy: Waves are small, regular; riffles.
  • Class 2 Rafting – Medium: Rapids of medium difficulty; swift current, passages are wide and clear.
  • Class 3 Rafting – Difficult: Waves numerous, high, irregular; rocks, eddies, rapids with passages that are clear though narrow, requiring expertise in maneuvering.
  • Class 4 Rafting – Very Difficult: Long rapids, waves powerful and irregular; dangerous rocks, boiling eddies; powerful and precise maneuvering required.
  • Class 5 Rafting – Extremely Difficult: Long and violent rapids following each other almost without interruption; riverbed extremely obstructed; big drops, violent current, very steep gradient.
  • Class 6 – Virtually un-navigable: The upper extreme of whitewater rivers, commercially un-runnable.

Rafting trips by levels

Class 2 Rafting Trips

  • Ages 4+
  • For timid older children, seniors and special needs. These trips can also be enjoyed by adults and older youths
  • Inflatable Kayaks may be added for greater challenge

Class 3 Rafting Trips

  • Ages 6-8 (varies)
  • Best beginner rafting trips
  • Best choice for groups
  • OK for non swimmers when flows are at normal levels
  • You definitely get wet and it’s fun and exciting

Class 4 Rafting Trips

  • Ages 14+
  • Adventurous first time rafters welcome
  • Fun for older Scout groups
  • Most popular bachelor party trips
  • Swimming skills required
  • Challenging and fun

Class 5 Rafting Trips

  • Ages 16+
  • Previous Class 4 experience required
  • Strong swimming abilities required
  • Mostly available in the spring
  • Previous Class 4 rafting experience required


With over 25 years of running the highest quality rafting trips and river tours, Raft California invites you to join us on one of our spectacular rafting adventures! We have whitewater rafting trips on over 12 rivers in Northern California, Oregon, and into Nevada! Rivers include the South Fork American, Middle Fork American, North Fork American, North Yuba, Truckee, Tuolumne, Kaweah and more!.

Raft California 6500 State Highway 49 Lotus, CA 95651-9764
(530) 626-7385

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Group Discounts

We offer the following group discounts for our California white water rafting adventures. You can also check out some of our most popular group rafting trips:

  • 5% off with 6-11 people
  • 10% off with 12-17 people
  • 15% off with 18-23 people
  • 20% off with 24-29 people
  • 25% off with 30+ people

Family Rafting Specials

On our Weekday American River Overnight Rafting & Camping Trips kids are 50% off with every full paying adult! Trips depart on Mondays & Thursdays all summer long! These trips are great for families with kids ages 4+.


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