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River Safety

Taking flight on the Lower SalmonKnowing the fine line between danger and fun is a skill that can only be honed with many years on the river. Being on the river is all about having fun, and being aware of the risks is a big aspect. Prior to hopping in the boats and heading out we have a thorough River Awareness and Trip Orientation Talk. All of our guides have first aid and CPR training. Each of our trips is equipped with expedition first aid kits, as well as a satellite phone for emergencies. To date, we have an accident-free record. We can accommodate both a range of ages and a broad range of clients with special physical challenges.

Rapid Classification Whitewater rapids are rated, based on relative difficulty, on a scale of one to six, usually written in Roman numerals. Class I is the smallest of rapids and waves, and Class VI the extremely difficult rapids. The classification or rating of a river varies considerably with fluctuating water levels. Although higher water levels normally increase the difficulties of rapids, higher water occasionally covers rocks sufficiently to wash out rapids. Conversely, some rapids become more difficult at lower water levels because more rocks are exposed. Outfitters and guides are familiar with rapid classification and are always glad to explain the rating system in more detail.

Class Description
I Very small rapids with low waves, slow current, no obstructions.
II Fairly frequent rapids of medium difficulty, few or no obstructions.
III Difficult, large, irregular waves up to four feet, numerous rapids. The course requires some maneuvering of the raft.
IV Very difficult, long, extended rapids that require careful maneuvering of the raft. Powerful irregular waves and dangerous rocks are common. The course is hard to determine and scouting is necessary.
V Long and violent rapids. Large waves that are unavoidable and irregular. Extremely difficult and complex course. Scouting is essential.
VI Maximum difficulty. Nearly impossible and extremely dangerous. Class V carried to the limit of navigability. Involves risk of life.

All guides are licensed and have current First Aid and CPR cards. Winding Waters River Expeditions is licensed and bonded in Oregon and Idaho and is an equal opportunity service provider operating under a special use permit from the USFS in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. All of our guides make whitewater safety a top priority on all Hells Canyon, Salmon and Grande Ronde River raft trips.