The Canadian Rockies are abundant with winding, flowing and wild rivers.

Glacial fed rivers, with an amazing turquoise colour, give way to adrenaline filled whitewater rafting trips. The water you paddle down on the Kicking Horse River was ice on a glacier only a few hours before. That’s pretty cool!

What is Whitewater?

The type of water found in fast moving rivers which contain rapids, frothy water, waves and holes.

Whitewater Ratings

River Classification System – Class 1 to Class 6

Before you set out on a river adventure with us, you might like more information on the types of rapids that you will experience on your trip. To clarify and simplify this process, all whitewater rapids are rated on a scale of 1 to 6. Most rivers are a combination of the classifications and have varying degrees of difficulties based on water levels. The most important thing to remember with the classification system: it has nothing to do with how much fun a rapid is. The system is based on difficulty, which do not always equate with the “fun factor” of a rapid.

The International Scale of River Difficulty that rates rapids from class 1 to class 6 is a standardized scale used to rate the safety of a stretch of river, or a single rapid. The grade reflects the technical difficulty and skill level required associated with the section of river. The Kicking Horse River offers Class 1 to Class 4 rapids depending on the trip you choose. Remember, none of our trips require any previous experience as you will be accompanied by our qualified river guides.

Check out the ratings & descriptions below:


Canadian Rockies Class 1

Gentle, moving water with small ripples and waves.

Hydra trips that offer Class 1 thrills:
All of our river adventures include class 1 whitewater


Canadian Rockies Class 2

Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels. Some maneuvering might be required.

Hydra trips that offer Class 2 thrills:

The Mild Family Adventure

Kicking Horse Classic

Last Waltz


Canadian Rockies Class 3

Large, continuous series or sets of waves. The middle canyon of the Kicking Horse River has lots of class 3 thrills.

Hydra trips that offer Class 3 thrills:

The Mild Family Adventure

Kicking Horse Classic

Last Waltz


Canadian Rockies Class 4

Class 4 are intense and powerful but predictable rapids, requiring technical maneuvering. The course may be hard to determine and scouting is often necessary. The middle canyon of the Kicking Horse River has a 1 km class 4 section.

Hydra trips that offer Class 4 thrills:

The Mild Family Adventure

Kicking Horse Classic


Canadian Rockies Class 5

Extreme long, difficult, violent rapids. Unavoidable waves and obstructions. Extremely difficult, long, and very violent rapids with highly congested routes, which should be scouted from shore. Rescue conditions are difficult, and there is a significant hazard to life in the event of a mishap.

Hydra trips that offer Class 5 thrills:

Hydra doers not raft any class 5 sections on the Kicking Horse River.


Canadian Rockies Class 6

Virtually non-navigable. Waterfall!

Hydra trips that offer Class 6 thrills:

Hydra doers not raft any class 6 sections on the Kicking Horse River.


The Kicking Horse

There are 2 raftable sections to the Kicking Horse River: The Upper and Middle Canyons.

  • UPPER - Class I and Class 2, with 1 class 3 rapid
  • MIDDLE - Continuous Class 3 and 1 km Class 4 Section