Thrill Seekers

Looking for an adrenaline rush? While rafting on any river any time is a guaranteed good time, many paddlers are looking for the ultimate in excitement and challenge. If that’s the case and you are ready for an extreme test, you’ll want to try rafting a river with Class 4 or 5 rapids. We’ve outlined the Class 1-6 classification system of rapids in our Rafting 101 section. Class 4 and 5 rapids are generally the most challenging that a professional rafting company will run commercial rafting guests. You should be in good physical condition and be a strong swimmer in case you find yourself floating through one of the rapids on your own!

Below is a list of popular Class 4 and 5 runs in North America, many of which are offered by members. Please remember that Class ratings do vary with river levels and other factors. A Class 4 run may be a Class 5 river in high water or seem like a Class 3 river at low water. So ask the outfitters what river levels are likely to be like on the day you come rafting. Most will not be able to give you exact river flow information, but in general, they can tell you what the river is normally like during the time you are coming.


  • Kennebec River Gorge Run: Class 4 during high water flows
  • Penobscot River, West Branch: Class 4-4+

New York:

  • Hudson River (Indian River to North River): Class 4 at high water flows
  • Moose River: Class 4-5
  • Black River: Class 4

West Virginia:

  • Cheat River: Class 4 at moderate flows
  • Tygart River: Class 4-5
  • New River Gorge: Class 4-
  • Gauley River: Class 4-5


  • Russell Fork: Class 5

North Carolina:

  • Watauga Gorge: Class 5
  • Nolichucky River: Class 4 at high flows


  • Chattooga River (Section 4): Class 4+


  • Selway River: Class 4


  • Upper Colorado River (Gore Canyon): Class 5-5+
  • Animas River (upper section): Class 5

New Mexico:

  • Rio Grande (Taos Box): Class 4


  • Colorado River (Grand Canyon): Class 4+


  • Forks of the Kern: Class 5
  • Tuolumne River (Cherry Creek): Class 5
  • Tuolumne River (Clavey Falls run): Class 4-4+
  • Trinity River (Burnt Ranch Gorge): Class 5
  • Cal Salmon: Class 4-5

British Columbia:

  • Nahatlatch (including Canyon): Class 4-4+
  • Stein: Class 5
  • Chilko (Lava Canyon): Class 4+
  • Fraser (Hell’s Gate): Class 4+
  • Thompson: Class 4 at high water

Yukon & Alaska:

  • Alsek (Turnback Canyon): Class 4-5