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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rapids featuring whitewater, close to the Rhine Falls
Violent water below Niagara Falls

A rapid is a section of a river where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient causing an increase in water velocity and turbulence. A rapid is a hydrological feature between a run (a smoothly flowing part of a stream) and a cascade. A rapid is characterised by the river becoming shallower and having some rocks exposed above the flow surface. As flowing water splashes over and around the rocks, air bubbles become mixed in with it and portions of the surface acquire a white colour, forming what is called "whitewater". Rapids occur where the bed material is highly resistant to the erosive power of the stream in comparison with the bed downstream of the rapids. Very young streams flowing across solid rock may be rapids for much of their length.

Rapids are categorized in classes, generally running from I to VI. A Class 5 rapid may be categorized as Class 5.1-5.9 respectively. While class I rapids are easy to negotiate and require no maneuvering, class VI rapids pose threat to life.

See also

External links


  • Mason, Bill. Path of the Paddle, 1984, Northword Press, Minoqua, WI.

Simple English

The Lavittakoski Rapids in Finland

Rapids are found on rivers. Rapids are where the river bed is rocky, and the river runs fast over and around the rocks. Rapids are found in the mountains near the beginning or "headwaters" of a river. The word "rapids" is always plural, (like "scissors" and "trousers"). The word "rapid" means "very fast".

Because of the splash made by the water going over rocks, rapids are also called "whitewater". Some people enjoying whitewater canoing or whitewater rafting as a sport.

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