The Lingo Of Whitewater Rafting

Posted on: 22 March 2022


Have your first whitewater rafting trip planned for the near future? If so, it will help to know some of the language that is used when navigating your raft down the river to help avoid any potential confusion.


See something downstream that is sticking out of the water? This is known as an eddy rather than just an obstacle. An eddy is not just an obstacle that you can run into but typically creates calm water on the opposite side of it. If an eddy is large enough, it can be a place you position the raft to slow you down from the ongoing current.


When the water hits an obstacle on the side upstream at great force, it causes the water to build up momentarily before going over the obstacle. This is known as a pillow, and the current can be strong enough to take your raft right over the obstacle. 


A hole is a way to describe the way that the water flows over an obstacle and hits the water. When the water comes down with great impact, this is known as a hole. It's referred to as a hole because that downward water pressure can be enough to suck the raft into it if you are not careful.

River Left And Right

Do you know how theater performances refer to the directions on the stage as stage left and right because it can be confusing? The same type of terminology is used to refer to the directions on the river. River left and river right are used to describe the left and right sides of the river as you are looking down the river in the direction that the water is flowing. 


See a part of the river downstream where water is flowing through it, but it would be impossible for your raft to fit through the same area? This is a strainer, and it is a part of the river that you should avoid. If someone on your raft says that they think a part of a river is a strainer, they are saying to avoid going towards it because you'll get stuck.


It's possible for the river to actually go upward, with the water having enough force to take the raft up and over to the upper part of the river. This is referred to as a boil to describe the upcoming change in elevation. 

For more information, contact a whitewater rafting company near you.