"Waterfall or Rapid"

Shown below are the "official" descriptions of waterfalls and rapids... defining waterfalls and rapids to fit into the "official classes" as defined below is "next to impossible"... defining them is a very subjective endeavor.  Its even difficult to determine if its a waterfall or rapids... by definition, a Class V Rapid is a "soaring fall" (so is it a rapid or a fall???)... Class IV Rapid has "drops and waves"; Tiered waterfalls have "drops in a series" (so are drops a rapid or waterfall???).  So... we choose not to get involved in that discussion and therefore do not attempt to define the waterfalls and rapids shown on our pages!  It gets even more confusing with names... some of the "waterfalls" shown on our pages are clearly "rapids", but their official names are "falls"... rather difficult to define them as rapids when their official name is waterfall!  We also decline to "rate" the waterfalls and rapids... again, this is a very subjective thing... what we may like about a waterfall, for any number of reasons, may not be at all interesting to someone else!  So, we "mostly" leave the "rating" and "definitions of whether its a waterfall or rapid" to you the viewer!

Types of waterfalls:  Block... Water descends from a relatively wide stream or river.  Cascade... Water descends a series of rock steps.  Cataract... A large waterfall.  Fan... Water spreads horizontally as it descends while remaining in contact with bedrock.  Horsetail... Descending water maintains some contact with bedrock.  Plunge... Water descends vertically, losing contact with the bedrock surface.  Punchbowl... Water descends in a constricted form, then spreads out in a wider pool.  Segmented... Distinctly separate flows of water form as it descends.  Tiered... Water drops in a series of distinct steps or falls.  Multistep... A series of waterfalls one after another of roughly the same size each with its own sunken plunge pool.

Naming of waterfalls:  If a stream has a waterfall, then 50 yards of “flat water”, then another waterfall... how are they named?  Is that one waterfall or two waterfalls?  Exactly how far apart must they be to call them two waterfalls?  As an example... in Amnicon State Park, Amnicon Falls Upper and Amnicon Falls Lower are separated by a distance of 200 feet.  Another example... Potato Falls Upper and Willard Falls are separated by 80 feet of “flat water”... so what is the “official” distance that falls must be apart to name them separate waterfalls?  Or is there a better solution on how to name nearby waterfalls?  Our solution is to name them as two separate falls when there is “flat water” between the falls and a picture of the lower falls looking upstream does not show the upper falls in the same picture.   You may ask, why is naming important?  When we first went to Upson Falls, we drove in the parking lot and found the nice falls just 100 feet to the east... we took pictures and left.  Later in a search of Google Earth we found that what we saw was only part of the Upson series of falls!  So, we went back and took pictures of two other falls upstream from the first one we viewed!  Nothing at the site tells you that there are two other falls upstream!  The “middle” upson falls is 180 feet upstream and not visible from the “lower” falls and the “upper” falls is another 90 feet upstream!  If they were named lower, middle and upper we would not have had to make the second trip!

Types of Rapids:  (Rapids are classified on the basis of navigational difficulty) -- Class I... Has small waves in fast moving water and very few obstacles.  Class II... Has wide channels and rapids that are easy to navigate, without many turns or obstacles.  Small waves less than two feet high.  Class III... Intermediate.  Strong currents require training and ability to maneuver quickly and effectively.  Guide required.  Not suitable for young children.  Class IV... Advanced.  Guide required.  Not suitable for young children.  Powerful rapids for strong paddlers that can handle fierce turns and spins.  Drops and waves are common.  Class V... Expert.  Guide required.  Not suitable for young children.  Violent, dangerous rapids, usually formed through obstructed channels, tight turns, and soaring falls.  Class VI... Unrunnable.  Likelihood of death in attempting class 6 runs.

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