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5 Most Dangerous White-water Rapids

Lochsa River
A kayaker on the Lochsa River in Idaho
A kayaker on the Lochsa River in Idaho
Noah Clayton/Photodisc/Getty Images

The Lochsa runs 70 miles (113 kilometers) from Powell to Lowell, Idaho, with its headwaters melting from the snowpack of Lolo Pass, which separates Idaho and Montana. Along the way, you'll find 63 rapids graded class III or above [source: GORP].

In fact, Lochsa (pronounced "lock-saw") is a Nez Perce Indian word meaning "rough water," and rough it is, especially along the 13-mile (21-kilometer) stretch between Indian Grave Creek and the Wilderness Gateway Bridge. GORP notes that this section of the river should "be attempted with extra precaution only by skilled kayakers and rafters with dependable, heavy-duty equipment" [source: GORP].

Described by New York Times writer Timothy Egan as a "ferocious and explosive whitewater for hard-core rafters," the river includes challenges with names like Grim Reaper, Bloody Mary and Termination [sources: The New York Times,]. If you're unsure about running it, consider scouting ahead, which is easily done by driving up U.S. Highway 12, which runs along the river's length.

Unfortunately, this section of river has taken lives. In May 2011, a 35-year old Wisconsin man fell from his raft during a guided trip and, despite two kayakers providing support by throwing the man a safety line, he was swept downstream and tragically perished [source: Spokesman-Review].