Whitewater sports

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Disclaimer of liability:
 Water sports safety and rescue is best learnt and practised in the safe and managed environment of a recognised training course. Any map information created here, should definitely be considered incomplete and a work in progress. In particular hazards may be missing from the map, or river rapids/sections may be graded inaccurately/incorrectly. This is unavoidable, even in finished well-polished kayaking guidebooks, because rivers can change, however in this case the whitewater maps have only been created after a brief "survey" of the river, and are likely to have omissions.
If you don't know about river practise or if a particular river is runnable, don't map it at all.
Logo. Feature : Whitewater sports
One example for Feature : Whitewater sports
Whitewater sports for canoeists, rafters and others.

OpenSeaMap includes information for whitewater sports, including for canoeist, rafters and others. See WikiProject Whitewater Maps to join the people behind this work.


A river is a watercourse that is too wide to jump over. Rivers are wide enough to be traveled by kayak or canoe. Take a waterproof GPS with (or packed waterproof), tie it firmly, and measure the exact course of the river. Note important points (set a track point, describe it by voice recorder, photo), and draw the map.

All rivers with width more than 5 meters should be drawn as natural=water+water=river along with a center way with waterway=river.

If there is a tributary: please connect the two waterways together (not only the riverbanks).

what how Key and Value Icon Remarks
river way waterway=river
+ width=#
+ name=*
+ whitewater:section_name=*
mainwaterline and associated waterlines
width of river in meter
degree of difficulty
name of whitewater section
water body area natural=water+water=river rivers broader than 5m
island area multipolygon Role: inner

Make river.png Make river landsat.png


These are subjective in the good sense of the term. See the International Scale.

If you don't know a grade or can't decide set it to "unknown". If you don't know about river practise, don't map it at all.

What How Key and Value Icon Remarks
isolated rapid node whitewater:rapid_grade=# Grade   0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
name of rapid node whitewater:rapid_name=*
sections way whitewater:section_grade=# section of waterway=river (split in JOSM by <Strg-p>)
Grade   0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 (see International Scale)

Each section starts at a whitewater=put_in or whitewater=put_in;egress,
and ends at a whitewater=egress or whitewater=put_in;egress.
the grade of a section is similar to the most difficult rapid in the section (if no portage possible).

name of section way whitewater:section_name=*

(White water classification follows its own subjectives rules not only described by these pictures, see International Scale)

Danger areas

What How Key and Value Icon Remarks
Waterfall node waterway=waterfall for a vertical drop in a stream or river, not navigable by boats. Can also add whitewater:rapid_grade=X or whitewater:rapid_grade=6 if appropriate.
Sluice node waterway=lock_gate
Weir node waterway=weir Ww weir.png together with whitewater=rapid_grade, or portage
Canoe pass nodeway waterway=canoe_pass If the weir/dam is mapped as a line, the canoe pass should be mapped as a node, at the intersection of the river and the weir/dam. If the dam/weir is mapped as an area, canoe pass can be mapped as a node or a line.
Single hazard node waterway=hazard Ww hazard.png
Restricted section way section of waterway=river
Restricted Area area Nature protection, power station, etc
Blocks way area
Hole way area
Sandbank area
Nature reserve area natural=reserve
Description node whitewater:description=text text of interest to canoeists


What How Key and Value Icon Remarks
Put in node whitewater=put_in always next to the riverbank
Egress node whitewater=egress Ww egress.png always next to the riverbank
Put in / egress node whitewater=put_in;egress Ww put in egress.png always next to the riverbank
How to put in node whitewater:put_in;egress=pier
sandy beach
steps (stone, concrete)
Portage node

+ Aids

Ww egress.png
boat slide, boat carts, etc.
put in
Parking node area amenity=parking Parking20.png


What How Key and Value Icon Remarks
Camp site area tourism=camp_site
+ name=*
wild camping permitted area tourism=camp_site
+ backcountry=yes
Boat rent area shop=canoe_hire
+ name=*
+ building=yes
NPS map symbol canoe access.png
WC node amenity=toilets
Shelter node amenity=shelter
Fireplace node tourism=picnic_site
+ fireplace=yes
Restaurant area amenity=restaurant
+ name=*
+ building=yes
+ barbecue_grill=yes

if barbecue available
Accommodation area tourism=hostel
+ name=*
+ building=yes
+ a lot of additional informations

A selection of additional values have been used in some areas with the whitewater key (see here for an analysis of values used). One used more than 100 times but not listed above is whitewater=portage_way. The key 'canoe' has been used by a few people (analysis) as has the key 'kayak' (analysis). Several suggestions have been made on the talk page for WikiProject_Whitewater_Maps for ways to ensure that this tagging scheme is compatible with tags of use for non-whitewater paddling, including the use of paddlecraft=put_in;egress (for flat-water or sea locations).

There are some existing/developing useful tagging conventions around access information - see details of: access=* or boat=* or canoe=* at Access, and boat=* at Key:boat and also a proposal at Proposed features/access restrictions 1.5.

There are also some existing/developing conventions about water coverage which may be useful (where, for example, an island may only appear occasionally). See Proposed_features/Water_cover.

Whitewater Map

Whitewater Map

OpenSeaMap shows a Whitewater-chart. Use the "Sport"-layer in menu "View > Sport" with all rivers worldwide. Kayaks and canoeing tours are displayed by colours, according to their difficulty (starting in zoom level = 9). Put in and egress are marked, also hazards and portages. OpenSeaMap is the follower of the British WhiteWater Map. [1] [2]

For alternative methods of viewing rendered maps please see suggestions on WikiProject Whitewater Maps

List of mapped rivers

Please add the international list of mapped rivers



  1. Forth Canoe Club Open WhiteWater Map was a Mapnik rendering by Jonathan Riddell
  2. WW-Icons by Stella 2008-07-19