WikiProject Whitewater Maps

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Harry Wood kayak mapping

A project to map the world's whitewater sporting opportunities.

Whitewater sports for details of tagging.
OpenSeaMap - the whitewater-map

Sadly no current rendering of the map with Whitewater features. Helping OpenSeaMap create a layer would be the best way to help.


If your a keen whitewater user, why not join the project!

How to

Take a GPS receiver with you when you go paddling, to record the route of the river. Take a note of (or photos of) any interesting rapids or hazards along the way.

You will need waterproofing for your GPS and camera. Although the NaviGPS claims to be waterproof it is best to have a Aquapac or Pelicase. Harry does it with a non-waterproof camera in a Pelicase, but this makes it harder to get photos of every rapid/feature. Chris will use his phone and a GPSlim240 in a peli-case for recording and handy friend with a waterproof camera for pictures. Take advantage of always paddling in a minimum group of 3!

Ideally you'd paddle down the middle of the river. Probably more important for wide rivers. Less so for narrow UK ditches. Actually narrow rivers with lots of trees can loose GPS signal entirely. Improved signal might be achieved by gaffer taping the unit to your kayak or helmet, but Harry has found the front buoyancy-aid pocket to work fine. Ideally each river would be surveyed several times to pick up more details, more GPS tracks, and get a second opinion on gradings etc. We kayakers should not be afraid to adjust each other's work!

Mapping progress


United Kingdom


North East
North West
South West






French Alps



River Progress Mapper Remarks
Loisach/Griesenschlucht aluka Loisach/Griesenschlucht at


Untere Rhein-Region

Czech Republic




  • Passirio All but Merano part
  • Noce Confluence Noce Bianco x Vermigliana down to Slalom course in Mezzana
  • Isarco Vipetino - Mittewald


Related projects

  • United Kingdom waterways#Rivers - more general effort to do river mapping in the UK (and canals) Note that in the UK we can trace over NPE maps, which we should aim to do en masse. This will give us a great starting point for adding whitewater gradings.




OpenSeaMap - the whitewater-map - covers the whole world. Whitewater starts in zoom level z=9 and shows the sections in colours according to the grades of their difficulty, in z=13 you see places for put_in and egress, weirs, obstacles and rapids, camping, bed and breakfast, canoe rental stations, etc. In z=15 you see names of rafts. Select in menu "View" the layer "Sport". If you select the layer "Gauges", you can see river gauges in real time. If you select the layer "Wikipedia", you can see Wikipedia articles and photos around. Zoom in to see more.

Mapping using OpenSeaMap JOSM tools

OpenSeaMap provides tools to edit whitewater features as part of its support for water sports. There are two options that can be set in JOSM: A Tagging Preset tool to enable easy editing of water sports features and Map Paint styles to display these features in JOSM. These tools are installed from the "Preferences->Map Settings" pane: In the "Tagging Presets" tab, select "Water Sports" and click the arrow button between the two list panels. In the "Map Paint Styles" tab, select and add "Watersports" in the same way. Then click the "OK" button at the bottom and restart JOSM.

To edit a whitewater feature, select the way or node in question & then click the "Presets" menu item (or type Alt-P), then select "Water Sports->Whitewater" and the feature item. There are optional description fields in all items, optional name fields in the Section & Rapid items and mandatory Grade menus in the Graded Rapid & Section items. When these are set, click "Apply Preset" and the correct tags will be generated. (Note that any pre-existing tags will not be deleted.)

Any edited whitewater features will be rendered by the OpenSeaMap renderer & added to the Sport layer in the map. This can be found at: There is a "View" menu item from which the "Sport" item can be selected. The selected items will be overlaid on the normal OSM Mapnik map.

FranceTopo - A French project providing high quality topographic rendering based on OSM data, with an overlay for whitewater. Covers whole France plus limited areas in surrounding countries. Whitewater discussion section in the associated forum.

Forth Canoe Club Open WhiteWater Map

The first Whitewater Map: Forth Canoe Club Open WhiteWater Map covers Britain but is no longer updated

TODO (for FCC Open Whitewater map)
  • fix icon priorities
  • show section_grade tags
  • automatic update from OSM
  • better river data, get mapping!

OpenStreetBrowser rendering/tool

Open Street Browser has a 'Whitewater Information' category which displays the whitewater tags. This is a fairly new system and it still has bugs - if it doesn't work try a different browser as it isn't currently working with Internet Explorer (Jan 2012). Note that information is rendered when it's demanded... so on your first visit to a map area, unless someone else has viewed the area recently, the correct information will be displayed in the left column but the map will display "This overlay has not been completely rendered yet. Please try again later". You need to do as asked.

OpenStreetBrowser is particularly useful because it allows easy inspection of all tag contents including descriptions.

Tag information is available fairly quickly after being added to Open Street Map (and tag locations are displayed in the left column).

Currently OpenStreetBrowser uses coloured dots rather than icons for display - green for put_in or egress, red for hazard tags, green dotted lines for portage, and pink for all other information.

Look for the 'Whitewater Information' sub category under the 'Waterways and Other Water' category which is accessed through the 'more categories' link in the left column - or try this map of Scotland which should have the whitewater information already displayed. A second sub category displaying river, reservoir, lake (etc) information is also available.


The Android app OsmAnd has a Boat profile for viewing, planning routes on and navigating waterways. To show whitewater/paddlecraft objects, open Plugins > enable Nautical map view. Switch to the Boat profile then, Configure map > Routes > check the box for Whitewater sports.

Though it is best to never tag only for the renderer, this XML file describes how OsmAnd currently renders nautical features.