Top 10 Most Dangerous Rivers In The United States of America

The top 10 most dangerous rivers in the United States of America include the deadly Salmon River, the mighty Rogue River and the insane American River, today we look at just how deadly they are.

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10 – Rio Grande

Rio Grande: The Rio Grande, which forms part of the border between the United States and Mexico, is known for its strong currents and treacherous rapids, which have caused several accidents and fatalities over the years.

In June 2021, a group of migrants attempted to cross the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas, when their raft overturned, resulting in the deaths of two children and one adult.

In May 2018, a Border Patrol boat carrying five agents overturned on the Rio Grande near Laredo, Texas, resulting in the deaths of one agent and the injury of another.

In June 2014, a group of nine people attempted to cross the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas, when their inflatable raft capsized, resulting in the deaths of five people.

In August 2013, a group of migrants attempted to cross the Rio Grande near Mission, Texas, when their raft capsized, resulting in the deaths of four people.


9 – Salmon River

The Salmon River, located in Idaho, is known for its whitewater rapids, which can be difficult to navigate and have caused several accidents and fatalities.

In June 2021, a woman died after being thrown from a raft on the Salmon River near Riggins, Idaho and another incident saw a man drown after falling out of a raft on the Salmon River near Stanley, Idaho.

In August 2016, a woman drowned after being thrown from a raft on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho while a man died after falling out of a kayak on the Lower Salmon River in Idaho.


8 – Rogue River

The Rogue River, located in Southern Oregon, is known for its Class IV rapids, which have caused several accidents and fatalities over the years.

The river flows through a variety of landscapes, including rugged canyons, dense forests, and open meadows while running for approximately 215 miles (346 kilometers).

Deaths on the Rouge include a man killed after falling out of a raft on the Rogue River near Galice, Oregon and a man drowning after jumping into the Rogue River from a bridge near Grants Pass.

In June 2012, a man died after falling out of a raft on the Rogue River near Agness, Oregon and in June 2010, a woman drowned after being thrown from a raft on the Rogue River near Grants Pass, Oregon.


7 – Chattooga River

The Chattooga River, located in Georgia and South Carolina, is known for its Class V rapids, which are among the most difficult and dangerous rapids in the Southeastern United States.

The Chattooga River’s headwaters begin in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and it was designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1974.

A popular destination for recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, and whitewater rafting, several notable incidents have occured over the years.

In 1976, a 27-year-old woman named Lorraine May was killed when her raft capsized on the river’s Bull Sluice rapid, as she was not wearing a life jacket she was swept underwater by the strong currents.

In 1992, a man named Alan Hruby died while attempting to navigate the river’s Five Falls section in a kayak, Hruby was a skilled paddler, but he became trapped in a hydraulic feature known as “The Room of Doom” and drowned.

In 1996, a group of Boy Scouts from Atlanta were on a rafting trip on the Chattooga River when their raft capsized in the river’s Sock-em-dog rapid, Four Scouts drowned in the accident, and several others were injured.


6 – Klamath River

The Klamath River, located in California and Oregon, is known for its strong currents, which can make it dangerous for swimmers and boaters.

The Klamath River has several rapids that are classified as Class IV and V, which require advanced whitewater skills to navigate safely.

These rapids can be particularly challenging during high water flows, which are common in the spring and early summer.

Fed by snowmelt from the surrounding mountains, this can make the water extremely cold, especially early in the season and has resulted in a number of hypothermia deaths on various stretches.

In 2002, three people died on the Klamath River when their raft capsized in the river’s notorious Hell’s Corner rapid with he victim part of a group of six people, only one of whom was wearing a life jacket.


5 – American River

The American River is approximately 120 miles long and is located in Northern California and flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through the Sacramento Valley and into the Sacramento River.

The American River has had several accidents and incidents over the years, particularly involving water activities like swimming, kayaking, and rafting.

In 1997, a rafting accident on the South Fork of the American River led to the death of four people while in 2009 a woman drowned in the American River while attempting to rescue her dog.

Another woman died in 2017 after falling off a raft on the South Fork of the American River while in 2020, a man drowned in the American River near Auburn while attempting to swim across the river.


4 – Merced River

The Merced River, located in California’s Yosemite National Park, is known for its swift currents and cold water temperatures, which have contributed to several drowning deaths over the years.

Many hazards are associated with this river including rocks, boulders, and other underwater obstacles, currents can be powerful enough to sweep swimmers or rafters downstream and snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Several people have died just from trying to swim in this river and both hikers and fishermen have also fallen victim to its deadly currents.


3 – Arkansas River

The Arkansas River, which flows through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, is known for its rapids, which range from Class II to Class V.

In 2001, a man drowned in the Arkansas River while kayaking through the Royal Gorge section.

In 2007, a woman died after her raft overturned in the Arkansas River near Canon City.

In 2014, a man drowned in the Arkansas River while kayaking through the Numbers section.

In 2015, a man died after his raft overturned in the Arkansas River near Browns Canyon while in 2019, a woman died after her raft overturned in the Arkansas River near Buena Vista.


2 – Snake River

Located in the Pacific Northwest, is known for its strong currents, steep drop-offs, and unpredictable weather, which can make it dangerous for swimmers, boaters, and fishermen.

The Snake River has several notable dams, including the Grand Coulee Dam, which is the largest hydroelectric dam in the United States, and the Hells Canyon Dam, which is the deepest river gorge in North America.

The largest tributary of the Columbia River, contributing approximately 42% of its total flow, its headwaters are located in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Four people have drowned alone while rafting on this river and these incidents serve as a reminder of the potential dangers and risks associated with water activities.


1 – Colorado River

The Colorado River runs through seven states and is known for its treacherous rapids, which have caused numerous accidents and fatalities over the years.

Between 2005 and 2019, there were a total of 244 river-related fatalities in Grand Canyon National Park, which includes deaths in the Colorado River.

The 1983 Glen Canyon Dam disaster, which resulted in several deaths, and a 2018 boat crash on Lake Powell, a reservoir on the Colorado River, that left four people dead are other notable incidents on this river.

The river is a popular destination for white-water rafting, but it can be dangerous for inexperienced rafters.



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