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River Features. Downstream V. Surface signs of current running through an obstacle Downstream V marks deeper water. Eddy.

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Downstream v
Downstream V

  • Surface signs of current running through an obstacle

  • Downstream V marks deeper water


  • An eddy is a place in the river immediately downstream of an obstacle such as a rock or stump, into which the current flows from below an obstacle, forming a pocket of upstream current.

Eddy line
Eddy Line

  • The line formed between the downstream current and the upstream current of an eddy.

  • If the opposing currents are strong enough they could potentially create a bulge in the water. This bulge is referred to as a “fence.”


  • Gradient refers to the steepness of a rivers descent.

  • Gradient is generally measured in feet per mile.


A low spot in the river where water pours back upstream to fill it. They usually appear behind pour over rocks & ledges.


  • An upwelling if water on the upstream side of a rock or bank which can possibly deflect a boat around an obstacle.

River left river right
River Left/River Right

  • Describes position on the river as you look downstream.

  • Downstream is ALWAYS the frame of reference.




  • An obstacle, usually a fallen tree or limbs that rests in the water with part of the obstacle under the surface.

  • The current can pull things down and through the obstacle and can be very hazardous.


  • Riverside feature that has fallen out over the current extending downward toward the water.

  • This feature has the potential to “sweep” paddlers out of their boat if they attempt to pass through

Branches over water= sweeper


  • A place where the water rises up due to boulders or other features under the surface of the water.

Swirlies-A whirling or eddying motion of water: a swirl of white water. These can cause paddlers to flip out of their boats.