Canoeing is an activity which involves paddling a canoe using a single-bladed paddle. It was used as a mode of transportation during ancient times. It then became a modern recreational activity during the 19th century. In summer of 1936, canoeing became a part of the Olympic Games.
Rafting (or whitewater rafting) on the other hand, is also a recreational activity in which you will navigate a river using an inflatable raft. It can be traced back to 1811 when the Snake River in Wyoming was planned to be navigated. It was the first recorded attempt ever. Whitewater Rafting became part of the Olympic games in 1972.
So, what are the differences between the two? Which one will you choose?
From the perspective of some enthusiasts, canoeing is less dangerous than rafting. This is because rafting is usually done in different grades or stages of rough water. Since there are risks involved, rafting would require a great deal of teamwork. Canoeing, on the other hand, can be more casual or combined with other activities (such as canoe camping). This is because canoeing can be a mode of transportation to accomplish other activities. Canoeing can also be done on lakes, rivers, oceans, ponds, and streams.
All rivers have rapids. These are graded 1-6, otherwise known as the International Scale of River Difficulty. Generally speaking, canoeing is done on rivers with rapids of Grade 2. Canoes cannot be done on rocky rivers.
Rafting, on the other hand, can be done on rapids Graded 1-5, though rafting is most popularly done on Grades 2-3 rivers.
Bottomline, it is the grade of the rapid and the river style (rocky or not) that would determine the difference. To determine which one would you like to try, check out the grade of the river first if you are comfortable with it then the craft next. River trips are so much fun anyway so you can try both.