Ah…Colorado. The sights, smells, and sounds of the Rocky Mountains are enough to intoxify anyone with delight. What could be better than spending a day (or week!) in the mountains?
Well, how about some white water rafting?
Colorado boasts some of the best guided white water rafting opportunities in the nation. In this article, we’re teaming up with the outdoor activity pros at the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center to give you the skinny on exactly where these rating hotspots are.
Whether you’re a seasoned river rat or a complete white water newbie, there’s a fit for you at one of these six awesome white water rafting destinations in Colorado.
#1: Roaring Fork River
If you ever find yourself planning a trip to the Aspen or Carbondale areas, then be sure to check out the white water rafting to be found at Roaring Fork River. But, be careful: these rapids can often become quite extreme, especially when winter snowmelt makes its way down to the river banks in the late spring.
Common inlets for rafters are near the 12,000 foot mark, altitude-wise. So, if you’re not accustomed to being ‘at elevation’ prior to your rafting trip, tread lightly.
#2: Yampa River
Steamboat Springs residents know better than most the beauty and power of the Yampa River, which is a free-flowing tributary that offshoots from the Colorado River. A famous tourist destination in this area is the Dinosaur National Monument, a canyonic area which is bisected by Yampa River.
Imagine white water rafting down a river and seeing dinosaur fossils embedded in the rocks around you. Sounds like a good time, doesn’t it?
#3: Clear Creek
Take I-70 West from Denver and one of the first white water rafting destinations you’ll find is Clear Creek.
What makes Clear Creek so popular with rafting enthusiasts is its broad spectrum of rapid class sections. There are plenty of beginner-level routes to take as well as multiple Class 5 rapids that are only suitable for veteran river navigators.
Idaho Springs is a popular starting point for those looking to tame Clear Creek. You’ll find easy access to the river bank not far from a parking area, and you’ll have more than 60 miles of river to choose from, stretching all the way into Clear Creek Canyon.
#4: The Arkansas River
Do you get excited thinking about dropping 5,000 in elevation over a 125-mile stretch of river? That’s what is in store for white water rafters who choose to tackle the mighty Arkansas River, a large portion of which ambles through much of Colorado.
Similar to Clear Creek, the Arkansas River offers rapid class levels that are appropriate for rafters of all skill levels. This river is an especially good option for travellers who’d like to experience a bit of luxury—Royal Gorge Cabins, a high-end vacation lodging provider nearby, fits the bill for those with even the most exquisite taste in accommodations.
#5: The Colorado River
This list simply wouldn’t be complete without a mention of one of the greatest rivers to flow through the United States: the Colorado River.
Not only is the Colorado River one of the most famous in the nation, it’s also one of the longest. At more than 1,400 miles long and coursing through 11 national parks, the Colorado River takes the cake as the most popular white water rafting destination throughout North America. With as long as it is, it can be daunting choosing the best inlet point. The good news is that there are plenty of options, including Breckenridge, Glenwood Springs, and Grand Junction.
Remember that there are sections of the Colorado River that are strictly for advanced rafters who know how to negotiate Class 5 and 5.x rapids, so be sure you do your research beforehand. If you’re new to rafting, consider hiring an expedition tour group to ensure that you enjoy yourself while remaining safe.
#6: Rio Grande River
We saved the Rio Grande River for last not because it’s the least attractive option but because it is one of the most majestic. The views that can be had while rafting this river cannot be overstated, as it runs through the gorgeous San Juan Mountain Range.
Its impressive length of 1,760 miles makes it the nation’s fifth longest river, and the Rio Grande has sections that are suitable for virtually all experience levels.
Whichever river you choose to run, don’t forget to keep safety first. If you need a helping hand in planning your trip or getting rafting advice, feel free to contact the white water rafting experts at the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center.
Now grab your paddles, get out there, and have fun!