Home to two major rivers—the Arkansas and the Colorado—as well as a multitude of other waterways that begin gushing when the snow of the Rocky Mountains melts each summer, Colorado is one of the United States’ top river-rafting destinations. Here are our ideas and tips to help you choose the best rafting tour for you.
- Tackle the Class III and IV rapids of the Arkansas River through Browns Canyon National Monument on a white water tour from Buena Vista.
- Paddle through Glenwood Canyon’s Class III and IV rapids on the Colorado River on a tour from Glenwood Springs.
- Experience the Royal Gorge, one of Colorado’s deepest canyons, on an Arkansas River rafting tour from Cañon City.
- Discover the Animas River and its Class I and up rapids on a tour from Durango.
- Closer to Denver, enjoy the Class II and III rapids of Clear Creek on a tour from Idaho Springs.
Things to Know
- Colorado’s rafting season is generally May to September.
- The amount of winter snowfall determines the water levels of the rivers each year, meaning that dry winters usually result in a shorter rafting season.
- River rapids are categorized into six classes, from Class I: easy to Class VI: extreme.
- Helmets, waterproof jackets, and other safety gear are typically provided.
- Rafting tours in Colorado’s popular vacation spots are generally family friendly and cater to beginners; you’ll receive a safety briefing and paddling instructions from the guide.
- Some tours offer a choice between a half- and full-day tour; full-day tours often include stopping on the riverbank for a provided lunch.
- The sun is stronger in high elevations so wear sunscreen, and bring sunglasses and a hat with straps so you won’t lose them in the water.