Colorado Rafting Trips That Must be On Your Radar

Take it from your favorite paddle junkies. We’ve had the opportunity to explore rivers all over our home state. Colorado is home to some incredible rafting adventures. If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore many of them, let us fill you in.

Here are the Colorado rafting trips that must be on your radar:

Northwest Colorado:

Our state’s namesake river, the Colorado River offers a number of great stretches that can be done in a day. From the mouth of Gore Canyon, all the way down into Glenwood canyon, there are a number of day-trip sections suitable for a wide range of abilities.

The Eagle River also offers some outstanding day-trip stretches. Check out the upper Eagle from Minturn to Edwards and the lower Eagle River from Wolcott to the town of Eagle.

Another Norwest Colorado favorite of ours is the Roaring Fork, particularly the Slaughterhouse section.

The Yampa River offers visitors the chance to experience a 5-day wilderness trip. The scenery will leave you dumbfounded, and then you add in the class III and IV whitewater, and this one is a winner.

Southwest Colorado:

The Animas River is a great one near Durango that offers excellent day trips. The Animas has everything from family friendly trips to difficult whitewater.

The San Juan River is unique in that visitors can experience an extended, 7-day wilderness adventure. With no difficult rapids, it’s great for families with young children. You will feel like you are the first person to ever be there.

The Dolores River also offers overnighters, from 3-day to 7-day wilderness trips. The Dolores travels through different micro-climates, starting in the mountains with tall ponderosa pines, and then turning into a classic desert canyon trip near the Utah border.

Southeast Colorado:

The Arkansas River is the undisputed Jewel of southeast Colorado and perhaps some of the most famous whitewater in the state. Well known sections of the Arkansas include Pine Creek, Numbers, Browns Canyon, Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Royal Gorge. With great day trips that are easy to reach from the front range, it’s easy to see why rafting trips on the Ark are so popular.

Northeast Colorado:

The Poudre Canyon is a Front Range favorite. This Wild & Scenic river is home to day trips just outside Fort Collins, Colorado on class III sections of the lower Poudre.

The North Platte River is a hidden gem in Colorado. But don’t let its sleepy status fool you.  The Wild & Scenic North Platte offers some awesome multi-day wilderness trips that cross from Colorado up into Wyoming.

Clear Creek is a popular paddling playground that’s close to Denver and the Front Range metro area. Visitors here can enjoy day trips on several different sections of Clear Creek.

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If you’d like to learn more about the awesome Colorado rafting trips that we offer here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, please check out our Rafting Page. You can also contact us online or simply give us a call at 970-476-3700.

Featured River: The Arkansas River

The whitewater rafting season has been outstanding here in the Vail valley and across Colorado, and we’d like to introduce you to another one of our favorite rivers.

In case you missed our previous featured river, go back and check out our profile on the Eagle River, which offers some of Colorado’s best seasonal rafting from Vail, down through Avon and Beaver Creek.

This time, let’s talk about the Arkansas River. The ‘Ark’ is well-known in Colorado for it’s incredible whitewater all summer long. But there’s more than just rapids that make the Arkansas special.

“The Arkansas River brings to mind crystal clear, relatively warm water, in a semi-arid desert with warm air temps that create a perfect rafting environment,” Commented Cole Bangert, owner and guide here at Sage.  “It’s totally unique in the west. The flows on the Ark are augmented by reservoirs upstream, so rafting is phenomenal all summer; not just during early snow melt periods, like you see on the Eagle River or Clear Creek.”

According to Cole, the backdrop on the Arkansas River also makes it unique. The entire corridor is lined with towering 14,000-foot peaks, the highest concentration of “14-ers” in the state. With snow-capped peaks above and desert granite boulders below, the banks of the Arkansas River are scattered ponderosa pine, and the vanilla aroma from their bark fills the air.

If all that isn’t enough, the whitewater is top quality. 

“The upper stretches of the Arkansas boast big class V rapids, with the steepest commercially run rapid in the U.S.,” Cole added. “The Pine Creek section drops at a gradient of over 200 feet per mile. This is a mile-long class V rapid with tricky moves, fast water, big waves, and big hydraulics that must be run with precision and power.”

Just below Pine Creek is the popular, “Numbers” stretch, where rafters will find some of the most fun class IV drops anywhere in Colorado.

And finally, below the town of Buena Vista is the most popular stretch on the Arkansas River, Browns Canyon National Monument. This spectacular canyon was designated a National Monument in 2015, and for good reason.

“Here, you have the opportunity to float through a jaw-dropping gorge,” Cole concluded. “It consists of ten miles of class III rapids, where groups and families can enjoy an incredible experience amid these impressive natural surroundings.”

For more information on our rafting trips, or on any of the great outdoor adventures that we offer from Sage headquarters in Vail, explore the rest of our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com or call us at 970-476-3700.