Raft the Arkansas, Colorado & Gunnison Rivers in Colorado

By Staff ,

Rafting the Colorado River with MAD Adventures near Kremmling, Colo.

Courtesy Kremmling Colo.

Take it from us-past river guides and lifelong boaters-that rafting in Colorado and surrounding states is an experience not to be missed. Steep creeks and raging rivers crisscross Colorado, pouring down jagged mountain ranges, rolling over towering boulders forming car-size holes and continuous wave trains.

Rafts and kayaks dot the landscape hopping from eddy to eddy, charging ledge holes and diagonal waves with no fear. Families bond, couples reinforce their love, and adrenaline flows through all. Did we mention it's one of the greatest things to do on earth? (Yeah we like it that much here.)

Rafting on the East and Central Colorado River

Rafting is a way of life in eastern and central Colorado. Two major rivers - The Arkansas and Upper Colorado - flow through this section; while countless other creeks and rivers charge down valleys and tight canyons. The Arkansas, the longest river in Colorado, is home to the infamous Royal Gorge-an 18-mile stretch of impressive heart-pounding class IV-V whitewater. This is THE run if you want to test your skills and push your limits.

Other popular runs along the Arkansas include Browns Canyon Run, a 16-mile beginner to intermediate float down class II and III whitewater, and The Numbers, a stellar class IV intermediate to advanced run tackling eight challenging rapids. Beyond the Arkansas, make sure to check out the Upper Colorado, Clear Creek, and Eagle River.

Rafting on the West and Southwestern Colorado

The ideal place for either a quick daytrip or multi-day excursion, both the San Juan and Upper Rio Grande are great for boaters. On the San Juan beginners looking to hone their skills will love the 16 miles between Pagosa Springs and Trujillo. The rapids are forgiving and typically never get any harder than class III. Above Pagosa Springs, however, is some of the most technical whitewater in Colorado. If up for the challenge put in at Sand Creek and make sure to be ready for serious class V water. Other rivers in this section of the state include the Dolores River, Gunnison, and Yampa.