First, the skinny. Every summer, when the rains are slow to come, whitewater rafting companies in the Rockies and Ozarks begin planning their respective water runs. If you’re looking for a fun and beautiful journey in a well-made raft, check out Colorado. From the burbling splashes of the Big Thompson River to the pale blues and yellows of the San Juan River, whitewater rafting is one of the most popular summertime activities in the state.
Since the Colorado River runs right through the Colorado Rockies, a trip from Denver to the South Platte River should include a trip down the river. First, a three-and-a-half-hour drive north from Denver to Steamboat Springs, you can raft the Yampa River. With easy river navigation, tranquil places to stop to enjoy the scenery and spectacular mountain views, rafting in a Steamboat is a breezy and adventurous way to get your river-rafting fix.
Then, after a two-hour drive north from Steamboat to the Strawberry River, you can ride up to 10 miles of rapids. According to the Colorado River Outfitters, paddling the Strawberry River is the best way to learn the joy of white water rafting and to see the incredible scenery of the Rocky Mountains.
You can take a short drive from Denver to the Arkansas River, where the Arkansas River Raft Company offers a trip of up to eight hours. The trip starts at dawn in Aurora and has a relaxing paddle along the river’s scenic bends.
Rafting in Colorado
If you’re looking for a Colorado trip with the added adventure of white water rafting, the Arkansas River is a great option. Some great, family friendly whitewater rafting can be enjoyed by renting all-terrain rafts capable of going up and down the rapids. The company also rents kayaks and canoes for an easy float down the Arkansas River with stops at the scenic falls and river gorges.
River rafting safety considerations
Categorize the current water situation into something along the lines of “heavy and continuous flow,” with safety in mind. For example, if a river has a relatively steep flow and a continuous flow, and safety is paramount, the rafting operation will cease until downstream flow conditions reduce the flow downstream sufficiently to make passage safe. If you think of one of the many rivers in the area where you live as a river with heavy flow or heavy water, you can view the current flow situation, and the safety requirements, with that perspective. If you don’t think about a river that way, the rafting operation won’t stop because of the current flow.
But you can ask yourself, “What if there are intermittent moments of lower flow?” What happens then? One scenario that may arise, and where you can safely stop the operation, is for a string of backwater rapids where the current will slow down for some brief moments.
Usually, these are elements of a family river rafting adventure fully taken care of by the organizer of the rafting event or service, but it does indeed help to know a thing or two about safety protocols to follow.