Colorado is home to some of the best whitewater rafting in the country. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker searching for jaw-dropping rapids or prefer a calm, scenic ride, there’s an aquatic adventure for everyone. From June to September, river rafting is at its prime. You can book a guided tour at any of these locations and customize the trip to your liking. Whether you prefer a multi-day adventure or a quick hour on the water, Colorado whitewater companies offer plenty of options for everyone.
Here are our top five destinations for the perfect whitewater rafting trip.
Buena Vista: Arkansas River
This popular attraction runs through gorgeous canyonlands and makes for an adventurous ride. Dropping 5,000 feet within 125 miles, the Arkansas River will keep your heart racing. The Numbers section is the most advanced, but Browns Canyon National Monument is a great place to start for first timers.
Idaho Springs: Clear Creek
If you’re looking for a quick trip, Clear Creek is just 30 minutes outside of Denver. There are all levels of rafting here and expect a visit from the bighorn sheep that pass through. You can find Class II to Class IV rapids on Clear Creek Upper Canyon, and an exhilarating Class V ride on the Lower Canyon.
Aspen: Roaring Fork River
When Aspen isn’t hosting its world-class skiing, the Roaring Fork River is the next best attraction. The upper section of the river called “Slaughterhouse” makes for a great challenge complete with its heart-stopping plunge at “Slaughterhouse Falls.” However, the lower area provides a mellow trip for beginners.
Creede: Rio Grande River
The Rio Grande River is an excellent destination for families with relatively calm rapids throughout the ride. You can enjoy floating through the San Juan Mountains without the worry of falling off. It is also the nation’s fifth-largest river, stretching 1,760 miles in Colorado alone.
Fort Collins: The Cache la Poudre River
The Cache la Poudre River is Colorado’s only designated National Wild and Scenic River. You can expect to see the stunning scenery and interesting rock formations as you float by. The river provides levels for all types of rafters and is convenient to access from the Front Range.
No matter where you choose to float, each of these areas will provide an enjoyable experience. Just remember that the water intensity varies by time of year. From May to June, the rivers run faster due to melting mountain snow. However, from August to September, the rivers are calmer. You can keep track of water levels for Colorado rivers at USGS.