With the first signs of spring, the snow from the mountains melts away into the rivers, the water level in rivers goes up, and the stream accelerates. This marks a suitable time for the opening of the rafting season.
This electrifying and spectacular warm-water sport lasts from around April through October each year. This state has about 30 main areas, so it won’t be troublesome to find the nearest river and a sports store to clothe yourself adequately for that occasion.
Among the most visited places are Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, Vail, as well as Fort Collins, and southwestern cities like Durango and Buena Vista.
Before you compare and narrow down your options, knowing some facts is essential in order to undertake this endeavor.
It is vital to know your skill level before you head out on this adventure because it will protect everyone in your team and give you a memorable rafting experience. An important factor in whitewater rafting is river classification.
There are six classes as follows:
Class I: Easy. Generally horizontal, lazy-moving water with rare small-scale waves. Open course and no dangerous barriers.
Class II: Mild. Slight accelerations, low in hazard with the clear flow and a few minor barriers.
Class III: Moderate. Numerous medium-height waves. Open, with tight passages that need navigating. High-current parts with stones, creating some severe barriers.
Class IV: Difficult. High-current sections are extended, with strong waves and stones generating possible threats. Accurate navigating through limited and/or stone-choked corridors.
Class V: Extreme. Demanding, extended, and turbulent rapids. Huge, vigorous descends along an abrupt slope through forcible streams. Pinpoint accuracy navigating through tight passages and around many obstacles.
Class VI: Treated as impassable! Do not even try. Cascades and other unavoidable lethal hazards are present.
Important to Know
As earlier mentioned, anyone can engage in this beautiful sport, even families with children. There are rivers with various levels of difficulty, so you can always find a suitable one.
Other things that you should be advised about are as follows:
First, you have to choose an authorized outfitter, experienced and with good reviews. Do not go alone and with the first one that you run into.
There is an immense offer of different tours, from half a day to several days combined with camping and various outdoor activities.
The river current is the fastest commonly in May and June. Mind that circumstances could change each year, for river or even a particular spot, so keep yourself well informed.
Familiarize yourself with the definition of different river classes.
Wear a swimsuit or other quick-drying clothes, water-resistant sunblock, and water shoes or sneakers. You can even pack some dry clothes to change into when you finish.
The life vest is a must. If you do not possess one, you can rent from outfitters. It is for your protection.
Prominent Whitewater Rafting Places
Now, as a dessert, the list of recommended whitewater rafting spots.
Distinguished Colorado River
This “rio” is so glorious that even the state got its name after it. The Colorado River stretches beyond the state’s borders. It flows through seven states and two more in Mexico. It crosses 11 national parks with its impressive 1,450 miles long watercourse.
Although the Grand Canyon is the most recognized stretch, rafting Colorado’s section of the waterway is also something that you must experience. The diversity of river flows through diverse gorges with mind-blowing views, traversing both untamed whitewaters and smooth, calm stretches.
All of this makes Colorado an excellent choice for all levels of skillfulness. Some of the popular starting points are, for example, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, and Breckenridge.
Arkansas River With the Royal Gorge
One of the favorite places for rafting is the Arkansas River, especially the part of the flow that passes through the picturesque Royal Gorge. It has a peculiar, jaw-dropping 5,000-foot drop in 125 miles of length, with a start near Continental Divide.
Because it is near Denver, this river is fairly approachable. It boasts varying difficulties, from class I to class V.
The river shorelines are full of various getaways. You can opt to stay in tents or luxury cabins near the Royal Gorge. Another attraction here is the Dinosaur Experience, with a ropes lines and delightful Kids’ Dig place.
Also, there is the Winery At Holy Cross Abbey if you desire to sip some holy-good wine to relieve your adrenaline level. You can add to your itinerary the Royal Gorge Route Railroad and the historic site of Canon City.
Clear Creek, Home of Bighorns and Beavers
It’s not an unusual thing to stumble upon local wildlife along the path to Clear Creek. Bighorn sheep and beavers are most likely the ones that will greet you. Although it’s close to the highway, you will feel that you are deep in the wilderness.
This creek is in the proximity of Denver I-70. This highway road leads to ski resorts of Vail and Breckenridge.
Due to its accessibility, this is pretty favored rafting places. All ranks of rafting are available here, from amateur stretches for kids to highly daring challenges up to class V.
A proper starting point can be the former mining town of Idaho Springs. The creek flows for good 66 miles through the Clear Creek Canyon.
Roaring Fork River
Obviously, according to its name, this river is all-powerful. The Roaring Fork River sounds exactly like that — a roar or deep thunder. It is near two popular mountain towns, Aspen and Carbondale.
You can start your endeavor at the top part called Slaughterhouse. This nickname sounds threatening for a reason and comes from the extreme rapids and one of the state’s rare commercially rafted waterfalls.
The Roaring Fork starts at amazing 12,000 above sea level on the sensational Independence Pass.
If you prefer a gentle ride, set off further downstream. Here the water is clear, lower, and gentler, so you can kayak.
In total, the Roaring Fork rambles nearly 70 miles and oozes into the picturesque Roaring Fork Valley, with the end in Glenwood Springs. There you can have a proper closure of the adventure by taking a dip in Glenwood’s famous natural hot baths.
The Grandiose Rio Grande River
The name is in Spanish, and it means big river. The Rio Grande is so important for the nation that it is exceptional to get one-on-one with it and to meet with it directly while rafting. This nation’s fifth-largest river stretches for 1,760 miles in Colorado.
It rises in south-central Colorado and runs all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico. In Colorado, it stretches through the picturesque San Juan Mountains. The upper river bed is excellent for experienced people because of classes III and IV.
But the lower part is smoother. This water flow length is a very favored rafting region — the rapids are classes II and III.
The popular launching spot is the petite, lovely, historic city of Creede. Like many other mountain towns, this one was also founded as a mining town when silver was scored.
The list of suggestions can go on and on since there are plenty of wonderful rivers to visit and plunge in for a unique rafting session.