Whitewater Adventure Outfitters
Frequently Asked Questions

  • How are rapids rated?

    – Class I: Fast-moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, easily navigable, and minimal risk to swimmers.

    – Class II: Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels. Occasional maneuvering may be needed, but easily navigated by trained paddlers. Rapids may reach the upper end of this difficulty range, designated as “Class II+.”

    – Class III: Rapids with moderate, irregular waves. Complex maneuvers and good boat control required. Injuries while swimming are possible, but self-rescue is usually feasible.

    – Class IV: Intense, powerful rapids demanding precise boat handling. Large waves and hazards may be present. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high.

    – Class V: Extremely challenging rapids with added risk. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and hazards. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is difficult.

    – Class VI: Reserved for un-runnable rapids.

  • Where are you located?

    Our Royal Gorge office is situated on West US Highway 50, 8 miles west of Cañon City. Look for our brown building on the south side of the highway, about ¼ mile east of the Royal Gorge Bridge turnoff, between mile markers 270 and 271, next to the Rock Shop. You can’t miss our blue and yellow “Raft Now” sign out front.

  • When is your season and when is the best time to raft?

    Our office is open year-round for inquiries, and reservations can be made 24/7 through our website. WAO’s rafting season runs from mid-May through Labor Day. The peak runoff period typically occurs in June, with the river being busiest from late June to mid-August. To avoid crowds, consider rafting earlier in the season. July and August offer the warmest weather. Morning half-day trips tend to be less crowded and enjoy the best chance of sunny weather.

  • Is river rafting safe?

    All our guides undergo extensive training in river rescue, first aid, and CPR. Many hold advanced certifications such as Swift Water Rescue Technician, Wilderness First Responder, and EMT. While rafting involves inherent risks, our guides are well-prepared to ensure your safety. Please review our waiver for more information and choose a trip suitable for all participants in your group.

  • Do I need to be able to swim?

    All guests are provided with Coast Guard-approved Type V life jackets designed for whitewater rafting. While swimming ability is not a requirement, being comfortable in the water makes self-rescue easier. Participants must be able to participate in their own rescue and reach the boat or shore independently.

  • Will there be photos taken of us on our trip?

    Yes, a professional photography company captures photos of all our boats on every trip. These photos are provided to you at no extra cost after your trip.

  • Do I have to paddle or can I just ride?

    At WAO, you have the choice between paddleboats and oarboats. Paddleboats require active participation from everyone on board, making it suitable for capable paddlers who enjoy teamwork. Oarboats, guided by an experienced river guide, allow you to relax and enjoy the ride. The guide does the rowing, with optional paddling at key moments.

  • Do I need to sign a waiver?

    All participants, including minors (with a Parent or Legal Guardian), are required to sign an Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risks and Release and Indemnity Agreement. This document outlines responsibilities and liability in case of injury or loss. We recommend obtaining medical insurance through your personal insurance company and disclosing any medical conditions or physical disabilities to your guide/trip leader before the trip.

  • How do I reserve a Whitewater adventure?

    You can book an Arkansas River rafting trip online 24/7/365 or call 719-275-4500 to speak with our friendly staff. We’re here to answer your questions and help you choose the perfect rafting adventure. Please add a 10% AHRA use fee for all Arkansas River trips. Full payment is due at the time of reservation.

  • What is your cancellation policy?

    We run all trips rain or shine, regardless of the weather. Please arrive on time, as late arrivals may not be accommodated, and trips may be forfeited. Cancellations and changes cannot be made online or by email and must be confirmed by a company representative. We reserve the right to cancel or alter any trip.

    – Standard Cancellation Policy: Full payment per reserved spot. If you show up with fewer people than booked, you’ll still be charged for each spot.

    – Worry-Free Cancellation Option: For an additional fee of 8%, cancellations made by 11:00 AM MST the day prior to the trip receive a full refund less 8% of the reservation total. After 11:00 AM MST, it’s full price per spot booked. Guests who opt out of this option are subject to the Standard Cancellation Policy.