Western Colorado Rafting Trips

Other Awesome Rafting Trips in Colorado

Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River

Westwater is a favorite among “private” boaters and raft guides on vacation. This trip features amazing sandstone walls and abundant wildlife. I have personally seen bald eagles nesting every time I’ve been there. This trip begins in Colorado and crosses the State line into Utah while on the river.

For a commercial guided trip refer to this info: Adventure Bound rafting – 800 423 4668 Online at – www.AdventureBoundUSA.com For a private permit call the Ranger Station – 423 259 7012


Clear Creek – 25 miles west of Denver, Colorado

Clear Creek has become wildly popular over the last decade or so in Colorado, largely due to its proximity to Denver, aggressive marketing by several rafting companies, and reasonably fun whitewater. The great thing about Clear Creek is there are sections appropriate for all levels of skill & experience, and stuff advanced to the point that only experts should attempt it. Clear Creek is much more suitable to boating in a kayak than in a raft, but during runoff and a bit beyond it is fine in a small raft. Anything bigger than a 14’ raft is too much boat. A narrow whitewater channel calls for a smaller raft. For a commercial guided raft trip call: Clear Creek Rafting at – 800 353 9901 or online at www.clearcreekrafting.com


Delores River

The Dolores is a classic western river, unspoiled, with a majestic desert backdrop. The Dolores River is located about 30 miles northwest of Cortez, Colorado, home of Mesa Verde National Park. It is west of Telluride and Durango and within easy driving distance of either of these communities. The Delores is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most rafters. The logistics are tricky but getting a private permit is free, but that doesn’t mean there will be water to raft on. The fact that it doesn’t run every year and lately it seems several years can pass without an opportunity, it takes some planning & luck to accomplish. Unlike any other river in Colorado, the Delores runs South to North, which is really weird if you’ve done much rafting in Colorado. I know of only a couple outfits that actually schedule commercial trips for the Delores. ECHO Canyon rafting near Canon City, Colorado is one. Online at www.raftecho.com For a private permit call 435 259 7012


The Upper Animas – near Silverton, Colorado

The average drop is 85' per mile with some sections dropping 150' per mile! Rafting companies actually utilize the Durango/Silverton Railroad for the shuttles, rafts and all. True Class V whitewater that should not be attempted other than by experts. If you are thinking of participating in this trip, think long and hard. I know of a couple of professional guides who have done this trip (not me!) and are not planning another trip. I hesitate to list an outfitter here, but if you really think this is a good idea, you were warned. Plus, this outfitter is quite experienced on the Upper Animas. Mountain Waters Rafting. Online at www.durangorafting.com


The San Juan River – Southwestern Colorado

The San Juan River begins high in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado near Wolf Creek Pass and the town of Silverton. From there, the river flows south and east through northwest New Mexico and southeast Utah before it terminates at what is now Lake Powell. The San Juan River watershed encompasses about 650,000 square kilometers of land. From headwaters to its lowest reaches, the river's watershed spans some 11,000 vertical feet and includes ecological systems from alpine tundra to the most arid desert scrub. When I went rafting on a San Juan trip we ran only about 40 miles and it took a couple of days and we camped one night on the river.

There were a couple of places that had some whitewater, most notably a rapid called ‘Snaggle tooth’ which was basically a whitewater wave train that led you into a big sharp rock that is best avoided. The strangest thing about the San Juan was there are rapids known a ‘sand waves’ and they are sometimes big waves. Evidently, the sand on the riverbed moves around from the force of the current, causing a whitewater wave train which can suddenly appear before your eyes…or disappear as you are riding on it. Other than that it’s a very scenic and secluded trip. We saw other boats and some campers, but overall it was very peaceful. For info on a commercially guided trip – Wild Rivers Expeditions online at: www.riversandruins.com or call 800 422 7654 For a private permit call the Ranger Station at – 435 587 1544


The Upper Colorado River – North/Central Colorado

The “Upper C” as it is known by guides, is a very easy, family style float trip. This option is good for families with small children. The commercial outfitters that run this stretch take kids as small as 2 or 3 years old, although I would never recommend a rafting trip of any sort to those younger than 5. Having been in the business for a very long time, my experience is that very young children don’t deal well with the elements involved, such as getting wet & cold. Couple that with the fact that there is always risk involved, and I think it’s just bad policy to take kids too young to understand instruction. For information contact KODI rafting at – 1 877 747 RAFT (7238) Online at – www.whitewatercolorado.com.

Also on the Upper Colorado River is Gore Canyon. This is a true Class V trip that should only be attempted by experts. I have never rafted in Gore Canyon and now that I am over 50, I have no desire to (or any other class V).Those days are behind me now, and that is a good thing. Many of my guides have participated in the annual “Gore race” and several have the missing teeth and “battle scars” to prove it. This trip is NOT for the faint of heart or to be taken lightly. If this is something that interests you find a reputable outfitter and do your homework.

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