A little Adventure goes a long way!

Whitewater Rafting Frequently Asked Questions

Before Your Whitewater Rafting Trip

During Your Whitewater Rafting Trip

After Your Trip


Before Your Whitewater Rafting Trip

What sets AAE apart from the rest?

Everything! This might sound like a bold statement, but we encourage you to do some research on other outfitters in the Arkansas River Valley and throughout the state of Colorado. As Colorado’s Leaders in Whitewater Hospitality, we are dedicated to making sure that each of our guests feel welcome, wanted, and comfortable throughout their entire experience with us. From our high standards of service and professionalism (on and off the water), top-quality equipment (we have some of the newest in the industry!), and as the only outfitter with two riverside facilities, we can show you the rapids of the mighty Arkansas River like no one else!

Is rafting safe?

As with any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks. Although safety cannot be guaranteed, the entire American Adventure Expeditions staff makes your safety their top priority and it shows!

Which trip is right for me?

When choosing a trip for you and your group, there are three primary factors to consider: Your desired level of adventure, your desired trip duration, and your location. Please use our Rafting Trip Finder or call our friendly, helpful staff 719-395-2409 and let us help you choose your perfect Colorado whitewater adventure. Remember, when choosing your trip, please be realistic about everyone’s abilities and be sure to ask questions of our staff prior to booking. For other factors to consider when choosing your trip, please see our Rafter Responsibilities page.

Are reservations required?

Reservations are not required, but are highly recommended. We do accept walk-ins for all of our trips, based on availability.

How do I make a reservation?

You can book a rafting reservation on-line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or you can call 719.395.2409 and talk to one of our knowledgeable and friendly guest service representatives. They will be happy to answer any of your questions and can assist you in choosing your perfect Colorado rafting adventure.

What is the cancellation policy?

Cancellations made more than 7 days prior to the departure of the trip will receive a full refund, less a $10 per person processing fee. Changes cannot be made to your reservation within 7 days of your trip departure date. Reservations or individual party members cancelled within 7 days of the trip departure date, or that fail to show up the day of the trip, will receive no refund. It is your responsibility to be at your trip’s designated office at the scheduled check-in time. Please note that we have two different outposts on the Arkansas River so be sure to double-check the directions to your trip’s departure location. There are no exceptions to this policy so please remember to account for weather conditions, traffic, construction, etc.

What is the trip change policy?

Any changes made to a trip departure time, date, or river section will result in a $10 per person trip change fee and will be subject to availability and can be changed up until 7 days before your trip departure date. We reserve the right to alter your scheduled trip without notice or allowance for refund.

Do you offer group discounts?

Of course, when it comes to rafting in Colorado, the more the merrier! We offer some of the best group discounts in the Arkansas River Valley! Please check out our Groups and Corporate Rafting page for more information. Please note that groups of 10 or larger will receive complimentary rental gear (a $10/person value)!

Are there any additional charges?

Yes, a 9.75% land use and access fee will be added to each trip. Also, rafting guide gratuities and optional rental equipment are not included in the trip price.


During Your Trip

When should I arrive?

Please arrive at your trip’s departure office at least 45 minutes prior to your scheduled whitewater rafting trip. Feel free to come even earlier as both of our facilities have riverside picnic pavilions to enjoy a snack or take in the gorgeous views.

What should I wear?

Come prepared with a swim suit and quick-drying shorts and sandals with a heel strap or tennis shoes you don’t mind getting wet. For cooler days, it’s a good idea to bring some extra layers, but be sure to avoid cotton as it will keep you cold and wet. We have modern and comfortable equipment (wetsuits, rivershoes, and splash jackets) available to rent at a price of $5/each or $12 for all three items.

Do I need to know how to swim?

All of our guests are fitted with Coast Guard approved Type V life jackets that are designed to keep you afloat in the event that you find your self out of the raft. However, swimmers are more comfortable in the water and having this skill greatly increases your ability to get out of the river if you find yourself in the water. The question you need to ask yourself is if the boat tips over or you fall out, will you be able to get yourself to shore or back to the boat without assistance? All rafters must be willing and able to participate in their own self-rescue.

What is the difference between a paddle boat and an oar boat?

In a paddle boat, everyone paddles! In an oar boat, the guide does all of the work. We offer both options, so if you have questions on which type of boat is best for your group, please ask! One of our helpful reservationists will help you choose the boat that is right for you.

How many people go in a raft?

The number of people per raft can vary from trip to trip. However, all of our rafts can comfortably accommodate seven guests and one guide.

What do the rapid ratings mean?

Rapids are rated on a scale from Class I through Class VI and are as follows:

  • Class I: No significant waves or obstacles
  • Class II: Rapids with regular waves, clear passages and wide channels.
  • Class III: Irregular waves and narrow channels. Maneuvering to avoid obstacles is required.
  • Class IV: Intense, but predictable rapids requiring precise maneuvering, with some unavoidable waves and tight passages.
  • Class V: Long, and or violent rapids with large drops, unavoidable waves, and tight channels requiring precise maneuvering.
  • Class VI: Virtually non-navigable, or navigable only at particularly favorable river levels.

Can I bring my camera?

If your camera is not waterproof, we do not recommend bringing it on the trip as it will get wet! However, reusable waterproof cameras are available for sale in our retail shop and are ideal for taking on rafting trips. Also, please keep in mind that Arkansas Valley Digital Imaging will be taking multiple shots of your raft during your trip and will be available for viewing and purchase immediately following your trip.

What if the weather is bad?

Our trips leave as scheduled, rain or shine. In the event of extreme weather conditions, we do reserve the right to alter your trip.

Is lunch included?

A gourmet, riverside lunch is included on a few of our rafting adventures. On our Bighorn Sheep Canyon and Brown’s Canyon Full Day Trips, you’ll enjoy making your own ‘Whitewater Wrap’ with a garlic herb tortilla, local deli meats and cheeses, fresh greens, tomato, onion, bacon, avocado, along with dijon mustard, and chipotle mayo. We round out the meal with fresh seasonal Colorado fruit, all-natural kettle potato chips, and baked cookies. On our Numbers Full Day Trips, Royal Gorge Full Day Trips, Brown’s Canyon Deluxe, and all Float ‘n Fly Trips, you’ll enjoy a hot-of-the-grill 1/3 lb burger from a local farm here in Salida on a fresh kaiser roll with all the fixings above, fruit, chips, and baked cookies.


After Your Trip

Are gratuities acceptable?

Yes. Gratuities for guides are acceptable and greatly appreciated.

Can we purchase souvenirs?

Absolutely! We have two first-class retail shops stocked with a wide variety of T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, snacks, drinks, etc….come on in!