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Arkansas River Levels – High Water and Colorado Rafting Safety

Here in Colorado, the Arkansas River does pretty much the same thing every season. We can start rafting on the Arkansas River sometime around the end of April, the snow starts melting sometime in mid-May which begins our high water season! Our high water season typically lasts from the end of May through the first few weeks in June. Once our high water season is over, the water levels typically level out around late-June or early-July and then they taper off until we start our low water season around the middle of August. This has been Mother Nature’s cycle since the first commercial rafting trip in Colorado 30+years ago.

Although high water and flooding can cause other Colorado rivers to ‘close’, the Arkansas River will remain open during high water! This river is very unique as there are lots of different put-ins and take-outs that make it easy for us to find an appropriate river section for each guest. We can still provide rafters that sign up for a Beginner/Intermediate trip with just that – a suitable Class II and III whitewater experience – not a flat-water trip or a float trip but a great trip for adventurous first-timers looking for a true whitewater experience.

Occasionally during high water we will stop running some of our traditional Intermediate/Advanced sections of river. However, again because of the uniqueness of this river, we are very easily able to alter our put-in and take-out locations, and still provide the guest with the Intermediate/Advanced whitewater experience that they are looking for.

Of course as with any adventurous outdoor activity, there are inherent risks that are always present. At American Adventure Expeditions, we do our very best to minimize these risks as much as possible by getting rafters on the appropriate section of river for them, providing rafters with a high-quality certified rafting guide, as well as first-rate rafting equipment like coast-guide approved Type V lifejackets, and rafting helmets on each trip. Also, each rafter will go through a complete safety orientation before getting on the river. Although we can’t guarantee safety on any of our trips, safety is our #1 priority and it shows!

To help ensure your own well-being on a rafting adventure, it is very important to first pick the appropriate Colorado rafting trip for you and your group. Be realistic about everyone’s abilities and be sure to ask lots of questions of our staff prior to booking a trip. Anyone in the group that is seriously overweight or has any medical conditions should consult a physician before attempting a rafting trip. Once you arrive, pay very close attention to the safety orientation before your trip where your trip leader will review many important points like how to stay in the boat and what to do if you find yourself outside of the boat. Also, once on your trip it is essential that you listen to your guide’s paddle commands and verbal instructions.