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7 Best Places for White Water Rafting in Colorado

royal gorge white water rafting colorado

Since the 1970s, commercial whitewater rafting has been one of the most adventurous ways to experience the incredible wilderness of Colorado. Trust us: Finding the best white water rafting in Colorado is a dream worth pursuing. Grab a paddle, pull on a life jacket, and hit the rapids.  Here are seven of the most famous and not-to-be-missed stretches of whitewater that Colorado has to offer.

browns canyon white water rafting colorado

Browns Canyon

Dynamic granite walls stretch above the Arkansas River like a castle’s watchtowers, and both paddlers and anglers alike gawk skyward in appreciate of the geological glory. President Obama designated the Browns Canyon National Monument in February 2015 – 21,586 acres of pristine canyons, rivers, and backcountry forest in Colorado’s incredible Arkansas River Valley. From Buena Vista to Salida, the canyon elevation ranges from 7,300 to 10,000 feet and features views of the snow-capped Sawatch Range.  

The iconic rapids along this lifeline include Zoom Flume, Big Drop and Toilet Bowl, and range from Class II-III.

royal gorge white water rafting colorado

Royal Gorge

The Royal Gorge is one of the Centennial State’s most popular attractions and home to one of the world’s highest suspension bridges – 1,270 feet across and 956 feet above the water. Outside of Canyon City and near Colorado Springs and Pueblo, the Gorge feels middle-of-nowhere, yet is easily accessible.

One of the most popular ways to experience the canyon and bridge is to ride the rapids below: an adventurous class III-IV rodeo. You can also combine rafting and a visit to the suspension bridge in the same trip to make the most of your Royal Gorge experience!

Yampa/Green River

Inside Dinosaur National Monument, this water curls its way through an area of archeological phenomena, fossils, and American Indian rock petroglyphs. Among unique geological formations and sandy stretches, paddlers can soak up the sun.

bighorn sheep canyon white water rafting colorado

Bighorn Sheep Canyon

Running the Bighorn Sheep Canyon offers a family-friendly day on the rapids through a gorgeous high desert landscape. Along this section of the Arkansas River Valley, catch a glimpse of Colorado’s official state animal, the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. Eastbound between Salida and Canyon City, the river’s rapids include Five Points, Spikebuck,  and Shark’s Tooth (all class II-III).

Animas River

In Colorado’s Southwest, the Animas is famous for its technical Class IV and V rapids, which steal the spotlight as some of the most challenging commercially rafted segments in the entire country. If you’ve never been to Durango, the mining town serves as a charming backdrop to the river, which snakes through town.

the numbers white water rafting colorado

The Numbers

Yee-haw! It’s time for an adventure: Class IV-V rapids await paddlers on The Numbers.  This route gets its name from the nearly continuous rapids along this segment of the Arkansas River. Once you get a break from the rapids, soak in the stunning scenery lining the route.

Cache la Poudre River

The Cache la Poudre River is Colorado’s first and only federally-designated National Wild and Scenic River. Along this stunning route, you’ll find beginner and intermediate level rapids like Pinball, Roller Coaster, and Headless bridge.

No matter your skill level or experience, your perfect rafting adventure is waiting for you in Colorado. Start planning your next rafting adventure with the experienced guides at American Adventure Expeditions today!