How to Choose the Best White Water Rafting Trip

Colorado is famous for its incredible mountains. While the well-kept trails to the top of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks are incomparable, a less-highlighted route weaves between the peaks: a web of rivers boasting thrilling whitewater.

In the northwest corner, the Green River runs into the Yampa. Colorado’s north-central segment holds the North Platte and Cache la Poudre. Further south, the Roaring Fork connects to the belly of the Upper and Lower Colorado. A hair east, Clear Creek and South Platte are closer to the Front Range. On the opposite side, the Gunnison is a step closer to the Uncompahgre and Dolores. Then, throughout the southwest, lies the Arkansas, Animas, Piedra, San Juan and the Rio Grande—to name a few.

Don’t let the Centennial State’s plethora of incredible paddle options overwhelm you. Get excited to experience a refreshing path through the mountains that’s fed by the mountain runoff. Here’s a checklist to help you choose the best white water rafting trip:

1) Adrenaline Gauge

Each river alternates between sections of smooth water and whitewater, also known as rapids. The rolling curl and a brief splash from a Class I or Class II rapid may be enough to get your heart rate up. Or, if you’re an adrenaline junkie-type, you may love the larger dips and bigger waves of Class III or IV.

Regardless of the thrill level that you choose for your next trip, a guide will help teach the paddle strokes, safety protocol, and lead the group along the way.

2) Water Levels

An amazing aspect of water adventure is that the experience constantly changes. As you journey down the river, the water’s current and the river’s obstacles will evolve and shift. Day-to-day weather also affects the water level, the river’s speed and the difficulty of the rapids.

An exciting time to go whitewater rafting is during our run-off. The water levels are higher—which means certain rocks and debris might be buried below—and the water moves at a faster pace.

In general, June is high water season, as the temperatures rise and melt the snow-capped peaks. Whitewater trips will be chock-full of more experienced paddlers and folks who are eager to ride rapids and feel a splash!

3) Sunshine versus Clouds

While going rafting beneath the sunshine is idyllic, it’s important to consider sun protection, including a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a shirt that covers the arms.

If your trip is scheduled on a cloudy or chillier day, awesome apparel exists to stay warm even if the water is cold or the sun is behind the clouds. The rafting headquarters has gear that’ll help keep you warm, including wetsuits and splash jackets!

For cold temperatures or sunshine, you can also rock wool socks beneath your footwear.

4) Trip Planning

As you plan the raft trip, consider how much time you and your friends or family have in total.

For instance, for a multi-day trip, you can venture further from your hometown and paddle in a part of the state that you haven’t yet experienced. Or, you can choose a river that’s closer to where you live.

You can opt for a full day on the water, or choose a half-day trip to be paired with another activity, such as mountain biking or hiking.

Also research the campsites, activities, and trails that are along the drive or near the river where you plan to paddle.

5) Wildlife

When you choose your outfitter, be sure to ask about the wildlife! If you love birding, for instance, there could be a stretch of river where the Bald Eagles or Golden Hawks are most likely to be seen. Bighorn sheep can commonly be seen scattered along the sides of the river in the aptly-named Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

No matter what kind of rafting trip you’re looking for, Colorado has you covered! Start planning your rafting trip today by contacting the American Adventure team – we’re happy to answer any questions you have and help you find the perfect trip!

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