From Mild to Wild: Denver’s TOP 3 Rafting Destinations

Denver is known for its beautiful natural landscapes and outdoor recreational activities, and one of the best ways to experience these is by going rafting. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time rafter, Denver offers some of the best rafting experiences in the country.

There are several companies that offer guided rafting trips, which can range from mild to wild depending on your preference. Some popular destinations for rafting near Denver include Clear Creek, the Arkansas River, and the Colorado River.

 

1. Clear Creek

Located just a short drive from Denver, Clear Creek is a popular spot for rafting due to its proximity and scenic beauty. 

Photo by Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau

 

Location Idaho Springs, Colorado
Travel time from Denver 40 minutes
Best time to raft May – September
Ages 6+
Duration 1/3 day, 1/2 day, and full day
Other activities in the area zipline, via ferrata

 

It offers a range of rapids that cater to all experience levels, from gentle Class II rapids to more challenging Class IV rapids. Clear Creek is known for its crystal-clear water, making it a popular destination for both rafting and fly fishing. The river runs through the scenic Clear Creek Canyon, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and rock formations. Clear Creek is conveniently located near Denver, making it an ideal day trip for those staying in the area. With its diverse rapids and stunning scenery, Clear Creek is a must-see destination for any rafting enthusiast visiting Colorado.

 

2. Arkansas River

The river is bit further from Denver but is worth the drive for the breathtaking scenery and challenging rapids.

Photo by Arkansas River Outfitters Association

 

Location Buena Vista, Colorado and Canon City, Colorado
Travel time from Denver ~2 hours
Best time to raft May – September
Ages 7+
Duration 1/2 day, 3/4 day, full day, multiday
Other activities in the area zipline, via ferrata, rock climbing, lodging, horseback riding

 

It is considered one of the most popular rafting destinations in Colorado, known for its challenging rapids and stunning scenery. The river flows through the scenic Arkansas River Valley, which is home to a variety of wildlife and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and canyons. The river offers a range of rapids that cater to all experience levels, from gentle Class II rapids to more challenging Class V rapids, including the Royal Gorge section which features some of the most difficult rapids in the state. The Arkansas River is also a popular destination for fishing, with brown and rainbow trout abundant in its waters. With its thrilling rapids and stunning scenery, the Arkansas River is a must-visit destination for any rafting or outdoor enthusiast in Colorado.

 

3. The Colorado River

The Colorado River is another popular destination for rafting near Denver, with sections ranging from Class II to V rapids – making it a unique and memorable experience for rafters of all levels.

Photo by Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting

 

Location Kremmling, Colorado and Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Travel time from Denver 2 hours (Kremmling) and 2.5 hours (Glenwood Springs)
Best time to raft May – October
Ages 2+
Duration 1/2 day, full day, multiday
Other activities in the area
inflatable kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, fly fishing, off-road rentals, gear rentals, horseback riding

 

The river flows through the majestic Glenwood Canyon, providing stunning views of towering cliffs and lush vegetation. Rafters can choose from a variety of sections, including the Shoshone Rapids, which features thrilling Class III rapids and is popular among experienced rafters. The Upper Colorado River offers a more relaxed and scenic rafting experience, with gentle rapids and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The Lower Colorado River runs through the beautiful red rock canyons of western Colorado and provides a more challenging rafting experience with Class IV and V rapids. With its diverse sections and stunning scenery, the Colorado River is a must-visit destination for any rafting enthusiast in Colorado.

 

Photo by Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting

 

No matter which river or section you choose, rafting in Denver is an unforgettable experience. You’ll get to paddle through beautiful scenery, navigate thrilling rapids, and bond with your fellow rafters. It’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of Denver and get your adrenaline pumping at the same time.

 

If you’re interested in trying rafting in Denver, there are several companies that offer guided trips, including Performance Tours Rafting, Raft Masters, and AVA Rafting & Zipline. Be sure to book in advance, as these trips can fill up quickly during peak season. And don’t forget to bring sunscreen, water, and a sense of adventure!

 

Not a fan of water adventures? Check out these biking trails instead!

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