5 things to know before you book your rafting tour

Posted on February 23, 2020

Colorado whitewater rafting in the Royal Gorge.

Colorado whitewater rafting tours on the Arkansas River

Below are five quick tips for planning your Colorado whitewater rafting vacation on the Upper Arkansas River in Colorado. Choose from two River Runners locations near Colorado Springs, Denver and Breckenridge.

1. Book with a reputable Colorado whitewater rafting company

Whitewater rafting can be an amazing experience for beginners and seasoned rafters as long as everyone has the proper equipment and there is an expert guide in each raft. The only way to go for most people is hiring a certified Colorado River Outfitter like River Runners. Tour fees include guide service, logistics and rafting equipment. Photos, souvenirs and gratuities are extra.

2. Choose a date

Peak rafting season on the Arkansas River is mid-May through Labor Day with high water in June and swift water levels through August 15 (thanks to the Voluntary Flow Management Program). Flows can vary from year-to-year depending on the previous winter’s snowpack which may raise age limits and physical requirements at high water. Please call 800-723-8987 if you have questions about whitewater conditions.

3. Choose a tour

The Arkansas River has whitewater for nearly all ages and abilities. Choose the right tour for your group to keep everyone happy and safe.

Trips departing from River Runners Browns Canyon

  • Family Float (Beginner) – Class I-II
    Recommended minimum age is 3 years old and 35 lbs.
  • Browns Canyon (Beginner/Intermediate) – Class III-IV
    Recommended minimum age is 6 years old and at least 50 pounds
  • The Happy Hour Raft Trip (Beginner) – Class III
    Recommended minimum age is 8
  • The Numbers (Advanced) – Class IV-V
    Recommended minimum age is 14
  • Overnight Rafting Tours (Intermediate to Advanced) – Class III to IV (V)
    Recommended minimum age is 6 years old and at least 50 pounds (14 for advanced)

Trips departing from River Runners Royal Gorge

  • Royal Gorge (Advanced) – Class IV – V
    Recommended minimum age is 14
  • Bighorn Sheep Canyon (Beginner/Intermediate) – Class III-IV
    Recommended minimum age is 6 years old and at least 50 pounds

4. Book early for the best deal

Don’t wait until the last minute to book your Colorado whitewater rafting trip. Save money and get preferred dates and times by booking online in advance.

  • 10% Off  – PROMO CODE: ONLINE
  • Questions? Call 800-723-8987


5. Book lodging or camping early

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is a popular summer destination. Don’t miss out on the best lodging and camping. Check out some of our preferred partners below.

The best lodging

Buena Vista, CO

Salida, CO

Cañon City, CO

The best camping

Buena Vista, CO

  • River Runners Browns Canyon – four group campsites plus event space
  • Buena Vista KOA – book in advance – 5 minutes from River Runners
  • Chalk Creek Campground – book in advance
  • BLM and National Forest (FREE) – arrive early

Salida, CO

Cañon City, CO