Arkansas River Rafting

The Arkansas River in Colorado is one of the most popular Rivers in America for whitewater rafting. The Arkansas River offers a variety of rapids, on multiple sections, ranging from easy to very challenging, making it accessible for both family outings as well as the extreme thrill seeking rafter. Outfitters typically offer trips from half day to several days depending on what your wishes are.

The Arkansas River offers a number of sections of whitewater rafting

The 100-mile stretch of whitewater on the Arkansas River, which is divided into a number of sections, starts just east of 14,421-foot Mt. Massive and is the wildest section on the nation's fourth longest river. Its class III and IV rapids rock and roll though the 1,500-foot sheer canyon walls of The Royal Gorge. Many guided trips put in at a boat launch known as "the numbers". Day 1 offers immediate experiences with six class IV rapids in the first 5 miles. You'll raft through another 16 boulder-choked miles before stopping at a campsite on the river's right bank. Get ready for steaks and Dutch-oven desserts before falling asleep to the sounds of the river and fresh mountain air. Wake early the next day and continue downstream for 19 deep canyon miles before takeout at Echo Canyon.

Whitewater Rafting on the Arkansas River in Colorado

Flowing from the snow-drenched Sawatch Range east of Crested Butte, the "Ark" dishes out equal doses of inspiration and humility as it carves its way through more than 100 miles of classic Colorado rafting country.

Though solitude is not its strong suit, the Ark provides some of the most varied rafting opportunities in North America. From the Class IV "Numbers" section, located just above the town of Buena Vista, to the popular Royal Gorge near Canon City, rafters will find all the holes, rapids and waves they can handle--and perhaps a few they can't.

Class III Brown's Canyon is the closest section to Crested Butte (and the most popular), with heavy flows some of the rapids in this 12-mile section move up to Class IV status, it's still considered one of the state's classic intermediate runs. To raise the bar a notch after Brown's, head upstream to the Numbers section, where the first rapid--Number One--will quickly inform you if you've made the right decision.

The Royal Gorge lies farthest downstream--and closest to the Denver metropolitan area--but good whitewater and gorgeous geology still make this nine-mile stretch a rafter's dream. If you find yourself near Salida June 14-17, take advantage of the annual FIB-Ark--the oldest whitewater festival in the country.

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Whitewater Encounters

14825 US Highway 285SalidaCO81201USA


Arkansas River State Colorado

Buffalo Joes Whitewater Rafting

PO Box 921Buena VistaCO81211USA


Arkansas River State Colorado

Kodi Rafting

PO Box 4275FriscoCO80443USA


Arkansas River Blue River Clear Creek River Colorado River CO Delores River CO State Colorado

Independent Whitewater

333 MaxwellSalidaCO81201USA


Arkansas River Clear Creek River State Colorado

River Runners


Arkansas River State Colorado State Utah Yampa River