Gunnison River Rafting Trips

Whitewater rafting on the Gunnison River in Colorado is more than an action float down the river. It is a total package of beautiful scenery, world-class fishing, wild life and riverside camping. It takes a while to get there by driving on dirt roads and hiking a mile down the trail, but once there, the excursion becomes sheer heaven.

The Colorado River in west central Colorado joins the sparkling Gunnison River at Grand Junction, and forms the powerful river system. It is this system that carved the Grand Canyon of Arizona and eventually flows to the Gulf of Mexico. The Gunnison River holds the distinction of being the largest river in Colorado whose entire basin lies within the boundaries of the state.

White water rafting through the Black Canyon

The Gunnison River has a wide variety of attributes, depending on where you view it. The River begins as a clear mountain stream and widens into a shallow, rocky river as it passes the town of Gunnison. Further west, it spills freely into the newly created Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The Gunnison Gorge, located just downstream from the National Park, is the raftable section of the Black Canyon. It is this section of the gorge that attracts rafters, fishermen and nature lovers from near and far.

Licensed outfitters offer either 1 to 3 day white-water rafting trips down the14 miles of 17- class II, III and IV rapids of the Gunnison River. Most outfitters will have most of your essential gear carried down by horse and waiting for you by the river when you arrive. You will have to carry some of your personal gear down the 1.1 mile Chukar trail to the put-in spot. The schedule usually tries to accommodate the sweltering daytime temperatures, which can easily reach 100 degrees.

Whitewater action on the Gunnison River begins right away

With gear stowed, the trip starts with a swift bang as you slip the raft into the cold river and take your positions. Almost within seconds you most likely will be sucked into the rapids. There is nothing like jump starting the trip with a shot of white knuckled adrenaline.

It is hard to focus on the white water rafting duties due to the incredible beauty of the remote canyon as it unfolds before you. The panoramic Black Canyon seems to suddenly rise from the crystal clear green water and offer the possibility of surprising mule deer, mountain lions, elk, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, rock squirrels, and a wide variety of birds, including the golden and bald eagles.

By lunchtime, though, the heat may intensify in the canyon, and simply finding a small patch of shade on the shore and re-hydrating will probably take priority. Lunches are often stretched over a couple of hours, with the intent of avoiding the glaring midday sun.

The Gunnison River does not have a lot of whitewater compared to other Colorado rivers. Sportsmen mainly go there for the beauty and the fishing while engaging in some white water rafting and camping as well. Because of its remoteness, the Gunnison River is one of Colorado’s greatest getaways from the daily stresses of city life.

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