As the mountains melt, whitewater season is upon us! Across Colorado, from Clear Creek to the Poudre River, the snowmelt coming from up high turns to raging water, fueling some of the best whitewater rafting in the West. There is no better way to spend the long, hot, summer days then to immerse yourself in the cool mountain waters of Colorado, exploring some of the relics of Colorado’s mining age, and getting wild on rapids that are perfect for both kids and adults. Rafting in Colorado is a time-honored pastime, exploring the deep canyons that cut through Colorado’s valleys. Here are some of our favorite whitewater rivers in the Front Range.

Clear Creek – Best Whitewater Rafting Close to Boulder and Denver

This is the undisputed ultraclassic of the Boulder and Denver area. Set only an hour, deep in the confines of Clear Creek Canyon near the small town of Idaho Springs, Clear Creek offers Class II to Class V rafting for kids, adults, and families. Beginner rides have a minimum age of 7 ranging from Class II to Class III rapids, and intermediate rides have a minimum age of 15 with rapids ranging from Class III to Class V. Never rafted before? No experience needed! Even for the intermediate. The intermediate simply has more age appropriate thrills for every participant. Along Clear Creek, we’ll get to explore the relics of Colorado’s gold mining past, as we pass under bridges and past water wheels that were once the epicenter of Colorado’s gold rush. Come experience some of the best whitewater rafting near Boulder and Denver. 

Poudre River – Whitewater Rafting Near Estes Park and Fort Collins

For guests who are staying up to the North, the Poudre River is only an hour north of Estes Park and Fort Collins, with extraordinary rapids in a breathtaking canyon, and some of Northern Colorado’s best whitewater rapids. Set in the pristine towering canyons just outside of Fort Collins, the Poudre River offers Class III to Class V rapids, starting at it’s headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park and snaking all the way through the red rock country below. Fed by snowmelt coming from the Rockies and rainfall throughout the spring, the Poudre can swell to incredible levels, offering some truly dazzling whitewater opportunities for all ages. The cold mountain water makes for the perfect antithesis to the hot Colorado summers. For those who are staying in Estes Park and Fort Collins, the Poudre River makes for the perfect half-day trip without having to venture far South. 

Arkansas River – The Best Whitewater Rafting in Southern Colorado 

Flowing from its headwaters near Leadville, the Arkansas River is consistently one of the best waters in Colorado, offering some of the most thrilling Class III to Class V rapids. Flowing through canyons, wide open basins, and exciting drops, the options on the Arkansas River are open to riders who are looking for big spaces between their rapids to enjoy scenery, or those who are looking for the pure white-knuckle thrill that comes with paddling a sustained whitewater field. In areas such as Bighorn Sheep and Royal Gorge, two of the more popular areas on the river, rafters will delve deep into the canyon and then pass under one of the highest suspension bridges in the United States. For guests who are staying in Colorado Springs, this is the closest option, featuring some of the most consistent year-round rapids in the state. Join us for an exciting day on the Arkansas River. 

The Upper Colorado River – Whitewater Rafting In a True Colorado Classic

The Upper Colorado is one of the most legendary whitewater rivers in the state. From its headwaters, the Upper Colorado flows year-round, with sparkling whitewater through breathtaking canyons; featuring large swaths of Class II to Class IV rapids and some of the best fly fishing in the state. We’ll start at the waters near Pumphouse put in and raft through open plains, red rock canyons, and on the way to our put out spot at the eclectic Rancho Del Rio, we’ll pass by hot springs at Radium, and some spots where we’ll even get to get out of the boat and cliff jump into the cool mountain river. Meanwhile we’re following the historic railway that’s a testament from Colorado’s gold mining age. For guests who are staying in Estes Park, this is the best option for a thrilling full day option.

We want to get you on our exciting whitewater excursions! For families, kids, and groups, this is the best way to see Colorado’s wild rivers and cool off in the heat of summer. Check out the best of our whitewater here!

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