August 12, 2017

Great Whitewater Extends Colorado Arkansas River Rafting Season

Abundant water supplies in the mountains of Colorado will extend the whitewater rafting season this year, according to the Arkansas River Outfitters Association.

“We are having an unprecedented season,” AROA President Brandon Slate said. “We’ve already seen unbelievable river flows into August and that is expected to continue through Labor Day.”

August trips are delivering fun rafting typically seen in late June or July on the Arkansas River, Wilderness Aware Rafting guide Catelin Miles said.

“This is the prefect level to run the river because you still have big splashes that cover the boat,” Miles said. “Every day, we have spring water but with warmer summer temperatures.”

Colorado’s Arkansas River is fed by snowmelt from the state’s highest rocky peaks, bringing whitewater tumbling down for the nearly quarter-million visitors that go paddling each season. The river offers Class II-V sections as it drops 4,650 feet over 100 miles before leaving the Rocky Mountains.

Frequent afternoon rains this year naturally watered crops in the southeast portion of the state, allowing snowmelt to be stored in high-altitude reservoirs that were still full as of the second week of August.

“Water storage is in good shape and recreation benefits greatly from that,” AROA Executive Director Bob Hamel said.

As agricultural producers need the water for irrigation, it will be released from reservoirs and sent downstream through popular rafting sections such as Browns Canyon National Monument and the Royal Gorge, extending the boating season into the fall.

Variety is what makes the Arkansas River the country’s most popular rafting destination. The Class III sections in Browns Canyon and Bighorn Sheep Canyon are available to kids ages 7 and up. The trips are popular for intermediate-level rapids and granite spire walls that plunge to the river banks.

The Royal Gorge offers more technical Class IV boating challenges and stunning beauty as the river flows through a 1,200-foot granite chasm and under the Royal Gorge Bridge towering overhead.

Visitors can choose from half-day, full-day and multi-day camping trips on the river.

For information about current water levels and booking a Colorado whitewater rafting adventure, contact an Arkansas River outfitter at