white water rafting

Best White Water Rafting in Colorado | Where to Go

Colorado offers a diverse landscape containing a river canyon and rocky mountain peaks. And many know it for its outstanding water sporting activities. Luckily for us, it also provides some of the best white water rafting experiences in the country. 

Heading down a river with a team of friends or family is an excellent bonding experience for a group of people, and if you’re doing it with complete strangers it’s a great way to make friends. For those who love a little adventure while taking in the beautiful scenery, there’s nothing better than getting your paddle in the water and enjoying white water rafting in Colorado. 

Best Rafting in Colorado: What to Expect

What should you expect when you sign up for whitewater rafting Colorado? It can be a rather daunting experience if you have not done it before, but that shouldn’t put you off. Colorado rafting experiences are adjusted for different experience levels, so you shouldn’t rule out the experience just because you’re nervous. 

There are three different experience levels for river rafting in Colorado. You can choose between beginner, intermediate, and advanced. If you’re just starting out, you’ll pick the beginner option where you’ll encounter a more gentle, but still thrilling ride. 

Best Whitewater Rafting in Colorado Prices and Availability

Denver: Middle Clear Creek Beginners Whitewater Rafting

$61 USD from getyourguide.com

Denver: Upper Clear Creek Intermediate Whitewater Rafting

$71 USD from getyourguide.com

Denver: Lower Clear Creek Advanced Whitewater Rafting

$81 USD from getyourguide.com

Half-Day Bighorn Sheep Canyon Rafting Adventure in Cotopaxi

$79 USD from viator.com

Mild Cottonwood Family Float

$79 USD from viator.com

Full-Day Bighorn Sheep Canyon Rafting Adventure Cotopaxi CO

$129 USD from viator.com

The best white water rafting in Colorado takes place in Clear Creek and Bighorn Sheep Canyon. If you head to either of these locations you can experience a thrilling whitewater rafting experience while taking in beautiful sights. 

You can expect to pay between $60 and $130 for the experience, depending on your skill level and the length of the tour. Be sure to take your fitness into consideration, as taking a full-day tour may sound like a good idea, but if you haven’t trained it might be a little much. 

white water rafting colorado

Colorado rafting season: best time to book

Colorado river rafting season takes place in the summer months when the weather is more conducive to getting wet. You can go rafting in Colorado between the months of May and October, although the best three months are generally June, July, and August, so keep this in mind when you are making a booking. 

Best River Rafting in Colorado Options

The best places to white water raft in Colorado are Clear Creek and Bighorn Sheep Canyon. There are tour companies located in both locations, each offering a wonderful experience, so you’ll need to choose which works best for your travel plans. 

If you’re wondering where is the best place to white water raft in Colorado, you’ve come to the right place. Here are my personal favorite tours that provide you with the ultimate rafting experience. 

Denver: Middle Clear Creek Beginners Whitewater Rafting

beginners clear creek white water rafting

This is the best introduction to white water rafting and acts a bonding experience for you and your family. You’ll get the chance to tackle Initiation Falls, Mister Twister, Hightop, and Speed Limit with a series of 55 rapids. Although this may sound intimidating, the rapids are rather small so you won’t be in for too much of a shock. 

Your guide will teach you how to navigate rapids and show you how to pick the best lines before you hit the water. So you’ll be well prepared before heading into your first series of rapids. In between rapids, you’ll get the chance to enjoy the stunning canyons and rocky mountains surrounding. 

All the rapids are either class I – II, which means you can navigate them rather easily without the worry of tipping out. But in the case that you do leave the safety of the boat, you’ll have a life jacket that will keep you afloat until your crew pulls you back onto the boat. 

My favorite part of this trip:

This 3-hour white water rafting trip was an absolute treat and presented the opportunity to learn the ropes while still being thrown into the deep end. I loved the teamwork and learning the skills it takes to navigate rapids as a team. 

Denver: Upper Clear Creek Intermediate Whitewater Rafting

intermediate white water rafting clear creek

If you’ve got a handful of beginner’s white water rafting trips under your belt, then you’ll have no trouble with this series of class III-IV rapids. While they do take a little more skill to maneuver, you shouldn’t have too much trouble if you are with a team that knows what they are doing (somewhat). 

On this intermediate whitewater rafting trip, you’ll head a little further up Clear Creek to tackle Phoenix, Deliverance, Nomad, and Fall River rapids. These are very thrilling and are sure to bring out the adventurous side of just about anyone. 

After the 3-hour white water rafting trip, you’ll be taken back to the Argo Mill where you can inspect old relics from the gold rush. This trip comes highly recommended for anyone who has enjoyed a couple of beginner white water rafting trips before. 

My favorite part of this trip:

The views from Upper Clear Creek are absolutely stunning and offer a closer view of the mountains. The thrill of the ride was also incredible and got the adrenaline pumping. 

Denver: Lower Clear Creek Advanced Whitewater Rafting

advanced white water rafting clear creek

This section of the Clear Creek is definitely not for beginners and offers a lot more white water for the thrill seekers. During this advanced white water rafting trip, you’ll have to tackle sections like the Double Knife and Corkscrew which are better suited to those who have done many white water rafting trips in the past. 

While there is far less time to admire the scenery during this rafting trip, there are still moments to take in the canyon and rocky mountain views. For the first 10-miles of the rafting trip you can expect raging waters before it calms down slightly. 

During the trip through the Lower Clear Creek you’ll enjoy class IV-V rapids, so come mentally and physically prepared to paddle. The 3.5-hour tour will see you enjoying a thrilling journey.

My favorite part of this trip:

Double Knife, Terminator, Corkscrew, and Hell’s Corner provided an adrenaline rush like nothing experienced before in the beginner and intermediate trips. 

Half-Day Bighorn Sheep Canyon Rafting Adventure in Cotopaxi

half-day bighorn sheep canyon rafting

This half-day rafting trip is perfect for both beginners and intermediate rafters. After a short calm stretch, you’ll start hitting the bigger rapids at Bighorn Sheep Canyon. The river is probably the most popular river to white water raft in Colorado and once you’ve been you’ll find it easy to see why. 

The nice thing about this trip is that there will be a guide in each and every boat that heads down the river, so if you are not 100% confident in your paddling abilities, that should put your mind at ease. 

My favorite part of this trip:

This is a great team-building activity and offers a longer experience than the other options above. 

Mild Cottonwood Family Float

mild cottonwood family float

The Mild Cottonwood Family Float offers a much gentler experience than some of the other white water rafting experiences on this list. You’ll enjoy class II-III rapids most of the day, interspersed with plenty of time to just float and relax. 

This is a great experience for those who want to enjoy being on the water as opposed to the thrill of navigating huge rapids. It’s also a lot shorter than the other trips with an expected tour time of 1.5 – 2.5 hours. 

My favorite part of this trip:

This was a particularly relaxing trip that provided plenty of times to sit back and take in the scenery as well as giving us the chance to snap lots of pics along the way. 

Full-Day Bighorn Sheep Canyon Rafting Adventure Cotopaxi CO

full-day bighorn sheep canyon rafting tour

This 7-hour tour is definitely for those who have plenty of stamina throughout the day. But don’t expect to be paddling big rapids the entire way, as there are plenty of locations where you can hop out for a swim in the Arkansas River, or watch the local wildlife. 

As the day progresses you’ll tackle bigger and bigger rapids, so it’s perfect for those who are wanting to learn how to white water raft. In the morning you’ll tackle class II-III rapids before taking a break. In the afternoon you’ll get your rafting on and tackle class III-IV rapids after downing a delicious lunch. 

My favorite part of this trip:

Having an entire day excursion on the water was an incredible experience and allowed for a lot of learning along the way.

Just remember that no matter where you are rafting and who you are rafting with, you should always stick to the rafting safety guidelines to ensure you are looking after yourself as best as possible.

Other Activities in Colorado

There are a handful of other tours in Colorado that are worth trying. Check these out for a little more entertainment. 

Final Thoughts on Colorado White Water Rafting

River rafting in Colorado is one of the best experiences you can have on the water. The beautiful surrounding scenery juxtaposed with the energy and force of the water is something everyone needs to experience at least once in their lives. 

So if you are visiting Colorado during the summer months, it’s something I highly recommend you try, even if it’s a beginner’s river rafting to ‘test the waters’. 

Have a great boat trip!

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about me

Hi, I’m Tyla. I have been working toward gaining freedom from the constraints of the everyday grind since the very start of my career. Working remotely in digital marketing allowed me the freedom to start my own passion projects that center around the adventures I enjoy most.

Having lived near the ocean my entire life, I have an affinity toward spending time on the water, and I want to share that passion with all of you. I hope you enjoy reading about my boat trips as much as I enjoyed taking them!


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