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On The River

Epic Colorado Snowpack Melts Into Rafting Bonanza

Late season snow, cooler temperatures, slow runoff and higher water levels have resulted in an epic year for river rafting in Colorado. The Colorado River Outfitters Association notes that this year’s season – which usually has dried up by now – will extend into at least early fall.

“Rafting outside of Glenwood Springs, Winter Park/Steamboat and Grand Junction will continue into the fall; most likely lasting until October,” notes the organization. “The Animas in Durango should flow through September and the Poudre should have rafting to early September. In some sections, the Arkansas River will flow through September and Clear Creek will be raftable at fun flows to the middle or late August.” 

For more info about conditions on specific rivers throughout the state, check out the association’s website at

The swollen rivers and whitewater conditions have also proven to be deadly this year. As of press time 19 people have died or disappeared while rafting and tubing this year in Colorado. Inexperienced, as well as experienced, river rats are urged to take precautions. The association offers the following tips:

• Raft close to where you are vacationing. If you have a vacation planned, check with an outfitter nearby to see if they have availability. This is a great starting point to get you out on the water.

• Choose a trip that is appropriate for you. Most outfitters offer a variety of trips, from family friendly options to more extreme adventures, which can be selected based on experience level, fitness and desires for the trip.

• Bring the kids. Colorado outfitters offer many trips appropriate for kids. Be sure to verify any age and weight restrictions in place for the given conditions on the trips you’re considering.

• Listen to the guide. Good rafting guides are trained and experienced, as well as knowledgeable about local history, culture, geology and wildlife.

• Know what to bring and wear. The outfitter will give you a list of standard gear to bring. For example, an outfitter will have life jackets (PFDs), splash jackets, wetsuits and paddles. Suggested items to bring may include quick drying shorts or swimsuits, river sandals or old tennis shoes, sunscreen, lip balm, change of clothes, etc.

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