Top Whitewater Rafting Spots in Colorado



Try Whitewater Rafting in Colorado’s Beautiful Rivers

If the summertime heat is beginning to feel a bit oppressive, it just might be time to head out on the river. Whitewater rafting is a fun summer activity that can be an excellent outing for the entire family, or more challenging for those without kids. With so many rivers to choose from, the most difficult part will be deciding where to go!

Here are some of the best places for a whitewater rafting trip in Colorado. Keep in mind that every river listed will have a plentiful supply of local guides and outfitters to get you onto, and off of, the river safely. Call ahead for reservations during peak seasons, though, and to compare prices.

Rafting the Cache la Poudre River

If you’re close to Fort Collins, going whitewater rafting on the Cache la Poudre River is something you should add to your bucket list. You can find calm rapids that are great for kids, and more difficult rapids that will have your heart racing. The location and availability of water for so many different levels makes this one fantastic rafting river. This river is also extra special—it’s Colorado’s only designated National Wild and Scenic River. Whether you’re barrelling, or calmly floating, down this river and through its stunning canyons, you’ll see why it has this special recognition.

Rafting on Clear Creek

If you’re looking to stick around the Denver area, Clear Creek’s convenience is hard to beat. Trips typically depart in Idaho Springs, right off of I-70. Clear Creek is a steep and narrow river so it probably isn’t best for beginners or nervous rafters. However, the whitewater is undoubtedly exciting, and there are many technical portions to navigate. If you’re looking for a challenge, give it a go. Float trips are also offered if you’d like to keep things squarely on the calmer side.

Whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River

If you’re up for a bit of drive away from the city, head over to the Arkansas River. This river runs through gorgeous canyonlands and is one of the country’s most popular rivers for rafting trips. It drops an impressive 5,000 feet within 125 miles! Buena Vista, Salida, and Cañon City are popular departure points. For adventure seekers, The Numbers is a part of the river that shouldn’t be missed. Again, local guides can direct you toward rapids of every level, and guided trips range from half-day excursions to full-day affairs.

Raft near Aspen on the Roaring Fork

There’s no doubt about it—Aspen is downright beautiful, and part of that beauty is thanks to the Roaring Fork River. The town is home to departure points for rafting trips on the Roaring Fork, and there’s something for every experience level. The upper section of the river is called the “Slaughterhouse,” and the name says it all. The rapids here are difficult, and you can even raft down one of Colorado’s only commercially rafted waterfalls. For a more mellow time you’ll want to visit the river’s lower section, where families can enjoy calm floating trips.

The Rio Grande River is perfect for families

Head over to Creede, and get in some family-friendly paddling along the Rio Grande River. You’ll weave through the San Juan Mountains and all of their stunning scenery, and most of the rapids are relatively calm. Class II and class III rapids are the norm out here, so you won’t have to worry as much about falling off of the raft or paddling furiously. If you’re looking for calm, cool, and collected, but not precisely sedate floating, this is your river.

This list is just the beginning, though! To learn even more about Colorado’s whitewater rafting options have a look at this list from No matter where you are in the state, or what you’re looking for from a whitewater rafting trip, there’s bound to be something that suits your experience level and needs.