Best Places to Raft Along the Arkansas River

Best Places to Raft Along the Arkansas River

Considered the best whitewater rafting in Colorado, the Arkansas River offers several great locations for whitewater rafting. Within the first 125 miles of this river, there’s a drop of over 5,000 feet which makes for some great rafting. Some of the most popular sections include the Royal Gorge, Bighorn Sheep Canyon, and the Numbers. The easiest way to enjoy whitewater rafting here is to choose either a tour, half-day or full-day. If you’re feeling ambitious, some companies even offer overnight rafting experiences at specific skill levels, such as beginner, intermediate and advanced. If you’re heading to Colorado and looking for the best places for rafting, you’ll want to check out some of these spots:

1. The Numbers
Of all the sections on the Arkansas River, the Numbers is the most continuous section of the river, meaning you’ll enjoy non-stop fun. Here you’ll find a lot of adventure, from narrow channels through to drops that will leave your stomach at the top, it’s an enjoyable part of whitewater rafting. In the distance, you’ll enjoy the views of the Collegiate Peaks – the white-capped mountains – ensuring a scenic trip down the river. There’s also a lot of wildlife in this area, so you’ll be able to spot some along the way. This is quite a challenging area of the river, so it can be wise to book in with a tour company such as Echo Canyon Rafting Expeditions.

2. Royal Gorge
This section is extremely scenic, ensuring breathtaking views along your whitewater rafting trip. Here you’ll see steep canyon walls while being challenged by the strong, and challenging rapids. You’ll also be able to see the Royal Gorge suspension bridge more than 1,000 feet above the river. This section is best left to experienced rafters or those of us who are extremely fit, as it’s a very challenging section.

3. Browns Canyon
There’s a chance that this may be the most popular whitewater rafting section in all of the USA. It offers a lot to experienced whitewater rafters while being accomodating enough to first-timers, too, making it a great all-over area to ride on. What’s special about this part of the river is that there are rapid currents broken up by smaller pools that allow time to recover before heading to the next rapid. These small breaks are what allow it to be a good fit for even the least experienced whitewater rafters.

4. Bighorn Sheep Canyon

This is more of a medium-level whitewater rafting experience and can be a good fit for first-timers too. Here you’ll get striking views of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range while enjoying the thrill that is whitewater rafting. If you’re nervous about whitewater rafting, going on a trip as a family, or not sure of your skill level, this can be a great place to start. The waters in this section are so clear, you’ll be able to see the rocks below you as you paddle.

Arkansas River offers excellent opportunities for whitewater rafting and these four options are some of the most popular. Hopefully, this guide will help you plan your next trip there.