Celebrating 25 Years


Adventure Awaits: Past, Present, and Future.

AVA Rafting & Zipline has brought the highest level of outdoor adventure experiences to Colorado since 1998. As we head into our 25th season, we look both forward and backward, remaining as excited for our guests to experience the thrill of a Colorado outdoor adventure as we were in our very first year on the water. We reflect with pride on our history and how far we have come, yet direct our vision to the future, excited to continue to improve outdoor experiences through new innovations, enthrall guests with outstanding service, and foster appreciation for Colorado’s outdoor spaces.

Our excellence across our Rafting, Ziplining, Via Ferrata, and other adventure opportunities has allowed us to grow and constantly challenge industry standards. AVA’s continued focus on the guest experience through professional, low-impact outdoor recreation trips has garnered us recognition by our guests, as well as earned us Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and Traveler’s Choice, Best Whitewater Guide in Elevation, and Outdoor’s Best of the Rockies awards. Celebrate our 25 years of Adventure Awaits, and join us on the water or in the air!

What the AVA Difference looks like

AVA Founder, Duke Bradford, found his first investor in four minutes

Man on a zipline course in Colorado.

Duke worked as a ski patroller at Keystone Resort in 1997, where he met Keith Chapeau on a lift ride up, successfully pitching his business plan in the amount of time it took to reach the top. His first investor was impressed by Duke’s idea of a guest-oriented rafting company and inspired by the business plan he wrote with only the advice of a library “how-to” book. Duke envisioned a rafting company that pushed the boundaries of just rafting. He had worked as a raft guide in West Virginia and was impressed by the level of guest service offered, with opportunities for dining and overnight stays. With this inspiration and his first investors, AVA was born out of an old camping area north of Buena Vista in the spring of 1998. AVA included only four boats, five staff, and this small facility, but the hard work of the team and its unique location allowed AVA to raft all sections of the Arkansas River, as well as offer meals and lodging.

Duke and the team took advantage of the winter and off-season to raft the Gauley River in West Virginia, as well as parts of Mexico to research and develop improvements for the company. This venture proved successful, leading AVA to extend rafting opportunities into the Gore Canyon area of the Colorado River the following summer. AVA then bought Keystone Rafting in 200, proving to be one of Colorado’s most significant whitewater rafting companies, as we continued to lead trips despite the year’s drought. Duke attributes success during this tough time period to AVA’s guides and their positive impact on the guest experience; we persevered through tough water conditions, while many other rafting companies were forced to close. Through perseverance, hard work, and a little luck, AVA continued to grow, and the young company doubled in size each year for the first five years.

2005 saw AVA’s expansion to the Clear Creek and our Idaho Springs outpost. We again doubled the number of guests in only our second year of operation here, and in 2008, AVA began to lead trips on the Upper Colorado River from Kremmling. Duke and AVA soon recognized the demand for, and importance of, additional outdoor adventure opportunities in Colorado, and expanded AVA to include a 7 line Granite zipline course near our Buena Vista outpost. This 2011 endeavor exploded, proving AVA’s competitiveness across outdoor recreation outfitters, and allowed us to add our 6-line Idaho Springs course in 2012. 2011 additionally distinguished itself as an important year, as we expanded into the transportation sector with the implementation of our shuttle services and transportation company, Peak 1 Express. Peak 1 Express increased transportation opportunities within the mountains, and thus access to Colorado’s great outdoors and outdoor recreation opportunities.

In 2016, AVA expanded our Upper Colorado River services to include Fishing trips and UTV and equipment rentals and opened an outpost in the Kremmling area to better service rafting on the Colorado River. 2017 and 2018 additionally saw increased recreation opportunities, as we built exciting Via Ferrata courses at our Idaho Springs and Buena Vista outposts. Duke and all of us at AVA are proud of all that we have accomplished since 1998 and look forward to developing new and thrilling outdoor adventure opportunities for our guests. We seek to embrace the possibilities within the outdoor recreation field, while remaining true to our roots in guest service and low-impact recreation.

Even as AVA continues to grow and expand, Duke remains committed to sustainability efforts regarding natural resources, river access and water quality, fighting to protect the rivers that have and will continue to provide us opportunities for adventure, connection, and excitement.

Rafters on the Arkansas River.


AVA prioritizes the guest experience, with our ultimate goal being to provide positive adventure experiences that result in lifelong memories. We hold ourselves to the highest standards across adventure trips, continuously seeking to improve our adventure offerings with your experience in mind. That being said, our guides define your adventure experience, and they define who we are. We value guest safety above all else, requiring our guides to undergo extensive training, and hiring guides who share our vision of the guest experience, and who, in turn, inspire us with their passion, knowledge, and positivity.


This reciprocity of learning underscores our beliefs in teamwork and respect, as we turn to others and our natural landscape to lead and inspire, sharing a vision of the natural environment as a catalyst for growth and connection. We educate ourselves and our guests on Colorado’s wilderness and the importance of sustainability initiatives across adventure opportunities. Going forward, we seek to challenge ourselves and the industry, as we implement innovative adventures that appeal to our guests and remain cohesive with our commitment to low-impact recreation.

Via Ferrata and an 80' drop.


Since AVA Rafting & Zipline’s origin in 1998, we have sought to implement and contribute to initiatives targeted at improving the ecosystems of our rivers, land, and local Colorado communities. We have participated in local appreciation days in Idaho Springs and Kremmling, showing support for the communities that make our adventure trips possible. We support and remain actively involved in sponsorships for relevant organizations, including Summit Youth sports, CAIC avalanche awareness and resource development, and local charitable organizations.


We additionally run our adventure opportunities with an emphasis on low-impact recreation, partnering with Leave No Trace to reduce our environmental impact. On our trips, we emphasize guest education on sustainable practices and the necessity of respect for our outdoor environment and ecosystems in relation to outdoor adventure and tourism. We additionally recycle at all outposts, avoid use of disposable paper and plastics, and continually push closer to becoming a paperless operation.

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Don't just take our word for it

Bill A.2023-07-04

Decided in this spot for some fun on a summer vacation in Brekenridge.

The drive from Breck was about 90 min. For meal plans after plan for about 30 in... Read More »

Becky D.2023-07-08

Rafting on Browns Canyon (class II/III rapids) was a highlight of our vacation in Colorado. We took a 9 yr old kiddo and the level of difficulty and length... Read More »

Catch A W.2023-07-27

Great experience with enthusiastic employees. Zip line was in the trees and not off the highway. We felt very safe! Our guides Paris and Ernie where... Read More »

Abraham Moralez2023-08-12

I can go on and on about how GREAT this experience was.. I was supposed to go on a different rafting and zip lining experience somewhere else in Colorado but was unable to make it.. I was near by for vacation and I knew I had to go back to do it. I searched for “Denver Rafting” and found AVA with very good reviews and had to look into it! I originally wanted to do the “Gauntlet” as my first rafting experience but instead changed my mind and got the “mountain zip lining and 1/2 day numbers” experience. From the moment I arrived to the moment I left I had smiles, content in my heart and pictures to last a LIFETIME! Jess and Robert were such amazing guides for the zip lining trip and helped everyone especially me since it was my first time to get us in the mindset that no matter what we were safe! Even had the opportunity to race Robert on the fastest line and well experience always wins…throughout the whole experience they were very informative and just very fun to be around!! By far the Rafting was the best part.. Chris was just so helped for everyone on the raft the whole time, no matter if we had people fall out of the raft or even had to rescue a “swimmer” he was ALWAYS Calm, Cool and Collected! After having this experience, I will definitely tell everyone I know that they NEED to have this as well. With all the help throughout the whole process there will be no way that don’t have a GREAT time.

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Jason Scott2022-07-27

We had an absolute blast as always! Shawn and the other AVA guides were amazing. We rode with Shawn and he made the whole trip memorable for our family! He was very knowledgeable and had a ton of facts about the river and all the wildlife in the area. The Browns Canyon is a perfect family trip with enough adventure for all ages. We'll definitely be back!
Thanks for everything Shawn and AVA!!!

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My family had a great trip with AVA! We did mountainside zip lining course near Granite, CO. Our guides Tripp and Jess were amazing! Safety first, but fun was a close second. The lines are through the trees with beautiful views of the Arkansas River and Collegiate Peaks. 6 lines took us over 2 hours to complete. There is a bit of a climb to the first line, but after that it’s easy going!

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