Celebrating 25 Years of AVA Rafting & Zipline Adventures
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Celebrating 25 Years

Defining Adventure in Colorado since 1998


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!

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

AVA Founder, Duke Bradford

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.

AVA Rafting History Timeline

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.

Vintage AVA Outpost sign
4th of July rafting trip with AVA

Our rivers and our roots: AVA Values and Mission

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.

Vintage AVA Outpost sign
4th of July rafting trip with AVA

Sustainability and Community Engagement

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.

Be Apart of the Next 25 Years


  • LOCATION: Idaho Springs, CO VIEW MAP
    ACTIVITIES: Whitewater Rafting, Via Ferrata
    DURATION: Full Day
    DIFFICULTY: Level 5 (Wild ride!  Physical exertion required)
    MINIMUM AGE: 12 years old
    PRICE: from $179


  • LOCATION: Buena Vista, CO VIEW MAP
    ACTIVITIES: Whitewater Rafting, Ziplining
    DURATION: Full Day
    DIFFICULTY: Level 4 (Exciting! Physical exertion required)
    MINIMUM AGE: 7 years old
    PRICE: $194


  • LOCATION: Idaho Springs, CO VIEW MAP
    ACTIVITIES: Whitewater Rafting, Via Ferrata
    DURATION: Full Day
    DIFFICULTY: Level 5 (Wild ride!  Physical exertion required)
    MINIMUM AGE: 15 years old
    PRICE: from $189

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