The most important part of your Colorado adventure is to be prepared prior to the date of your activity. Knowing what to bring, where the location of your take off point is, the best time to go rafting, and what the perfect trip and rafting company is for your group is essential. Here are some answers to common questions we get asked on a daily basis, so you know exactly what to expect adventuring with AVA Rafting & Zipline.
For COVID-19 specific questions relating to the 2020 whitewater rafting season, learn more here.
AVA Rafting & Zipline started its love affair with the great outdoors in 1998 as a rafting company. While rafting remains our bread and butter, we have expanded our adventure options to better provide the true Colorado experience. Throughout the existence of AVA, it has been our goal to advance the industry of whitewater rafting and of adventure outfitters. From our guides and staff to outposts, equipment, trip offerings and level of service, we strive to set the bar at every turn.
All of our guides' training hours far surpass state regulations. Beside the state requirement of being First Aid and CPR certified, almost all of our guides are Swiftwater Rescue certified and very many of them are EMTs, Wilderness First Responders, or hold Outdoor Emergency Care certification. The State of Colorado requires only 50 hours of training to be a river guide, however our new guide training gives our trainees almost three times this minimum requirement.
Check out what raft guide training looks like with AVA here.
AVA has locations across the state of Colorado. Our primary outposts are located in Idaho Springs, Kremmling, Buena Vista and Breckenridge. We also raft out of the Fort Collins, Glenwood Springs, Canon City and Durango in Colorado and Globe, Arizona.
For more information on getting to your adventure with us, please visit our Getting Here page.
AVA has established itself as a leader in the rafting and adventure outfitter business. Our goal is always to set the bar for our industry: from guides and training to guest service, outposts and gear. We know, we might be tooting out own horn a bit. But otherwise how will you know? Between our numerous, convenient locations across the state, our dedication to your experience and our highly-trained guides, you won't be disappointed when you choose AVA.
AVA Rafting and Zipline now offers the best cancellation policy in Colorado! We offer a 90% refund to any guest who needs to cancel their adventure until 7pm the night before the trip date. Trip changes must be completed by 7pm the night before the trip to avoid change fees. Trip changes after 7pm will result in a 15% change fee and are subject to availability. If you do cancel your reservation after 7pm the night before the trip, your reservation will be converted to an open credit equal to 85% of the total cost of your adventure. The credit is valid for the current season only. This policy is valid for both guided trip and rental gear reservations.
If you arrive late for your trip, you will be put on the next available trip. If you are not able to take our next available trip, your reservation will be converted to an open credit equal to 85% of the total cost of your adventure. The credit is valid for the current season only.
If you opted out of our cancellation guarantee for a reduced total trip cost, then you are subject to the cancellation policy below.
Without Cancellation Guarantee (opt out policy):
For groups of less than 10 people: Cancellations made prior to 7 days before the trip will be refunded 90% of the total trip cost. Cancellations made within 7 days of the trip are nonrefundable. Trips changed within 7 days of the trip will result in a 15% change fee.
Failure to show up on time for your trip will result in forfeiture of your reservation without a refund.
For groups of 10 or more:
Cancellations made 14 days prior to the trip will be refunded 90% of the total trip cost. Cancellations made within 2 weeks of the trip are nonrefundable.
NOTE: Cancellation policy applies to the full amount of your trip.
Inside of two weeks of the trip, changes made to the date of the trip will result in a change fee. Change fees are 15% of the total cost of the trip. Changes may not be made inside of 48 hours.
Inclement weather and water conditions:
All trips depart as scheduled regardless of weather. AVA reserves the right to change or substitute river sections at any time due to weather conditions and water levels.
AVA's zipline management reserves the right to cancel tours due to unsafe weather conditions, such as heavy winds and lightning. If your tour has been cancelled by management, AVA will contact you to refund or reschedule your reservation. AVA reserves the right to postpone or delay your mountaintop zip line tour up to one hour to wait out inclement weather and then resume once conditions are deemed safe by management. If the mountaintop zip line tour is started and less than 50% of the course is completed, you will be refunded 50% of the cost of the trip. If the mountaintop zip line tour is started and more than 50% of the course is completed, you will not be refunded.
AVA reserves the right to cancel any trip due to an insufficient number of bookings. Should we need to cancel your trip, the full cost will be refunded or credited to another trip according to your wishes.
Partner trips and activities are subject to a different cancellation policy than is listed here. Please thoroughly read the cancellation policy before booking, or give us a call at 970-423-7031 for the cancellation policy for your trip.
You will meet at our outpost and then we will handle all transportation from there. Please arrive at our outpost 15 minutes before your scheduled trip time.
Lunch is provided on some of our trips, but not all of them. Our full day and overnight trips include meals, while our half day trips typically do not provide lunch. Check your specific trip details to know if you will get lunch.
We will accommodate most dietary restrictions and we will let you know if there is an accommodation that we are not able to meet ahead of time.
Yes, a gift certificate is a great option if you aren't sure exactly what trip you want to go on or if you are looking for the perfect gift for birthdays, holidays, employee appreciation and more. Learn more here.
In short, yes! Rafters on all AVA trips are required to wear a PFD, and for most AVA white water rafting trips, you do not need to know how to swim. The more intense, advanced rafting trips will require rafters to know how to swim as just a precaution. However, the more intermediate trips do not require rafters to know how to swim. Read more here.
If you’re planning a vacation to Colorado you likely have a limited time window from which to choose – and that’s just fine. Depending on the type of challenge, length of time you want to be on the river, and the location you’ll be visiting, we have multiple options for beginner to advanced paddlers.
The Best Time To Enjoy River Trips at AVA:
Arkansas River: May - Sept
Clear Creek: May - Sept
Colorado River: May - Sept
Blue River: June
Dolores River: May - June
Salt River: Late February - mid-May
Not at all! While some trips are more physically demanding than others and require a moderate to high physical fitness level, they do not necessarily require any previous whitewater rafting experience. Just because you are planning your first rafting trip does not mean you need to start out on beginner level rapids.
It depends. Your guides will evaluate all the groups participating in the trip and assign out the rafts from there. All of our rafts can fit at least 6 people, but the number of people that will be in your raft all depends on the numbers. If you are part of a large group, you may be spread across a few rafts with people from other groups.
AVA Rafting & Zipline provides wetsuits and splash jackets free of charge, unlike the majority of other rafting outfitters. For your whitewater adventure, you'll need to wear shoes that stay securely on your feet and we suggest quick dry clothing... no cotton!
When it comes to tipping a guide, generally customers tend to follow the service industry standards. However, it is up to your discretion what you would like to tip your guide. Read more on tipping here.
We allow children on our rafting trips. We offer trips that are great for children 2+, 5+, 6+, and 7+ depending on the class and water level. Read more about our kid friendly trips here.
No previous experience is required for white water rafting. All that we ask is that you are willing to listen to your guide, so they can ensure the best route down the river for your group.
Transportation is provided to and river the river. You will meet us at our outpost where you will meet your guide, get your gear and then head to the river. After the rafting trip you will be taken back to the outpost. Learn more here.
White water rafting is safe, but there are inherent risks on every trip. Your risk on a rafting trip goes up as you get into higher class rapids such as class V. Learn more here.
The age requirements for rafting differ depending on the River and the water levels. Typically, you need to be 2+ to raft on the Colorado River, 6+ to raft on Clear Creek and the Blue River and 7+ to raft on the Arkansas River. All age requirements are subject to change depending on water levels.
Rapids are classified between class I and V. Class I is moving water with very few small waves. Class II is easy rapids with very small waves. Class III is rapids with irregular and higher waves. Class IV is long difficult rapids that are hard to maneuver. Class V are extremely large and difficult rapids without breaks between the waves.
We typically require participants to be a certain age, but do not require a certain weight or height. We have personal flotation devices that fit all sizes.
We run rafting trips morning afternoon and evening typically between May and October. Anytime of day before it gets dark is a great time to go rafting.
Rafting season typically starts mid April and runs through mid October. Each year rafting season can fluctuate based on water levels which are determined by the amount of snow and the weather patterns. Early season and late season are typically going to have lower water levels and be easier to manage while mid season (typically June) has high water levels and can see an increase in age requirements.
The best time for rafting depends on what type of trip you are looking for. Very exciting trips with high water typically take place in June. July is a great time to go if you are looking for warmer weather. August is known for having lower water so it can be a little more calm. September is a great time for scenic trips.
We do require all participants to sign a waiver before their rafting trip to ensure everyone is aware of any inherent risks that are involved in whitewater rafting. Learn more here.
The water in the rivers across Colorado is very cold. Typically, this water is melted snow that is coming down the mountains and filling out rivers. The water can get warmer throughout the season, but it is always best to be prepared with a wetsuit which we do provide. Learn more here.
There is always a chance that you could fall out of the raft during your trip, however, if you listen to your guide it is much more unlikely that you will fall out of your boat. Learn more here.
Water level is measured in the number of cubic feet that pass any point on the river every given second (CFS). The higher the CFS number the quicker the water is moving and the higher the river will flow. The CFS that indicates high water is not universal for all rivers because it depends on the width of the river. THe CFS for Clear Creek will always be lower than the Colorado River, but that does not mean the flows aren't high. Learn more here.
We do go rafting in the rain. You are most likely going to get wet one way or another. Rafting trips can operate in the rain and in thunderstorms because you are in the lowest part of the terrain in a rubber boat.
It's important to be aware of the risks involved in every outdoor adventure, and ziplining is not without its risks. Ziplining is an extreme sport and, as such, has particular risks that will always be associated with it. With that being said, your guide has undergone extensive training to ensure your safety. In addition to highly-trained guides, AVA also only uses top-of-the-line equipment.
You can zipline with AVA from March through November each year! The Cliffside Zipline in Idaho Springs near Denver will open the first weekend of March and stay open on a limited schedule through the end of November. The Mountaintop Zipline in Buena Vista will open between the end of April and early May and stay open through Labor Day. During the summer there are zipline trips hourly starting at 8:00am at both locations.
To go on a zipline trip with AVA, all zippers must be at least 6 years old. Everyone must also be between 50 pounds and 250 pounds. Zippers must be wearing appropriate clothing and sturdy, closed-toe shoes. All zippers will be outfitted with a helmet, gloves and a harness. Guests are required to do a moderate amount of hand braking on the adventure.
For your zipline trip, make you are dressed comfortably and appropriately for the weather. Zippers will not be allowed on the course without closed-toe, sturdy shoes, such as hiking boots or tennis shoes. Regardless of the time of year, avoid wearing baggy clothing that could get tangled as you zip from platform to platform. We suggest long pants, capris or knee-length shorts for maximum comfort during your trip.
For the warmer months, May to September, you will want to bring: a brimmed hat, long sleeves (not cotton), shades, shorts or swim trunks, light rain coat and river shoes. Waders are provided upon request.
For the colder months, October to April, you will want to bring: warm clothing, leggings or base-layers, thick cotton socks, and gloves. Waders will be provided.