With rafting starting this weekend, we are stoked for another epic season of adventure! Our outposts in Buena Vista and Idaho Springs open for rafting and all adventures May 10 and offer rafting on the Arkansas River and Clear Creek, respectively. Join us for rafting and other adventures on the Upper Colorado River from our Kremmling outpost beginning the week after, May 17.

The Blue River will also open later in the season, so keep an eye out for our Blue River Express trip, a milder, yet exciting 1/3 day adventure. Because this river requires the perfect conditions to make it runnable, it opened for the first time in several years in 2023. 

River rafters on the river.

Colorado Snowpack 

Due to another excellent season of snow, Colorado’s snowpack is looking strong this year. Snowpack is a measurement of the snow that has accumulated in Colorado’s mountains during the winter months and that melts to fill Colorado’s rivers and basins. As of April 8th, Colorado’s snowpack was at 114% of average thanks to several late-season storms in March. Snowpack levels are a good indicator of river levels and rafting conditions, meaning we can expect fun and splashy river conditions this year. Learn more about how Colorado snowpack impacts summer rafting! 

River Conditions and Flow

River flow and rates are measured in CFS, or cubic feet per second. This is a measure of river flow and strength. The formula to determine CFS involves multiplying the width of the river by its depth and the speed (determined by flow and gradient). CFS readings are collected at various sections along each river, with different sections potentially yielding different CFS values. Given the unique characteristics of each river, what constitutes a high CFS in one river may be entirely typical in another.  

Visit our current river conditions page to stay up to date on Colorado rivers throughout the season.  

Rafters with oars up along the river.

Arkansas River 

As of April, the Arkansas River basin held the highest amount of snowpack in the state, with levels at 119% of average. With the Arkansas River already offering some of the best whitewater in Colorado, if not the country, this elevated level will make this river even more fun to rush down this year.  

Learn 5 fun facts about the Arkansas River and birds to keep an eye out for on the Arkansas River.  

Brown’s Canyon Trips: 

The Browns Canyon section of the Arkansas River is currently at a runnable and splashy 806 CFS. According to American Whitewater, this section may be the best class III section in Colorado. It passes through Browns Canyon National Monument and includes several notable rapids including Canyon Doors and Zoom Flume.   

arkansas river rafting

Brown’s Canyon ½ Day: A moderate yet exciting half day trip through class III whitewater. You’ll pass through Browns Canyon National Monument and its startling granite scenery, as you experience the best of the Arkansas River. 

Brown’s Canyon Express: This exciting rafting adventure is our only 3/4 day trip, taking you through a longer stretch than the Browns Canyon half day. Enjoy splashy whitewater that will keep you invigorated throughout the day, yet be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. 

Brown’s Canyon Sizzler: This full day experience is best for anyone who wants to explore as much as possible of the Arkansas River. Navigate 17 miles of class III whitewater and enjoy a deli style lunch riverside as you marvel at the 14,000 ft. Collegiate Peaks mountain range.

24 Hours in Browns: Experience the ultimate Colorado adventure on this overnight trip. Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, you will raft the Arkansas River over two days, sleep under the stars, and enjoy delicious camp food cooked by your guides. 

Pine Creek Trips: 

The Arkansas’s Pine Creek and the Numbers section also sits at a fun, runnable 675 CFS. This is a more challenging class IV-V section of the Arkansas River and hosts steep rapids and big drops. Although beginners are welcome on this section, anyone who attempts Arkansas’s Pine Creek should be physically fit enough to navigate the demanding rapids.  

The Numbers ½ day: With 8 class III-V rapids, the Numbers half-day trip will get your heart racing. The Numbers section of the Arkansas River passes through stunning rock formations set against vibrant blue water and bankside scenery. 

The Gauntlet-Pine Creek and Numbers: This full-day adventure is one of our most intense trips, traveling through the Pine Creek section and the Numbers section. Pine Creek boasts the steepest and most intense whitewater on the Arkansas River with class III – V rapids providing a full day challenge. 

Rappel into the Gauntlet: The Rappel in the Gauntlet is our full day Gauntlet trip with added adventure: a rappel into your waiting raft. Start the day with the utmost excitement as you cruise down the cliff face, ready to launch into Colorado’s best whitewater.  

Clear Creek 

The Lawson to Idaho Springs portion of Clear Creek is currently running at a lower 71 CFS range, but this bodes well for the season, as the flow will pick up in May. This portion of the Clear creek contains exiting class III-V whitewater just a half hour from Denver. Notable rapids include Meat and Bones, The Zambezi Wave, and Nomad. 

Discover the best places for rafting near Denver and why Idaho Springs is a perfect rafting location.  

clear creek rafting

Clear Creek Trips 

Gold Rush: This 1/3 day trip is a great introduction to milder whitewater for all ages 6 and older. Paddle 7 miles on the river through class III rapids through this splashy section and pass my Idaho Springs’s historic Argo Mine.  

Upper Clear Creek: On this half-day trip on the Upper Clear Creek, you’ll experience a more challenging section of Clear Creek as you navigate 8 miles and several class IV rapids.  

Lower Canyon: Lower Canyon is a high intensity trip and a great opportunity to explore more challenging whitewater closer to Denver in a half day experience. You’ll plunge through several class V rapids, including Guide Ejector, Double Knife, and Terminator, with water dropping 150 feet per mile. 

Phoenix: On our Phoenix trip, race down 20 miles through class IV and V rapids, covering the most advanced section of the Clear Creek. This trip takes you through a full day of whitewater with a break for a barbecue lunch in Idaho Springs. 

The Colorado River 

The Upper Colorado River near Kremmling, Colorado is currently running at a normal flow of 1,500 CFS. The Upper Colorado has one of the longest rafting seasons from May to October and is an ideal area for float trips, paddleboarding, kayaking, and fly-fishing.  

Read 5 Colorado River facts and Colorado’s best areas for float trips. 

Scenic Float trips: We offer our ½ day and full day scenic float trips. Both adventures are the perfect way to explore the Upper Colorado River and its beautiful scenery. You may see bighorn sheep, bald eagles, and several species of fish in the water. This trip also offers the opportunity to sunbathe, relax on the water, and swim, as you leisurely paddle this stretch of mild class II whitewater.  

½ day Scenic Float

Full day Scenic Float 

24 Hours on the Upper Colorado: We also host a unique overnight trip on the Upper Colorado River. This 24 Hours on the Upper Colorado is a longer version of our scenic float trip that allows your group to relax amidst nature, sleep under the stars, and experience Colorado in a camp setting, with your guides there to help set up camp, cook, and teach you about the area’s great outdoors. 

AVA Guide cooking over a campfire.

In addition to our scenic float trips, we also host opportunities to explore the Upper Colorado River with a stand-up paddleboard or inflatable kayak. These can be combined with a scenic float trip if members of your group wish to try out a different adventure! Or hone your fishing skills and explore new fishing areas on one of our guided fly-fishing trips 

Browse all rafting and adventure trips, and book your group, family, or solo Colorado adventure today. With the rivers running strong, we can’t wait for you to join us. Be sure to check our deals and discounts page to stay up to date on any adventure savings.

Written by Rosa Canales, AVA Rafting’s Copywriting Specialist.