This year, FIBArk celebrated 75 years of the famous whitewater  festival, which took place June 15-18. FIBArk began in June 1949 when 23 brave souls in six boats headed out onto the Arkansas River to face the 57 miles of mighty whitewater rapids through the Royal Gorge and down to Canon City.  Only two participants passed the finish line that year on one of the most difficult paddling events, spanning 26 miles through class III through IV rapids.

Man whitewater kayaking

FIBArk or “First In Boating the Arkansas” has been around ever since and phrases like “Whitewater hell” and “The meanest stretch of whitewater in the world” are used to describe this incredible event.  Held in Salida, CO this year’s FIBArk featured a crazy river dog contest, mountain bike racing, trail running, stand up paddle boarding boxing, free live music, and more!

dog in river with stick

Spanning Wednesday through Sunday, the festival included a downriver race, a freestyle race, and road and bike races. Friday saw various SUP events, including surfing, boxing, and a dual slalom. Saturday kicked off with a pancake breakfast and hosted road and kids’ running races, with Sunday bringing a trail running race and the crazy river dog event.

rafting group through whitewater rapids

Music kicked off on Thursday, with bands jamming all day long, so you could take a break between either competing or cheering on competitors to show everyone your dance moves.

woman dancing at festival
The festival is organized and presented by a group of dedicated volunteers who want to share their love for the river with the community.  Sponsors like Stoke Mountain Style Barbecue, a local barbecue restaurant, Salida Brewing Company, and Colorado Parks & Wildlife help make this phenomenal celebration of our rivers and its whitewater opportunities possible.

Brown's Canyon rafting

To get in on the action, or practice for next year, check out one of our guided rafting trips available along the Arkansas River, as well as other favorite Colorado Rivers. With options for the novice whitewater rafter to the experienced, adrenaline-fueled whitewater enthusiast, we’ll help you get ready to compete, or just have a blast, at next year’s FIBArk!