The Colorado Rockies are a great destination location for Whitewater Rafting for people visiting from all over the world. There are rivers all over the state that have their own unique twist on a Colorado Rafting experience. Though the front range has a lot to offer for hotels, food, and other city conveniences, you should travel into the mountains in order to get on the best whitewater rafting trip. Lets go through a few options close to the front range, talk about their perks, and make sure that you pick the best whitewater rafting trip for you and your group!
Here is our list of the best places for whitewater rafting near Denver:
1.) Clear Creek – Idaho Springs, CO
Clear Creek is an icon of whitewater rafting in Colorado and where most people will raft when staying in Denver, CO. What makes this river so incredible is its diversity of difficulty levels, rich history, and accessibility.
Distance from Denver: Only about 30 minutes west of Denver, Clear Creek is a great option because of its proximity and flowing river that offers all levels of whitewater.
The Gold Rush: The mildest section of Clear Creek to run is between Chicago Creek and Kermit’s. Though a milder and shorter section this whitewater ride takes you through some of the most historic sections of Idaho Springs. Chicago creek is said to have held the first gold nugget found in the gold rush of Idaho Springs. This trip also takes you past the Argo gold mine – once the most profitable mine in the world. Finally, the take out at Kermit’s is near the dive bar, Kermit’s, which has one of the oldest pork green chili recipes in Colorado.
- Kids: This is a great section to raft if you are going to have kids in your group. You need to be 6 years old or older to raft this section of the river.
Upper Clear Creek: If you are looking for a more intense whitewater experience, don’t worry, Clear Creek holds this as well. Travel a bit farther up river and run Upper Dumont to Satellite for a more thrilling class IV experience.
- Thrill Seekers: This is a great section for those looking for a thrilling experience. You need to be 15 years old or older to raft this section.
The Lower Canyon: Not enough for you? Take on the treacherous lower canyon. This will put in at Kermits and take out just above Miles Gulch Park. This will involve intense class V whitewater.
- Experienced Rafters: This is a great section for experienced rafters. You need to be 15 years old or older to raft this section of the river.
Clear Creek Canyon is our top place for whitewater rafting near Denver hands down.
Clear Creek is nestled in a Rocky Mountain valley, so you will have beautiful mountains surrounding you. Also, this trip is incredible convenient as it is right off the high way, but during most of the trip you cannot even tell you are off the highway. Once you’re done rafting, you are in the heart of a historic mining town with awesome shops, restaurants, and breweries.
2.) Cache la Poudre River – Fort Collins, CO
The Poudre river is a great destination location for people staying near Denver, CO. Fort Collins is just an hour and fifteen-minute drive from downtown Denver and offers an incredible experience for all levels of rafting experience.
Distance from Denver: 1 hour north of Denver, the Cache La Poudre is a great option for those looking for a scenic trip with fun whitewater.
Lower Poudre: The milder section of the river is known as the Lower Poudre. This offers a class II-III experience. This is the perfect half day activity for families looking for great views and great whitewater.
- Families with kids: The Lower Poudre is a great section to raft if you have children in your group.
Wild and Scenic: The Poudre river is also one of the only “Wild and Scenic” sections of river in Colorado, describing the awesome scenery and wildlife the trip will hold.
- Thrill seekers: This is perfect for those looking for a heart pumping experience.
Mishawaka Falls: If you are looking for a more thrilling section of whitewater near this area, try Mishawaka falls. This solid class IV will offer all the trills you are looking for, along with the gorgeous lower canyon views. Make sure to check out the Mishawaka amphitheater right off the side of the river. This amazing venue is a bucket list for show-lovers of all ages!
- Thrill Seekers: Perfect for a group looking to raft class IV whitewater.
As we mentioned above, there will be not shortage of views during these trips. The Poudre is also nestled in between mountains and will take in incredible scenery as your wind through the valley. Once you’re done rafting, downtown Fort Collins is the perfect vacation town with walk-ability, music venues, restaurants and more!
3.) Colorado River – Kremmling, CO
Are you more of the chill type? Are you just looking to see more of Colorful Colorado’s views without unneeded stress? The Upper Colorado river is the river for you! Located about 2 hours from Denver and offering mild class II rapids and spectacular high-desert canon views, the Upper C is a destination for families, groups looking for a milder experience, or groups looking for one of the best overnight trips Colorado has to offer.
Distance from Denver: 2 hours northwest of Denver, the Upper Colorado is the perfect river that offers amazing views and runs all spring, summer and fall.
Upper C Rafting: A half day experience would typically run between Pumphouse and Radium and gives you the opportunity to relax in the balmy radium hot springs, or maybe pump up your adrenaline with a cliff-jump. Looking for a longer experience? Try running between pumphouse and Rancho del rio. Even better, if you are looking for a three-day trip, you can run all the way down to State Bridge.
- Families with children & those looking for a relaxing experience: This section is really fun and you will hit a few rapids but it is perfect for kids and those wanting to take in the scenery.
Stand Up Paddle Board: If you are looking for more of a challenge, then stand up paddle board is the perfect adventure for the Colorado river. Smaller rapids will give you a bit of a challenge while the mild river gives you a chance to take in the scenery and focus on your paddling.
- Thrill Seekers: Stand Up Paddle Boarding down the Upper Colorado is the perfect combination of challenging, exciting, and fun.
Inflatable Kayaks: This is such a fun way to take on the Upper Colorado! Try your hand at kayaking but let the inflatable kayaks make your trip a bit less technical.
- Thrill Seekers: Put your steering to the test and navigate the water in an inflatable kayak.
Another awesome option for whitewater rafting near Denver, Colorado!
In conclusion, if you are looking for a true Colorado Rafting experience, Idaho Spring’s historic rafting runs, the Poudre’s wild and scenic rapids, and the Colorado river’s relaxing and fun experience are all great options for you and your family. Learn more about rafting options near Denver, and don;t miss out on the adventure you won’t be able to stop talking about!
Next time you are in Denver, make sure you check out one of these whitewater rafting options for the trip of a lifetime.