Whitewater rafting is one of the best group activities to do in the summer and will make a splash during any vacation. While you can’t actually raft right in Breckenridge, Colorado, it’s the perfect basecamp to kick-off any whitewater rafting trip. Get excited for one of Colorado’s most beloved summer activities- here’s everything you need to know about whitewater rafting near Breckenridge!
When’s the Best Time of Year to go Whitewater Rafting in Breckenridge?
May – September
Rafting season in the Rocky Mountains begins each spring when the snow melts off of the mountains and into the nearby rivers. Typically, rafting season runs early May through early September, depending on winter snowfall and precipitation throughout the summer. The rafting season can extend beyond that for a wetter year or be shorter during a dry year. Be sure to call raft companies ahead of your trip or visit the Welcome Center for the latest updates on river conditions and guided tour availability.
Can Anyone go Rafting?
Yes! Whitewater rafting is one of the best-kept secrets in Breckenridge and it isn’t just for thrill seekers. Trips on Colorado’s rivers can be customized by age, ability level and sense of adventure. From adrenaline junkies looking for huge waves and pounding hearts to those looking for a relaxing float trip that showcases scenery, solitude, wildlife and history; there’s a rafting experience that’s perfect for any group.
Rafting is one of the top activities to do with the kids, and guided rafting trips are fun for first-timers as well as experienced rafters looking to try a new river. You can find everything from a half-day mellow whitewater experience to a four-day float trip. There are a variety of outfitters in Breckenridge that can accommodate all levels and types of whitewater adventures.
Where to go rafting near Breckenridge, Colorado
While you can’t actually raft right in Breckenridge, Colorado, it’s the perfect basecamp to kick-off any whitewater rafting trip. Many companies even offer shuttles to and from the rapids, making going car-free in Breckenridge easy! Popular rafting locations near Breckenridge are Browns Canyon, Blue River, Colorado River and Clear Creek Canyon, all just a short drive away.
A trip down Browns Canyon National Monument is a fun and thrilling rafting adventure with spectacular mountain views. This trip is great for beginners, families and experienced rafters alike. If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, the Numbers section is a technical stretch of the Arkansas River, and is widely considered just about the best Class IV run in the state of Colorado. Rafting companies servicing Browns Canyon are based out of Buena Vista, about 1 hour from Breckenridge.
Clear Creek is a conveniently located II-IV whitewater stretch that has become an afternoon playground for those traveling between Denver and Breckenridge. Families with small children to those experienced whitewater thrill seekers will find something for everyone just off I-70 in Clear Creek Canyon near Idaho Springs.
The Blue River is the closest rafting location to Breckenridge, just 30 minutes away near Silverthorne. This section of the Blue leads you through the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area where you will find breathtaking mountain views. This is a great trip for all ability levels and is perfect for a half-day adventure. Please be aware that the Blue River rafting window is shorter than other rivers- call ahead for availability!
The Colorado River offers mellow family float trips starting in Kremmling, just an hour drive from Breckenridge. The Upper Colorado River has half day and full day float trips that are great for beginners and families with young children who want to spend a day on the river.
Paddlers looking for a bit more excitement can head to nearby Glenwood Springs, just an hour and a half drive from Breckenridge, for mild to moderate adventures. Between whitewater fun, there’s time for relaxation as you drift lazily between the beautiful, towering walls of the Glenwood Canyon. If it’s warm enough, you may even want to take a swimming break!
Types of Rafting Trips
The most popular trips are half-day and full-day trips, though longer and shorter trips are available. Half-day trips typically comprise of two-three hours on the river while full day trips are four-five hours and usually include a riverside lunch. While the menu differs between rafting companies, you should expect to end lunch well fed and ready for more action!
- Local’s Tip: When planning your rafting trip, don’t forget to configure travel time into your plans. Most companies offer a pick-up shuttle if you’re looking to ride the rapids but not drive a car around mountain roads.
What to know when planning a rafting trip
- Always choose the wetsuit
The water you’re rafting on used to be snow. Even on warm sunny days, the water in the Rocky Mountains is cold and it’ll be splashing you as you paddle down the river. Your wetsuit will keep you sufficiently warm while making you look like a superhero. If you don’t believe us, just ask your guide.
- Bring water
We recommend bringing a filled re-usable water bottle on any adventure to ensure you are staying hydrated. Local’s Tip: bring a carabiner to clip your water bottle to the boat!
- Wear sunscreen
Even on cloudy days, the sun is more powerful above sea-level and with 300+ days of sunshine, you’re sure to be exposed to it. Lather-up and reapply.
- Rafting isn’t cellphone friendly
We know you want photos but we don’t recommend bringing your cellphone on the rafting trip. For starters, wetsuits and rafts don’t have pockets for them. Secondly, your hands will be too busy paddling the rapids to dig out your cellphone. Many rafting companies hire riverside photographers to capture the best splashes so you can always buy a photo of your adventure after your trip.
- Bring cash to tip your guide
You’re going to have an amazing raft guide who makes you laugh until your sides hurt, educates you about the river and its rock formations and nearby towns, teaches you the technical skills of rafting and keeps you safe while heading down the river. Trust us, you’ll want to tip your guide. Grab cash at one of the ATMs or banks in town or ask the rafting company if you can leave one on your credit card.
For more rafting info, check out our 9 Tips for a Great Whitewater Rafting Trip.