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Royal Gorge Rafting on the Arkansas River
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    Home  :: Rafting Home  :: Rafting Trips  :: Colorado Rafting Trips  :: Arkansas River Rafting  :: Royal Gorge Rafting

    Royal Gorge Rafting on the Arkansas River

    Sunshine Rapid in 1991 at 2500 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller
    Sunshine Rapid in 1992 at 2100 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller Sunshine Rapid in 1992 - Oar Frame at 1800 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller Sunshine Rapid in 1992 at 2700 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller View of Royal Gorge Bridge from the River - photo by Brad Goettemoeller Brad Goettemoeller and Joe Pawlak R2 through Sunshine Rapid at 3200 cfs - photo by Kayakero
    The New Sunshine Rapid after it changed in 1995 at 1600 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller Royal Gorge Train along the Grateful Dead Rapid at 1600 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller Old Pumphouse between Upper and Lower Pumphouse Rapid at 1600 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller Mike Annese running the top hole in Sledge Hammer Rapid at 1600 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller Bottom of Pumphouse Rapid at 1600 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller
    Sledgehammer Rapid below the top hole at 1600 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller Top of Boateater Rapid at 1600 cfs - photo by Brad Goettemoeller
    click a photo to enlarge
    Royal Gorge Rafting Info
    Difficulty: Class III-IV
    Trip Length: 11.5 miles
    Season: May, June, July, August
    Season Comments:

    Towns near Royal Gorge Rafting
    Cañon City Colorado
    Colorado Springs Colorado
    Crested Butte Colorado
    Denver Colorado
    Dillon Colorado
    Frisco Colorado
    Golden Colorado
    Gunnison Colorado
    Keystone Colorado
    Leadville Colorado
    Manitou Springs Colorado
    Salida Colorado
    Silverthorne Colorado
    Vail Colorado

    Royal Gorge Rafting Trip Description
    The Royal Gorge is one of the most spectacular geologic wonders in Colorado. It is more than 1000 feet deep with near vertical red walls that house some of the best whitewater on the Arkansas River. On your Royal Gorge rafting trip, you'll pound through fantastic rapids such as Sunshine Falls, Sledgehammer, Wall slammer and Boateater. 

    As you are rafting through the Royal Gorge, you'll pass under the highest suspension bridge in the world 1053 feet above. The Royal Gorge is the last whitewater rafting run before the Arkansas River heads out into the plains of eastern Colorado. Due to its lower elevation and desert environment, Royal Gorge rafting trips are usually warmer and have more water than the runs upstream.

    Similar to the other rafting trips on the Arkansas River, the season usually runs from May to August with some outfitters running trips as early as April and as late as September. Canon City is the closest town and temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees in the late summer months. However, in April and May you should prepare for cool temperatures and cold water. 

    The highest flows generally occur in late May through late June.  At flows higher than 3200 cfs, all Royal Gorge rafting trips are prohibited and for good reason.  Giant boat swallowing holes and waves 15-20 feet high develop. When the water is too high, Royal Gorge rafting trips are re-routed to the Parkdale section upstream. At lower flows, white water features are still awe inspiring but they are much easier to navigate.

    There are many rafting outfitters that offer 1/2 and full day Royal Gorge rafting trips. Several of these rafting outfitters are featured below.  Please contact them to book your Royal Gorge white water rafting trip.

    Contact Royal Gorge Rafting Outfitters in One Step
    3 Royal Gorge Rafting Outfitters
    Mile Hi Rafting
    Photo of rafting with Mile Hi Rafting
    Location: Dumont, CO
    More Details
    Outfitter Website
    River Runners Colorado
    Photo of rafting with River Runners Colorado
    Location: Buena Vista & Canon City, Colorado, CO
    More Details
    Outfitter Website
    Echo Canyon River Expeditions
    Photo of rafting with Echo Canyon River Expeditions
    Location: Canon City, CO
    Price: $81.00-$141.00
    More Details
    Outfitter Website
    Trip Reviews for Royal Gorge Rafting
    Avg. Trip Review (4.8 Stars):
    Number of Trip Reviews: 4

    Write a trip review of Royal Gorge RaftingWrite an online review of Royal Gorge Rafting.

    A great Colorado experience - for the brave!, May 29, 2006
    Reviewer: Jim from Westminster, CO
    Just got back from a trip down the Royal Gorge, the Arkansas was running at about 2700 CFS on a beautiful Colorado day. (The park service closes the river to commercial rafting at 3200.) This is an excellent experience but beware, Class V rapids are no joke. It's all fun and games until you're a swimmer! My friend and I got tossed from the boat at the bottom of Sunshine and got caught in a recirculating hole. The 40-degree (F) water robs your strength very quickly and we were both lucky to be rescued before the next set of rapids. Further down the canyon we lost our guide on Wall Slammer! Don't get me wrong, it's a ton of fun - most boats made it through without loosing anybody and the pictures of me and my friend fighting for our lives are priceless. Highly recommended for healthy, physically fit people who have some previous whitewater experience.
    512 of 706 people found this review helpful. Was it helpful to you?     
    High Water Royal Rafting Trip!, Sep 16, 2005
    Reviewer: Tom from Dallas, TX

    So my buddies and I were staying near Canon City last year in June and decided to do go rafting on the Royal Gorge. The water was chocolate brown and running fast. It was a cool day and our guides recommended wetsuits. I was glad I had mine because we got slammed with wall after wall of water. One of my friends fell out but we got him back in fast. One of the best vacations I've ever had. Our guide was amazing and perfectly navigated us through the continuous rapids. If you're ready for a crazy whitewater trip, do the Royal Gorge in June. Simply the Best!
    192 of 482 people found this review helpful. Was it helpful to you?     
    Rafting the Royal Gorge was awesome, Jun 02, 2005
    Reviewer: Jim from Denver, CO USA

    The awe I felt as we passed through the Royal Gorge was incredible. Our trip was in June and the river level was pretty high. A couple of people in our group fell out and ended up swimming in the river for a while in some big rapids. We got them back and everyone was okay. I would say this trip is definitely for the more hardy individuals. I loved it but some others were a little scared. I'd definitely go on a royal gorge rafting trip again!
    244 of 437 people found this review helpful. Was it helpful to you?     
    The Royal Gorge was the best rafting trip I've done, May 05, 2005
    Reviewer: Ty from Denver, CO

    Picture sunny day, beautiful 1500 foot deep canyon, and great whitewater rapids. This was my most memorable day on a rafting trip ever. I can't wait for my next trip on the Royal Gorge on the Arkansas River.
    224 of 429 people found this review helpful. Was it helpful to you?     
    Other Resources for Royal Gorge Rafting Trips
  • Chaffee County Times
  • Mountain Mail
  • Professional and Industry
  • Colorado River Outfitters Association
  • River Managing Agencies
  • Colorado State Parks
  • Travel Guides
  • Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce
  • Chaffee County Visitor's Bureau
  • Heart of the Rockies Chamber of Commerce

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    Royal Gorge Rafting on the Arkansas River
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