Staff Picks

Rafting the Arkansas River: Best White Water in Colorado!

By Brandon Ellis | July 19th, 2021

In Colorado, rafting along the Rockies is a summer essential. It’s the perfect combination of adrenaline, spectacular sights, and team building. We sent staff to Cañon City, only 50 minutes from Cheyenne Mountain Resort, to really experience the tumultuous Arkansas River. In this part of the state, visitors encounter the best whitewater that Colorado has to offer, not to mention a backdrop of dramatic canyons and striking mountain peaks.

There is no one we trust more than Arkansas River Tours to lead our staff and our guests down the careening river. Their passionate and knowledgeable guides lead groups on many journeys through the canyon, ranging in difficulty and time spent. Here’s our review of their most popular trips. 

Bighorn Sheep Canyon

This part of the canyon is an excursion fit for all, from families and first-timers to experienced adventurers. The Bighorn Sheep Canyon portion of the Arkansas River boasts exciting rapids such as Five Points, Spikebuck, Sharks Tooth, Double Dip, and more. This trip does not skip out on the action! In two-and-a-half hours, you’ll battle eleven class II and class III rapids, two of these within the first mile. After ten miles of canyons, waves, and whitewater, you’ll understand why this is the most popular rafting experience in Colorado.

Staff tips:  Pay attention to your guide, but also be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife—as its name suggests, bighorn sheep-like to gather on the bank!

Royal Gorge

An absolute staff favorite, Royal George is ideal for thrill-seekers ready for an adrenaline rush. The Royal Gorge portion of the Arkansas River is one of only three legally permitted destinations in Colorado that have class IV and even class V rapids! Think you’re up to the challenge? Brace yourself for massive waves and steep drops, trust us, it’s a ton of fun. Between splashes, take in the awe-inspiring scenery as you move through canyon walls that tower over one thousand feet tall. What’s unique about this trip is that the Royal Gorge train will drive by your left, historic water pipes will be to your right, and yes, you will float right under the Royal Gorge Bridge itself. The sight will be something to certainly log into your memory banks, you won’t want to forget it!

Arkansas River Tours offers a half-day tour for teens and adults, a full-day option for advanced rafters, and a special challenge trip for highly experienced rafters and adventure athletes. To conquer the Royal George, you’ll want to be in decent physical shape, all three of these expeditions require vigorous and often technical paddling.

Staff tips: If by chance you fall out of the raft, don’t let that ruin your experience! The Arkansas River Tour guides are trained to get you back in safely. As long as you listen to their directions beforehand and while in the water, you will be fine. Celebrate each successful rapid by raising your paddles in the air and giving your team a “Paddle-Five”!

When it comes to adventure travel, white water rafting is a bucket-list-worthy excursion. Arkansas River Tours makes sure to take good care of our resort guests so that they can come back and relax in their mountain-view resort room.

Reserve Your Rafting Trip Now