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River Rendezvous

Rafting Options Seemingly Endless for Colorado Springs Residents

Colorado Springs residents have some of the best white-water rafting options in the entire country just a short drive away.

Colorado Springs residents have some of the best white-water rafting options in the entire country just a short drive away.

One of the great things about living in the Pikes Peak region is the area’s proximity to the grandeurs of nature.

Colorado Springs residents enjoy scenic views on a daily basis, and they know they can whisk themselves away for weekend excursions that are just a short drive away. That certainly is the case for the exhilaration of white water rafting, as one of the country’s hotbeds for the activity is easily accessible in Canon City.

The Royal Gorge area and Arkansas River have long been ideal spots for rafting enthusiasts to drop in and hit the rapids as breathtaking scenery envelops them.

“We’re pretty darn lucky,” says Ty Seufer, owner and operator of Royal Gorge Rafting. “It’s literally the best 10 miles (of river) in the state of Colorado, and we’re pretty proud of that section.”

Tony Keenan, who co-founded Whitewater Adventure Outfitters with his wife, Kathy, in 1994, agrees.

“We are a short distance from Colorado Springs, making rafting on the Arkansas River a must-do for locals and visitors alike,” Keenan says. “The Royal Gorge trip is, in my opinion, the best raft trip in Colorado in terms of scenery and whitewater combined. There are many places to go rafting in Colorado, but you can’t beat the Arkansas for its accessibility, great whitewater and season-long sustained flows.”

Whether you are an experienced rafter or a first-timer, you can have the time of your life just an hour down the road. The ultra-competitive rafting industry has raised the bar in terms of options and packages that are available, with family friendly trips or great combo deals that can maximize the most avid adventure-seeker’s time in the wilderness.

Zip lines have become all the rage in recent years, so many rafting companies offer rafting-zip line packages that give customers both experiences on the same day. From train rides along the river, wine and helicopter tours and ATV excursions to horseback riding, mountain biking and world-class rock climbing, it’s all available in the Royal Gorge area.

“People are always looking for the bundle and want to package it,” says Seufer, who also offers a Water 2 Wine Heli Tour deal. “We love our zip line and rafting package. It’s our number-one package in the whole state, and it’s just a spectacular value.”

Increased competition and the addition of regulations and standard practices have changed the industry in the last decade, but that actually works out to the traveler’s advantage.

“In the competitive environment on this river, the consumer wins big,” Keenan says. “One of the many reasons the Arkansas River is so popular is that it is also a very affordable place to go rafting as compared to some other places throughout the country.”

Many packages cost just $150 per day, with plenty of affordable options for weekend deals for families, groups and couples.

The good news for rafting enthusiasts for the summer is the strong winter has set the stage for solid water levels all season.

“With recent rain & mountain snowfall the anticipated flows should be excellent for all sorts of different raft trips,” Keenan says. “Peak flows should be really very good for those looking to experience adventurous trips in either the Royal Gorge section or Bighorn Canyon.”

With so many choices and a plethora of rafting companies available, customers can be choosy and spend extra time tailoring an excursion that fits their specific wants and needs. Several companies – including Arkansas River Tours, Echo Canyon river Expeditions, Noah’s Ark and Raft Masters – have been around for decades and have a proven track record, and virtually every company has highly trained and gifted guides who are not only dedicated to guests’ safety, but also their overall experience.

So, why not hit the road for a little excitement and fun this summer?

“Colorado Springs residents can access some of the best rafting trips in the country right in their own backyard,” Keenan says.