Reasons to Go Late Season Rafting

Written by Ben Sack, 09.06.2018

Reasons to Go Late Season Rafting

Leaves are about to change colors and there is a subtle yet unavoidable chill in the morning air. Before the snow comes and alters the Colorado landscape—changing from a lush playground full of whitewater and outdoor activities to one blanketed in sheets of chilly white—use this opportunity to come and experience one last river adventure.

As the white water levels of the Arkansas river fall, so do the number of rafters on the river. Yet there are still many exciting stretches of whitewater, with Class III-IV rapids ready to ignite laughter and thrill on your last summer adventure…

Late season rafting is, on many accounts, different from early and mid-summer rafting—yet these differences make this time of year the favorite for many adventurers when it comes to river exploration.

Why Late Season Rafting is One of the Best Times of the Year

family floatRafting in August and September offers many benefits that aren’t available for the rest of the year (rafting season in Colorado is from mid-April through mid-September). While the whitewater is less intense, there are still many thrilling moments to be had. Plus, the mountains and river itself are less crowded and you can soak in more sun before the chill transforms lively summer into cozy winter.

For some of us, this unique time of year provides our favorite season for whitewater rafting. Whether you enjoyed the rushing water earlier in the year or have yet to make it up, late summer rafting is an experience you don’t want to miss out on, and here are a few of the reasons why.

The River is Your Private Slice of Colorado Wilderness

The kids are back in school and Colorado tourism season is winding down, resulting in a much more relaxed and secluded rafting experience. Imagine floating through rugged canyons, hearing only the sounds of river water and wind rustling the leaves as you enjoy a break between exciting rapids.

The best swimming spots are now open, without the need to dodge incoming rafts or jostle among a crowd of kiddos. While there will still be other adventurers around, the crowds are smaller and the groups tend to be older, leading to more serene time on the river.

Lower Water Means More Time on the Water

As the water levels dip, the pace of the river slows. This gives an added advantage of longer river trips. You’ll have more time in between exhilarating rapids to take in the scenery, floating along remote stretches of Colorado wilderness.

You may be lucky enough to spot big horned sheep on our Bighorn Sheep Canyon trip, or eagles flying above. You’ll learn about the rich history and geology of the region from your raft guide while chatting with your friends and family, far from computer screens and smartphones.

water flows on the Arkansas River

The Rapids are Still Thrilling

Rafting the Royal Gorge with Echo CanyonWhile a raging river filled with water, as in the early summer months, is known for its adrenaline-pumping thrills, there is no shortage of excitement during the later months. This excitement will just be elongated as you have more time to relax in between rapids.

You might think that lower water levels mean little challenge, but that cannot be further from the truth. Class III rapids are still Class III rapids, Class IV still Class IV, and so on…the gradient and slopes don’t change, so you’ll still be taking large drops where there were large drops months earlier.

While the whitewater is slightly slower, this more peaceful pace can be perfect for families or those looking for a relaxing time spent in nature.

This is Your Last Chance to Take Advantage of Summer

Once winter hits, you’ll be reminiscing of the warm weather and amazing adventures that summer provided, wishing you could have a bit more of it. Rather than staying at home in the city while the seasons begin to change, get outside while you still have the chance!

It will be more than half a year before you can raft down the Arkansas River again, so use this as an excuse to do all of the outdoor adventurings you may have missed out on this summer.

You can pair rafting with mountain biking down one of Colorado’s most famous “14ers,”—peaks reaching more than 14,000 ft into the sky—sky-zip-lining over the treetops, or taking a train ride along the Arkansas River.

If you’re looking to get the most out of these last days of summer, stay the weekend and enjoy the stars as you sit around a campfire with your family, getting in one last summer memory before it’s too late.

We offer glamping tents and cabins with luxurious king beds and firepits right outside your front door. Here you can enjoy views of mountain peaks, still bald, waiting for their caps of snow that are right around the corner.

Get One Last Rafting Experience In Before It’s Too Late

If you’re looking for one more whitewater adventure before the snow melt starting in April of next year, give us a call and we’ll help you plan your perfect rafting experience. From places to stay and spots to eat to the best trip for rafters of all ages and experience levels, our team has the knowledge and passion to help you plan your perfect end-of-summer trip.

water flows on the Arkansas River

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About the Author

Ben Sack is the General Manager of Echo Canyon River Expeditions, Colorado's largest white water rafting outfitter. He's also a raft guide, a photographer, and he loves exploring Colorado and beyond with his wife and two boys.
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