Whitewater Rafting FAQs

Why Should I Raft With Echo Canyon?

Echo Canyon River Expeditions was started in 1978 with the goal of providing the best possible river experience. The size of our company has grown substantially since those early days, but our team spirit, dedication, and attention to detail is still at its best. Safety is our primary concern. Our guides are devoted professionals who are interesting, intelligent, and fun to be with. They are experts in everything from rowing a rapid to sharing a good story. All guides go through an extensive training program and are First Aid and CPR certified. We are proud of the varied qualities our staff contributes to our company. The most innovative and top quality equipment is used and we only use self bailing rafts. We take pride in the fact that most of our guests have been with us before or were referred to us by someone who was — quality and satisfaction keeps bringing them back! Experience the “ECHO DIFFERENCE”. Learn more about why you should raft with us.

Trip Planning Questions

Are you in the beginning stages of planning your getaway and exploring a raft trip as an activity? See the Q and A section below or give us a call and we’ll help you out! 800-755-3246

Which Trip Should We Choose?

First time paddlers and seasoned boaters alike will enjoy the class III whitewater of the Parkdale run also known as Bighorn Sheep Canyon of the Arkansas. Our half-day trip will encounter several major rapids; and once you start, the fun doesn’t end until you finish the trip. The full-day trip is action-packed with over 20 invigorating rapids. You’ll have ample time to relish the exquisite mountain scenery and enjoy our scrumptious riverside luncheon buffet (recommended minimum age is 6 years old).

For the experienced rafter wanting the ultimate in whitewater and outstanding scenery, the choice should be the Royal Gorge. The half-day trip is a thrill-a-minute expedition for those with previous paddling experience and on a tight schedule. The full-day trip is nationally known as being one of the Top 10 river runs in the U.S.A. Good physical conditioning as well as swimming ability is recommended for all trips through the Royal Gorge (recommended minimum age is 14-18 years old).

When considering which trip to choose, please consider the suggestions on our Guest Responsibility document to ensure a fun and memorable experience for your group.

We offer several multi-day combinations of our Arkansas River trips to provide overnight trips for all experience levels. The Royal Gorge & Numbers 2-day trip is the most extreme. The 2-day Bighorn Canyon & Browns Canyon is the mildest overnight trip. For several days of excellent whitewater, we suggest the Browns Canyon, Numbers, Royal Gorge 3-day trip.

When is the Best Time to Go?

There is no “best time” to go. However, there are seasonal differences that need to be considered when planning your trip. Our regular season runs from mid-April through mid-September. The Arkansas River typically reaches its peak sometime between mid-May and early July producing some of the best whitewater in Colorado. Remember. . . May and June tend to have cooler air temperatures and a chance for late afternoon showers. July through early September are the warm and sunny months with somewhat lower water levels. When the spring run-off is at its peak, some sections and/or rapids may be unrunnable. During these rare instances, we will accommodate your group on another section of the river. The majority of our overnight trips are run mid-May through early August depending upon water levels.

What Equipment Does Echo Canyon Provide?

All necessary river equipment is provided for you. Echo Canyon River Expeditions adheres to the following policy when it comes to rafting equipment: nothing can replace top quality. All equipment is maintained and we replace equipment when we feel it is necessary. We ask that you come prepared with a waterproof rain jacket or windbreaker and a wool shirt or sweater. We also rent wetsuits, splash jackets, and river shoes which can contribute greatly to the enjoyment of your trip when weather is a consideration.

What is the Difference Between a Paddle Boat and an Oar Boat?

If you are in good health and would like to participate, paddle rafting is the choice for you. Each person has a paddle in their hand and the guide will give instructions and commands of what to do. You will need to continue to paddle in the rapids. If you prefer to hold on and enjoy the ride and mountain scenery, the oar rigged raft is for you. It is recommended that children, age 12 and under, ride in an oar raft with a parent or legal guardian. All oar boats will have several paddles available so guests and children can participate if they choose while the guide controls the raft with his/her oars.

Do I Have to Know How to Swim?

No! Every person on the trip will be issued a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type V Personal Flotation Device, better known as a life jacket. These devices are designed to float your head above the surface of the water even if you do not know how to swim. It needs to be noted that on any raft trip, particularly our more advanced trips, having the ability to swim will greatly enhance your comfort zone as well as your ability to get out of the river in the event you should find yourself out of the raft. A detailed safety lecture of instructions is given before the rafts are launched. Swimming ability is strongly recommended on our more advanced river trips. Click here to read more about your responsibility as a guest to ensure a fun and memorable experience.

How Safe is it?

The charm and excitement of whitewater rafting is due in part to the unpredictable nature of the activity. The more challenging the rapid the more difficult it is to navigate successfully. Fluctuating water levels, weather and other variables are difficult to predict. Quality river trips depend largely on the skill and personality of the river guide. We carefully hand select our guides on that premise. All of our buses are equipped with radios to facilitate necessary communication. Our family of staff will contribute their knowledge and skills to ensure an enjoyable experience. We have safety protocol in place to address those instances that may present themselves. For your safety and ours, no alcohol or illegal drugs are permitted before or during the trip. Those who do not adhere to this very basic request will not be allowed to participate nor will a refund be available. We do our best to help you select a trip appropriate for your group, although you as the guest have certain responsibilities to ensure you have a fun and memorable experience.

Can You Accommodate My Special Medical Condition?

Any medical condition or physical disability must be reported to Echo Canyon River Expeditions when you make your reservation as well as written on the Release of Liability and Acknowledgement of Risk form. Be sure to advise the Echo “trip leader” and your guide of your condition before the trip. Bring along any prescribed medication you may require. Please consult with your family physician for medical approval before your trip. We do NOT recommend whitewater rafting if you have any of the following conditions: heart or lung conditions, severe asthma, back problems, recent surgery, obesity or osteoporosis. Pregnant women are NOT allowed on any of our trips under any circumstance. If you suffer from anaphylaxis you will need to bring you epi-pen with you on the trip. Please ask one of our helpful reservationists for assistance as they may be able to direct you to a particular trip that is suitable.

Do You Run Trips if it's Raining?

Our river trips leave as scheduled, rain or shine. However, we reserve the right to cancel or shorten a trip due to extreme weather conditions if we feel it would be unsafe to continue.

Can I Request a Raft Guide?

Sure! Be sure and do so when you first make your reservation. We will do our best to honor your request; however, they may be requested by multiple guests on the same day or may be working on another section of the river. Also, to be fair and equitable to our staff, we DO NOT honor guide requests based on experience level, gender, age, race, or other discriminatory characteristics. 

What Methods of Payment do you Accept?

Echo Canyon River Expeditions accepts cash, cashier’s checks, travelers’ checks, money orders, Visa, Master Card, Discover, and American Express. We can accept personal checks ONLY if it is received in our office no less than 21 days before your trip departure date. Personal checks will not be accepted less than 21 days before your trip date.

Are There Taxes?

There is no “tax” to raft but there are user fees since we are accessing state land and private land in most cases. Land, water and access or user fees vary from river to river averaging 9.4%.

Can I Purchase a Gift Certificate?

Yes! River trips make great gifts! Select a particular trip for the recipient or give a dollar value certificate and let them arrange the river trip and date to suit their schedule.

Will You Help Me Organize a Group?

If you have a group of 10 or more, you may qualify for our reduced group rates. Our helpful staff is available to answer any questions you have 7 days a week 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. during the heart of our season.

How do I Make a Reservation?

It’s EASY! Reserve online or call 1-800-755-ECHO(3246) 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week during our season (April through August) and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday during the off season.

My Raft Trip is Coming Up - What Should I Bring?

Do you have questions about what to wear, if you should bring your phone on the raft, or other questions about preparing for your upcoming trip? See the common Q and A section below to be sure you’re prepared for your raft trip!

What Should We Wear to Raft?

“Hypothermia” or the loss of body heat, is the biggest cause of discomfort on river trips. Even in sunny, 80 degree weather, the wrong combination of water, temperature, wind, and wet clothing can bring it on. To combat this, avoid cotton clothing and instead go with synthetic layers that will both wick moisture away from your skin and insulate your body at the same time. Many guests start with bathing suits or synthetic undergarments, followed by board shorts, capri pants, or tights. A short sleeve or long sleeve shirt made of athletic / performance knit fabric is a great choice for your upper body. Feel free to bring along a rain jacket or shell – jackets with velcro closures at the wrist and a cinch strap the waist are the best choice. If you own a wetsuit consider bringing it along. If not, we suggest renting our wetsuits. Cotton clothing, ESPECIALLY BLUE JEANS or SWEATS, are NOT ACCEPTABLE because they hold cold moisture next to your skin. We do require secure footwear while rafting; this could be light weight sneakers, water shoes, sports sandals, or any other type of footwear that straps or stays securely on your feet. We do not allow flip flops or Croc sandals – they are not secure and end up littering the river. Those embarking on Multi-Day Trips should download a copy of our Overnight Checklist (PDF file).

How Much Are Wetsuit Rentals?

Shorts, bathing suit, and sneakers are proper attire, as most days are sunny and hot. We suggest you leave a change of clothes in your car as you WILL get wet! Items such as snacks, beverages, t-shirts, hats, sunglasses, shorts, eye-glass retainers, water-proof cameras and sunscreen are available at our shop. We also carry top of the line wetsuits that are well maintained to insure performance and cleanliness. Reservations are not required.

River Shoes Wetsuit Splash Jacket All 3 Items
Half Day $5 $7 $5 $15
Full Day $5 $10 $7 $20

Do I Need to Worry About Sun Protection and Hydration?

You certainly do! We are rafting in an arid environment at an elevation of over 6,000 feet, so the sun’s rays are quite intense and sunburn occurs even on cooler or cloudy days. Consider bringing waterproof sunscreen and feel free to bring it along on the raft. Feel free to wear a ball cap, but full brim hats are not as comfortable as they don’t fit well under the required helmet we provide. Even if it’s a 100 degree day we still encourage guests to wear a long sleeve synthetic shirt for sun protection. 

We encourage all guests to bring a refillable water bottle and bring it along on the raft to avoid dehydration and altitude fatigue. Our rafts have a community mesh bag attached to them for the purpose of storing water bottles and sunscreen.

Can I Bring My Camera?

If you don’t want to get your camera wet, don’t take it on the river with you. Waterproof cell phone cases/pouches are usually available for purchase in our retail store, but we don’t encourage taking an expensive phone on the river – they do sometimes get lost or destroyed! That said, many guests do bring along a cell phone with a quality waterproof case/pouch. Please do not trust a standard ziplock bag – or even two ziplocks – to keep your phone dry! It never works!

Keep in mind that Echo Canyon has a photo program capturing photos and video while you raft. These will be available to view and purchase immediately after your trip. There is no obligation to purchase the photos or videos – we capture footage on each trip and you can view and / or purchase back at our rafting office.

Are Gratuities Acceptable?

Yes. Although our staff is compensated for their services, as in any professional service, an exceptional job by any staff member may merit a gratuity. If you are booking for a group and wish to add a $7 to $10 per person auto gratuity our staff can assist you while making your reservation.

What About the Cuisine?

Our riverside lunch available on full day trips includes a gourmet-style boxed lunch. The exact contents of the meal may vary slightly, but guests can typically expect a deli-style sandwich, pickle spear, a bag of Boulder chips, three bean salad or potato salad, fresh fruit, cookies, and water or sparkling water. 

Doubling as a chef at mealtime on multi-day river trips, our guides will amaze you with the tasty meals from the “riverside kitchen”. Fresh fruit, pancakes, juice, coffee, and English muffins with egg and meat dishes constitute a typical breakfast on multi-day trips. For dinner, we prepare tasty appetizers, hearty well-rounded meals and delicious desserts. You’ll leave the campfire feeling satisfied! The warm, friendly personalities of our guides rounds out every meal. Please advise us of any special dietary requirements you may have in advance and we will be happy to accommodate you.

How Many People Go in a Raft?

Our 14 foot self-bailing rafts will accommodate 7-8 guests and 1 guide. At lower water levels we will usually take no more than six guests in a raft. When planning a trip for a group try to reserve in multiples of 7. For example; a group of 14 would be divided into 2 groups of 7 and placed in 2 rafts. On all days we attempt to fill our seats, so a group of 10 may be asked to split with 7 and 3, with the group of 7 in one raft and the 3 placed in a raft with 4 people from a different group. If you wish to guarantee your own exclusive raft with only members of you party you may purchase the additional spots in the raft. Discounts for this option may be available on certain days.

What are Echo Canyon's Rafting Policies?

  • Cancellation Guarantee Fee
    Most activities have an optional 7.5% non-refundable fee automatically added to the reservation at the time of booking. For those activities that qualify, the fee allows guests the freedom to change their reservation date or time up to 24 hours before the activity, or the ability to cancel their trip and receive a refund less the Cancellation Guarantee Fee. Catered meals, multi-day reservations, are not eligible for the Cancellation Guarantee. Guests who no-show for activities are not entitled to any refund or rescheduling credit.

    If you would like to opt out of the Cancellation Guarantee, you have the option to uncheck a box at check-out when booking online. If you are reserving your trip by phone, our staff will ask you if you would like to keep the Cancellation Guarantee or if you would like to opt out. Activities not eligible for the Cancellation Guarantee, or those guests who opt out of the Cancellation Guarantee must adhere to our Standard Rafting Cancellation Policy.

  • Standard Rafting Cancellation Policy
    We offer refunds (less $15 per person per day) on any reservation if cancelled at least 14 days before departure date (groups and multi-days require 30 days). Reservations cancelled less than 14 days before departure (less than 30 days for groups and multi-days) are not subject to refund. All trips depart as scheduled regardless of weather conditions.
  • Liability Waiver
    All participants are required to complete our liability waiver prior to rafting.  A draft version of our liability waiver can be found here, but realize this version may not be completed in lieu of our online waiver which is the required form of submission. Please note that if you are traveling with minors other than your own you must have this document completed and signed by the parent or legal guardian prior to participation. As a guest will be emailed a link to complete online liability waivers in advance of your trip.
  • Arrive on Time
    You are responsible for arriving at the correct river office. You must arrive at least 45 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time. All trips depart as scheduled.
  • Medical Condition Disclosure
    Do you or any member of your party have any physical or mental conditions we need to be aware of? i.e. heart or lung condition, diabetes, pregnancy, obesity, special needs, or any other condition that could affect your health and safety while joining us? If so, you agree to inform Echo Canyon well in advance of your raft trip about your medical or physical condition.
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy
    Rafting while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol is strictly prohibited. We reserve the right to remove a guest from a trip (prior to or during a trip) if we feel he or she is impaired by drugs and/or alcohol, and there will be no refund.
  • Food Allergies or Dietary Restrictions
    If you are joining us for a raft trip that includes a meal(s), you agree to inform us at time of booking or well in advance of the trip.
  • Secure Footwear Required
    Secure footwear is required for rafting; this includes sport sandals with a strap that goes around the heel, tennis shoes, river shoes or other footwear that stays securely on your feet. No flip flops, Croc sandals or bare feet.

What are Echo Canyon's Lodging Policies?

  • Cancellation Guarantee Protection
    The optional Cancellation Guarantee fee of 7.5% is automatically added to your reservation. With this added, anytime up to 48 hours in advance of check-in time (3:00 PM) you may change the reservation date based on availability, or cancel your reservation and receive a refund, less the 7.5% fee. If you cancel within 48 hours of check-in time, you will forfeit the amount of the first night rate plus tax; the remaining lodging balance will be refunded to your credit card. Guests who no-call or no-show are not entitled to receive refunds or to reschedule their stay. Guests opting out of the Peace of Mind Protection are subject to our Standard Lodging Cancellation Policy.

    If you would like to opt out of the Cancellation Guarantee, you have the option to uncheck a box at check-out when booking online. If you are reserving your trip by phone, our staff will ask you if you would like to keep the Cancellation Guarantee or if you would like to opt out.

  • Standard Lodging Cancellation Policy
    Guests who cancel a reservation up to 14 days prior to check-in time (4:00 PM) will forfeit the amount of the first night rate plus tax. Guests who cancel a reservation within 14 days of the first night check-in time forfeit two night’s rate plus taxes. Guests who no-call or no-show are not entitled to receive refunds or to reschedule their stay.
  • Check-in / Check-out times
    Check-in time begins at 4 PM. Please check-out by 11 AM.
  • Campfire / Charcoal Policy
    Be aware that on occasion we ban open flames (including campfires, charcoal fires and outdoor smoking) for the safety of all guests. You will be notified at check-in if we under fire ban restrictions.
  • Pet Policy
    We do not allow pets in any of our cabins or glamping tents. There is a pet boarding facility about a mile from the cabins. Eight Mile Ranch pet boarding can be reached at 719-275-2035.
  • Smoking Policy
    We do not allow smoking in any of our rentals. This includes tobacco, vapor, or any other form of smoking. Smoking is not permitted within 25 feet of the cabins to prevent smoke from entering cabins through doors / windows. Violation of this policy will incur a $250 fee. Be aware that during fire bans the only location where smoking is allowed is inside your vehicle. Please dispose of extinguished cigarette butts in the provided containers located at designated smoking areas.
  • Rental Agreement Policy
    At check in all guests are required to read and sign our rental agreement. The agreement includes information regarding our damage policy.

Do We Need to Sign a Release Form / Waiver?

Yes. Release Forms are required to be completed in advance for most activities reserved by Echo Canyon. Below is a complete list of release forms you may need to complete, depending on the activities you have reserved with us. If you have any questions about which forms are required, please contact our phone staff and we will assist you.

  • Echo Canyon River Expeditions – Rafting Release Form
    Before embarking on any river trip with Echo Canyon River Expeditions, each guest must read, understand, and sign our Assumption of Risk, Release of Liability and Indemnification Agreement Form. Please note that if you are traveling with minors other than your own you must have this document completed and signed by the parent or legal guardian prior to participation. As a guest will be emailed a link to complete online liability waivers in advance of your trip. If you wish to review a draft of the waiver a view-only version can be found here, but realize this form is a draft version for review purposes only and will not be accepted if downloaded and completed. Trips that require this release form include: Bighorn Sheep Canyon, Royal Gorge, Family Float, Raft-n-Rail®, Raft-n-Bridge™, Raft & ATV
  • Wilderness Aware Rafting – Rafting Release Form
    Wilderness Aware rafting guests are required to read, understand, initial and sign their Assumption of Risk, Release of Liability and Indemnification Agreement Form (PDF file). All minors (under age 18) must sign AS WELL AS their parents or legal guardians in order to participate in any trip we offer. Trips that require this release form include: Browns Canyon, The Numbers
  • Arkansas Valley Adventures (AVA) – Rafting and/or Zip Line Release Form
    AVA rafting and zip lining guests are required to complete online waivers prior to the activities. Activities that require this release form include: Clear Creek Gold Rush 1/3 Day, Upper Clear Creek 1/2 Day, Clear Creek Outer Limits 3/4 Day, Cliffside Zip Line Course at Clear Clear in Idaho Springs.
  • Adventures Out West (AOW) – Zip Line Release Form
    Zip line adventures require the AOW Release Form is read, understood and signed by participants. All minors (under age 18) must sign AS WELL AS their parents or legal guardians in order to participate in AOW’s zip line tours. Activities that require this release form include: Two Hour Zipline Tour with AOW in Manitou Springs, Two Hour Group Zipline Tour with AOW in Manitou Springs.
  • Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours – Bike Tour Release Form
    Guests taking part in bike tours with Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours are required to complete two release forms…
    • Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours Waiver
      Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours requires each person reads and signs their release form. Minors must also have their forms signed by a parent or legal guardian in advance of the tour.
    • Pikes Peak Highway Liability Waiver
      Since the tour takes place on Colorado Springs City property, participants must also complete their liability waiver. Minors must also have their forms signed by a parent or legal guardian in advance of the tour