Rafting Rivers near Rocky Mountain National Park

There is rafting for all levels and age groups near Rocky Mountain National Park. Check out the Poudre River, Upper Colorado River, and Gore Canyon.
By Staff,

Whoever came up with the idea of floating down rivers in blue boats is a genius. No trip to Rocky Mountain National Park is complete without a river trip, and luckily for you we've got the best trips to choose from.

Big waves, a chance to bond with your kids, scenic canyons, and a fast-talking river guide are just a few of the perks. So why not take a moment and check out a river while visiting the Park. Then the real question on your mind will be: when I'm told to paddle will I do it or just freeze?

Rafting the Poudre River

Colorado's only wild and scenic river, the Poudre cuts through the La Poudre River Canyon just a few miles outside the Park's boundary. Steep-walled and filled with house-size boulders, the Poudre is a great place for beginner and experienced rafters alike.

Several outfitters are located in Estes Park and offer trips ranging from a few hours to full day excursions filled with rapids named Three Rock, Crystal Wall, and Rocky Falls. If you're a beginner looking for an exciting challenge, but don't need to pee your pants, the Filter Plant Run is a solid choice, while more aggressive rafters might want to try their hand at the Upper and Lower Mishawaka run, combining over 6 miles of continuous class III and IV whitewater.

Rafting season depends on the winter's snowpack, but usually begins during mid May and lasts through late August. Trips can fill up quickly during summer months so don't forget to make a reservation, and if you're an adrenaline junky, the closer to opening day you raft the better. Higher water means bigger rapids leading to one thing: pure adrenaline being pumped through your veins.

Rafting the Upper Colorado River

Perfect for families of all ages, the Upper Colorado River passes through remote wilderness canyons dotted with bighorn sheep, bald eagles, and even the occasional black beer. Experience the canyon in either half or full day trips, which depending on the outfitter can include cliff jumping, hot springs, tunnels, and of course class II and III rapids. Just like the Poudre, the season typically begins in May and runs through September, so book early to secure your spot.

Rafting in the Gore Canyon (The BIG Stuff)

For the ultimate adrenaline rush, head to Gore Canyon-one the most aggressive class V whitewater runs anywhere in the United States. Only the fittest and most experienced rafters will be able to tackle this technical challenge full of car-size holes, vertical drops, and boof moves. But don't be overly intimidated; outfitters will walk around some rapids if you don't feel up to running them. (But we all know that won't happen…, right?)