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royal gorge rafting
royal gorge

Rafting In Colorado

Nobody likes a know it all until your planning a vacation. This page will help you plan your Colorado Rafting or Zip Line adventure and help answer common questions about Rafting in Colorado or our Colorado Rafting Packages, Zip Line Tours, or Vacation Rental accommodations. You will also find links to local hotels or camping nearby. If you need further assistance about Colorado river rafting or Zip Line Tours or Colorado Vacation Rentals please call: (719) 275 7238


Why should I choose Royal Gorge Rafting?

All of our Royal Gorge Rafting guides are required to have a minimum of 4 years whitewater experience (most exceeding 10 years) to ensure that we offer the finest experience on and off the river.

We are the only company to provide kayak support on every Royal Gorge trip and during high water on the Bighorn Sheep Canyon. A priceless addition to your experience while Rafting in Colorado!

We are the only company to offer in house photo services. Our kayak photographers shoot your entire trip through the Royal Gorge and via shuttle on the Bighorn Sheep Canyon. This allows us to shoot your entire days adventure! Often times you will leave with hundreds of photos at a rate that beats the other companies 6 photos from one location. This is a very professional customized service that you will find nowhere else rafting in Colorado.

Royal Gorge Rafting offers free use of all river gear including wet-suits, booties and splash tops. Although not all companies offer free gear use, we feel as though it is an essential option for both your safety and comfort. Not only is the gear free, it is all top of the line! (Royal Gorge Rafting requires helmets on all stretches of river although in areas your guide may let you take them off).

We are the only full service Colorado Vacation Destination outfitter in our region. We offer World Class White Water Rafting, The Nations best zip line tours - 2 courses! 3 affordable Vacation Rentals and a restaurant all based at one location. Other companies offer packages but you have to travel for multiple hours to make them happen.

Because we are a smaller outfitter we do not need to hire 40+ river guides every year which allows us to hire the finest professional guides around, not 1st year guides that treat the serious nature of white water rafting as a "summer camp" job. Royal Gorge Rafting offers a number of exclusive trips and packages to choose from. The Water 2 Wine Heli tour, Our Rafting & Zip Line Combinations, All Inclusive packages and our 1/2 day & full day rafting adventures and much more!

After each trip a professional & entertaining slide show of your experience is presented by your personal photographer within the Whitewater Bar & Grill.

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How are rapids classified?

Classification of Rapids:

Class I - Slow, flat, moving water with few obstacles.

Class II - Small waves and usually avoidable obstacles.

Class III - Swift moving current with large irregular waves, white water obstructions and rocks that need to be maneuvered around and may not be easily missed.

Class IV - Swift water with large waves and whitewater "holes" that may be unavoidable.

Class V - Swift continuous water with large irregular waves and holes, unavoidable drops and waves that require complex maneuvering.

Class VI - these runs have almost never been attempted and often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictably and danger, for teams of experts only, at favorable water levels. After a class VI rapids have been run many times, it's rating may be changed to a class 5+ rating.

More information on Rapids

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Do I have to know how to swim?

We have a trip suitable to meet everybody's needs. Please inform us while making your reservation if you are a non swimmer as well as when you arrive to Royal Gorge Rafting.

We issue Type 5 Personal Flotation Devices. During high water through the Royal Gorge it is recommended that you have swimming experience to be able to aid in your own rescue should you enter the river unexpectedly.

Every trip is preceded with a thorough pre trip orientation speech to better prepare you for incidents that may be encountered on and off the river.

Royal Gorge Rafting provides extra support on all Royal Gorge Rafting trips via kayak support as well as shore support in different areas of the Royal Gorge depending upon the varied water levels.

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Do I need experience for rafting in Colorado?

No, the majority of people who go rafting in Colorado are first time rafters. Prior to every trip you are given a thorough river orientation to inform you of the possible hazards encountered white water rafting.

When you begin the trip each guide will go over paddle instructions for you so you know exactly what needs to be done to maneuver your raft down river. It is natural to be apprehensive about whitewater rafting in Colorado but once you experience the thrill it will become addictive and an unforgettable experience!

Statistically there are more people injured en route to a rafting outfitters office then there are river rafting.

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Which rafting trip should we choose?

Bighorn Sheep Canyon (Easiest) If it is your first time rafting or your are experienced and you are not looking for the most challenging rapids we recommend our Bighorn Sheep Canyon trip which consists mostly of class III whitewater rapids. The half-day Bighorn trip is 10 miles long and will give you several exciting rapids to run, it is great for the whole group no matter your age or experience. The full-day Bighorn trip is 20 miles in length and contains calming stretches of river as well as many exciting rapids. You will have all day to enjoy the scenery, relax, and run world class whitewater rapids. All full day trips include a delicious, healthy, well prepared riverside lunch (from our own Whitewater Bar & Grill). (recommended minimum weight is 45-50 pounds).

Royal Gorge (More Challenging) If you are an experienced rafter or it is your first time rafting and you are looking for a more challenging, exciting and demanding stretch of whitewater, we recommend you run the Royal Gorge. This is our most popular stretch of river with about 80% of our clientele and is our expertise!

The half-day Royal Gorge trip is 10 miles in length and is one of the best whitewater runs in the world! Class III/IV/V (3,4,5) (During highest water flows, typically mid June we recommend prior whitewater experience but not mandatory. Minimum age is 12 but will depend on water levels).

Royal Gorge History

The Full-Day Royal Gorge trip is 20 miles long and is one of the most popular whitewater destinations in the U.S.

You will begin the day running 10 miles of Class III/IV (3,4) Rapids, then, relax and refuel during your delicious riverside lunch prepared by the White Water Bar & Grill.

After lunch we drop into the heart of the Royal Gorge running 12 miles of mostly continuous Class III/IV/V (3,4,5) whitewater rapids in one of the worlds most beautiful and awe inspiring locations. At high water (Mid June to July) Good physical conditioning as well as swimming ability is recommended for all trips through the Royal Gorge (recommended minimum age is 12 years old or higher depending upon water level).

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When is the best time for Rafting in Colorado?

Our trips run from early April to mid September and we consider these months to be the best. Typically April and early May water levels are lower and begin to rise into the middle of May.

As the water gets higher in volume typically from late May through June and into July the water gets swifter and rapids become larger creating some of the best whitewater in the world. In late July through August & September the air temperatures rise and the water slowly drops in volume usually ending its run off in the middle of September. All of these months provide an excellent opportunity to get into world class whitewater combined with some of the most amazing scenery seen on any river trip!

In the rare event that sections become un-runnable we will switch the location of the trip to a comparable section of whitewater. Earlier summer months tend to be in the 70s to 80s with occasional and often refreshing rain showers and later summer months can reach into the high 90s and are typically drier months.

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What should we bring?

The best attire for rafting in Colorado is equivalent to beach wear. quick drying Shorts or a bathing suit and polyester or synthetic t-shirt, sunscreen, sunglasses, a retainer strap for your glasses and bottled water are recommended, if you have a light weight fleece top it is also recommended for river use in case it gets chilly. (All of which we sell in our gift shop, except for shorts).

We provide free wetsuits, splash-tops and river boots which are well suited for high water and chilly days. After the trip you will want to have a dry change of clothes. (Cotton or acrylic clothing is not suitable for river use except for on hot days.)

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Do you raft if it's raining?

We run all trips rain or shine. In the event that the weather may be too extreme we reserve the right to alter or cancel our trips with our and your safety in mind. Often rafting in the rain adds to the element of excitement!

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What about medical conditions?

If you are questioning going rafting in Colorado because of a medical situation, we suggest you consult with your family physician for medical approval before your trip. Rafting is not recommended for persons with the following conditions: heart or lung problems, obesity or osteoporosis.

Please use your common sense in evaluating your physical condition. Any medical condition or physical disability must be reported when reservations are made. If medications are required, bring them along and your guide will store them for you. Women who are pregnant are not allowed to participate in our raft trips, but are welcome to relax and enjoy an afternoon at the Whitewater Bar & Grill.

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How many people fit in a raft?

A maximum of eight people, but we prefer seven plus one guide, unless your group includes smaller children or adults and in that case 8 people will be suitable.

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Do your guides work for gratuities?

Gratuities are greatly appreciated only if you feel your guide has provided you with professional, outstanding service, A tip is a great way to express your appreciation.

Often we are asked "What is a good tip for our the guide?"

Common gratuities range from $5 to $20 per person for a half day or full day trips.

Of course ultimately the amount of a gratuity for your guide is your decision.

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What about singles, couples, or solo boat trips?

Just call our office and we'll make arrangements to include you with other single bookings or small groups. Everyone can experience the excitement of whitewater rafting with or without a group.

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Can I bring a camera white water rafting?

A waterproof camera is a good option for you if you would like to shoot your own photos. It is important that you ask your guide when it is a good time to take a pictures. (We do sell cameras within our gift shop)

Royal Gorge Rafting is the only company that provides an exclusive professional photographer for every white water raft trip, who will be taking your pictures from the beginning of your adventure to the end. We then present an entertaining slide show in the White Water Bar & Grill after every trip, Often taking more than 100+ pictures of your day!

You are given the option to purchase your entire day in pictures on one cd. A fun way to remember your trip with Royal Gorge Rafting and share your pictures with others!

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Where is Royal Gorge Rafting in Colorado?

Royal Gorge Rafting is 7 miles west of Canon City on U.S. Highway 50. Only 2 hours south of Denver and just 1 hour southwest of Colorado Springs. 45 minutes west of Pueblo.

Click for directions

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What type of food is offered?

All of our meals are prepared in our very own Whitewater Bar & Grill. Prepared in a commercial kitchen environment, some food such as fruits or vegetables may be prepared on site at our riverside location. We offer lunch and dinner both on and off the river.

A typical full day lunch includes a delicious deli style "grinder" sandwich prepared with fresh local deli meats. Seasonal often organic fresh fruits, chips, fresh local salsa, fresh vegetables, dips such as hummus and ranch, Chocolate covered strawberries, and cold beverages.

Because we have our own restaurant we are able to serve a wide variety of freshly prepared meals.


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Oar Boat compared to a Paddle Boat?

A paddle boat is controlled by the crew as your guide calls out commands. The crew maneuvers the raft down river. Crew participation in the rapids is elemental.

If you prefer to hold on and relax, the oar boat raft is for you. All oar boats will have paddles on them so guests and children may participate if they choose to while the guide controls the raft with his/her oars.

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Is the rafting trip all white water?

No. The Arkansas River is a "pool and drop" river, which means that stretches of exciting whitewater are divided by calmer sections of river.

An exception is at extremely high water levels in the Royal Gorge. In this case we either do not run the Royal Gorge and trips are moved to a comparable section of river, or we use a very stringent screening of those who may choose to run the river at these higher more demanding water levels.

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How do we get to the river?

We run all shuttles from and returning to our base location.

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What is the minimum age for rafting?

Minimum age is always dependent upon varied water levels, the Childs size and abilities.

Bighorn Sheep Canyon: (children's favorite) This section is more suitable for younger children from ages 5 and up, please note our youth sized PFDs/life jackets are rated to the minimum weight of 50lbs.

Royal Gorge: (our most popular trip) This section is best suited for children 13 and up at moderate flows. This is always dependent upon the current water level. During higher water flow our minimum age is generally 16.

It is always best to call and find out what our current recommendations will be.

719 275 7238 - 719 ARK RAFT

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Is White Water Rafting Safe?

The thrill of whitewater rafting is based upon the variable conditions and inherent risks of the Arkansas River. The higher the class rating and water level, the more challenging it becomes to maneuver through the rapids. This adds a great deal of excitement and naturally adds elemental risk.

Whitewater rafting is an outdoor experience which incorporates all the unpredictable elements of nature. You should always be realistic with your abilities and understand that you are responsible for your decisions in choosing to participate in a white water rafting activity. We take precautions to minimize the risks involved, such as having kayak support in the Royal Gorge and in hiring river guides with a minimum of 4 years for the Royal Gorge section or more. We could never rid of the all the risk involved in rafting.

We do our absolute best to recommend the most suitable trip for your group ultimately upon your arrival and on occasion we may deny access during certain water levels to individuals we may feel are unprepared for the challenge ahead.

All RGR guides are certified in CPR, First Aid and white water rescue techniques. Most have credentials that exceed those required by the state.

Alcohol or drugs are never permitted or tolerated before or during the trip.
Individuals suspected of not abiding by these rules will not be allowed to participate.

Statistically speaking, more people are injured driving to a rafting outfitters office than have ever been injured rafting. "Buckle up!"

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What is the current water level?

The link below will take you to the gauge for the Arkansas River at Parkdale which is for the section of river we primarily raft and kayak.

This section of river or the Royal Gorge Region always benefits from higher water flows and warmer water, opposed to Browns Canyon.

Link: to current water level.

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What is the current Snowpack?

Our winter snow pack can be found in the link below.

To estimate the average run off for the Arkansas River you need to look at 3 particular gauges. These gauges are the: Brumley, Fremont Pass & Porphyry Creek. The first number in the Basin Index (131) in this exam le is the more important number as this number indicates the amount of water content or percentage of water held in the snowpack. The second Basin Index number is the average depth. To find the Arkansas River's run off figure you will need to count Fremont Pass & Brumley gauges twice and Porphyry Creek once. Take the total of these 3 and divide it by 5. That is the total percentage. Easy right?

Link: Current winter snow pack


BRUMLEY ------- 131 ------- 101 (x2)
FREMONT PASS ------- 101 ------- 98 (x2)
PORPHYRY CREEK ------- 112 ------- 111 (X1)
----- -----
Basin Index (%) ------- 115.2 ------- 101.8

Another Indicator for the Arkansas River basin is the FRY-ARK project water which is water diverted the the Eastern slope out of the Colorado River basins drainage. These gauges are the: Ivanhoe, Kiln, Nast Lake, Fremont & Independence Pass gauges. Use these to find the average diverted project water available to the FRY-ARK project water.

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Rafting in Colorado

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Reservations Colorado Rafting



Local accommodations

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Royal Gorge Vacation Rentals Stay at one of 3 affordable luxury vacation rentals just minutes away from from Royal Gorge Rafting & Zip Line Tours. Perfect for groups small & large, wedding parties, corporate retreats, bachelorette parties & family reunions. There is not a better value in the Royal Gorge region compared to hotel / motel / lodging accommodations.

Royal Gorge Campsites & RV Parks:

Prospectors Resort Campground A good option for camping in our region - kid friendly activities.

Mountain View RV Resort A more refined location geared towards a casual camping/RV experience.

Local Hotels:

Nearby hotels in Canon City, Only 8 to 15 miles from our location

Hotels in Colorado Springs, Approx. 1 hour from Royal Gorge Rafting

Hotels in Denver Colorado, Approx. 2 hours from Royal Gorge Rafting


Dunn's Cabins High Mountain cabins in Guffey Colorado appx 30 minutes from our base location.

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Local activities & attractions

Royal Gorge Heli Tours Located at Royal Gorge Rafting & the Whitewater Bar & Grill

Royal Gorge Bridge & Park Located only 5 miles from our base

Royal Gorge Route Railroad Located only 7 miles east of our base

Dunn's Horse & Mule Company High Mountain horse back adventures for all ages!

The Winery @ Holy Cross Abbey 15 miles east of our base and featured in our Water 2 Wine tours!


Attractions & activities near Colorado Springs

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colorado zip line and rafting reservations

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  about royal gorge rafting & zip line tours

Royal Gorge Rafting, Zip line tours, Vacation Rentals & the White Water Bar & Grill, located at 45045 us hwy 50 Canon City Colorado 81212 and 301 Royal Gorge blvd Canon City CO 81212

a full scale resort providing world class colorado white water rafting adventures through the royal gorge and the bighorn sheep | echo canyon of the arkansas river. featuring 2 world class zip line tours totaling 20 zip lines with over 3 miles of zipping! classic or extreme course options. 4 affordable luxury colorado vacation rentals sleeping up to 56 people. also offering unforgettable wedding & event packages, corporate retreat programs & group outings. hosting the white water bar & grill ~ our regions top rated bar & grill featuring sand volley ball, horse-shoes, children's play areas, live music, special events and much more. only 2 hours from denver - 1 hour from colorado springs - one location, 100% fun! a destination for the perfect colorado vacation.

Royal Gorge Rafting || 45045 W US Hwy 50 Canon City, Colorado 81212 || 719 275 7238
Colorado's #1 rafting & zip line tours ~ royal gorge rafting, zip line tours, vacation rentals & the whitewater bar & grill - one location, 100% fun!
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