Whitewater Rafting & Zipline Questions

Answers for Planning Your Vacation

Why should you choose Royal Gorge Rafting


All of our Royal Gorge raft guides are required to have a minimum of 4 seasons or 2000 river miles of white water experience (most exceeding 10 years) to ensure that we offer the finest experience on and off the river. We have started training guides for the more moderate section of river - The Bighorn Sheep Canyon but prior to hiring them we ensure they fit in with our experienced staff and are above average throughout the training process.


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. FREE USE OF ALL GEAR

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. SIZE MATTERS

Because we are a smaller outfitter and focused on one base operation we do not need to hire 40+ river guides every year which allows us to hire the finest professional guides around. We avoid 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.

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.

Although each rapid is classified by the ease of passage you should know that the hazards are the same in any river with moving water. The hazards are the same. An easier class only specifies the ease of passage regard to the lesser likelihood of incidents occurring.

The higher classification of rapid doesn't correlate to the level of fun, it relates to greater challenges and greater likelihood of potential risks involved occurring.

Read more about white water hazards, characteristics, and rapids

Is experience required

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.

Which 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).

The Full-Day Royal Gorge

This is an incredible raft trip which is 20 miles long and is one of the most popular whitewater trips 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 your guides and kayakers.

After lunch we drop into the heart of the Royal Gorge running 10 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).

When is the best time to go rafting


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.

Do I have to know how to swim

We offer trips to suit every individuals needs. Swimming is not a necessary requirement, though there is always a chance a participant can come out their raft at any time. For this reason we ask that you inform us while making your reservation if you are a non swimmer. During high water levels through the Royal Gorge it is recommended that you have swimming experience to be able to aid in your own rescue should you come out of your raft unexpectedly.

We issue every guest a Type 5 U.S. Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD, Life Jacket). We also begin each trip with a thorough pre trip safety orientation to inform you of some of the hazards that can be encountered on and off of the river.

Royal Gorge Rafting provides additional assistance for our guests in the form of kayak support.<(INSERT LINK) We were the first company to offer this service on the Arkansas River and remain at the forefront of finding new ways to make your rafting trip a safe and enjoyable adventure.

Do I need experience

The simple answer is no. The overwhelming majority of people who go whitewater rafting or zip lining in Colorado are first timers. It is natural to feel apprehensive about whitewater rafting for the first time or if you have a fear of heights zip lining. For this reason we begin every trip with a safety orientation to inform you of the inherent risks encountered while rafting or zip lining and what to do in dealing with these rare situations should they occur.

What should I bring

We always provide our guest with FREE USE of wetsuits, river boots and splash jackets. These are always available and, when weather conditions warrant, required. The type of clothing that you should wear for whitewater rafting is equivalent to what you would wear to a beach. Examples of acceptable clothing include:

For White Water Rafting

• Quick Drying Shorts • Board Shorts • Bathing Suit • Secure footwear (No Crocs or flip-flops please.) • Synthetic or Polyester t-shirt

We strongly recommend you do not wear cotton clothing on your river trip (denim jeans, cotton t-shirts, hoodies, etc.). This is due to the fact that cotton becomes extremely heavy and loses its ability to keep you warm when wet.

Some other items you may bring with you:

• Water Bottle • Sunscreen • Sunglasses (we recommend a retaining strap) • Hat • Light weight fleece jacket (if the forecast calls for colder weather)

(Pro Tip: Avoid rubbing sunscreen on your forehead. You will be wearing a helmet that will cover your head and sunscreen put on your forehead can run into your eyes creating an uncomfortable burn in your eyes.)

For Zip Lining

• Close toed shoes i.e. hiking boots or sneakers • Rain Jacket or Ski Jacket (winter) (weather dependent) • Sunglasses (optional) • Sunscreen • Water bottle that secures to your person or backpack

Large backpacks are cumbersome and are not necessary for zip lining - A small camel back or water pack is perfect although we do supply water on tour.

What if it is raining or snowing

We run every trip rain or shine. In the rare occurrence that the weather becomes too extreme, we reserve the right to alter or cancel trips with your safety in mind. For Zip Line tours: We can still zip if it is snowing. If it gets to be too deep we will reschedule or raincheck the tour.

What if I have never been before


The majority of our participants have never been on a zip line course before. Your guides will teach a basic orientation and training session before we embark out to the actual course and may teach you additional skills as the tour progresses. The training “Ground School” session includes a short zip just a few feet off the ground, so you should be more comfortable with what it feels like to be online before you get out onto the actual course.


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 river 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.

Should I tip my guide

Our guides aim to individualize each trip specific to the group to ensure you come away with a first rate experience. If you feel your guide has provided you with professional service then a gratuity is a great way to express your appreciation.

Can we request a guide

You can definitely request a guide. Just let our reservationist's know when you call. If you book online please call us to add your guide request to your reservation.
We can never guarantee that your guide will be available but we will do our best.

Are there taxes or fees on your trips

We have both land use access fees and Colorado State parks fees as we raft within Colorado’s largest State park known as the Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area. This Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area stretches approx. 120 miles from Granite, Colorado to Pueblo, Colorado. With many areas managed and leased from the BLM by Colorado State Parks. All fees are added to the price of the trip and are not exempt.

Taxes are levied on Vacation Rentals, Retail sales items, Photo purchases, or food items at our restaurant.

Other fees relate to our cancellation policies. $10 change fee, $15 cancellation fee. You can read more about our cancellation policies below.

Cancellation polices


  • All current cancellation policies are listed below, please note that policies may change over time.


  • All current cancellation policies are listed below, please note that policies may change over time.


  • All current cancellation policies are listed below, please note that policies may change over time.


    We offer a Worry Free Cancellation on our rafting & zip line tours which is the best option. This policy is default to any rafting or zip line reservation although you may opt out of it at the time of your reservation online or over the phone when speaking with our service representatives.

    WORRY-FREE CANCELLATION POLICIES, PROCEDURES AGREEMENT The Worry-Free Cancellations option allows you to cancel or reschedule with very few limitations. The WFC is provided via an optional 10% fee at time of reservation. The WFC entitles you to a 100% refund - less the 10% WFC fee. Cancelations must be made before 1 pm (Colorado Mountain time) the day before your activity. The 10% WFC fee is non refundable. With the WFC any activity canceled after the deadline will still entitle you to a rain check valid for the rest of the season. This is provided via a transferable gift certificate. Gift certificates and refunds are only applicable to activities operated by Royal Gorge Rafting & Zip Line Tours and does not apply to 3rd party reservations. With the WFC late arrivals will be scheduled to the next available trip. If you are not able to take our next available trip or a trip is unavailable, your reservation will be converted to a transferable gift certificate that is valid for the rest of the season. No shows are not eligible for refunds. If you opt out of the 10% worry-free cancellation fee, your reservation is then subject to our standard cancellation policy below. *We understand and will make exceptions to either policy for extenuating circumstances; accidents, documented illnesses, tragic events, etc. Notification must be made within reasonable time after an incident occurs. Supporting, legitimate documentation will be requested on your behalf as good will. CONFIRMATION By making a deposit to Royal Gorge Rafting & Zip Line Tours you are stating that you understand, acknowledge and agree to our terms & policies listed above. We truly appreciate you choosing Royal Gorge Rafting, Zip Line Tours & Vacation Rentals.

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