Day On The Upper Colorado River

The Ultimate, Iconic, Colorado Rafting Adventure

Experience a Full Day to the Glorious Upper Colorado River

Pack a lunch or snacks, and begin your drive to our boathouse past the beautiful rural heartland of northern Colorado. Whether you come from Winter Park / Granby, or from the Silverthorne / Dillon / Frisco / Breckenridge area, you pass rural Colorado with its towns incorporated in the 1800s, mining and cabins in ruins, modern ranches with robust cows and horses, and sweeping pasturelands and farms. In the background rise the dramatic, snow-dusted mountains you’ll want to hike on another day of your visit. From the south you drive beside a stretch of the lovely Blue River and past reservoirs where people boat, fish, and camp.

Getting To The Boat House at Rancho Del Rio

Turn onto the Trough Road, (Hwy 1,) and wind up and down a well-maintained gravel highway. All around you are emerald green ranches and farms, quaking aspens, pines, fascinating rock bands, and wildlife including moose, deer, and bald eagles. Take a sharp turn and pull over at a paved overlook. Below you spreads your first glimpse of the mighty Colorado River valley. The river is moving more slowly now after its hair-raising class V rapids drop through the Gore Canyon. 

Drive on to lively Rancho Del Rio, about fifteen minutes further down the Trough Road. A private holding surrounded by BLM lands, Rancho has amenities like a couple of small stores where you can pick up a few last minute items, a BBQ restaurant, and picnic tables besides the boat launch. Head over to Colorado Rafting Company’s boathouse and check in. Your guides will introduce themselves, give a quick safety presentation, get you outfitted with splash gear if appropriate, and take you to the put in with rafts in tow.

Depending on your timing, you can picnic before the tour, or you can leave your food behind at our boathouse to enjoy after the adventure.

A Day On The Upper Colorado River

Whitewater Rafting on The Upper Colorado River

Hitting The River At Pumphouse & Scenic Float To Start

The Pumphouse put-in is a busy place with bathrooms, ample parking, and campsites. Help the guides bring the rafts, kayaks, or paddle boards down to the put-in, and you’ll hop in and experience your first small drop right away. Relax in a slow-moving, wide-open stretch where you’ll often see people fishing, and where you’ll learn how to paddle and follow instructions from your guide so that your group forms a team of paddlers.

Navigating Rapids In The Canyon

The canyon narrows suddenly, and you shoot into your first rapids. Pay attention to your guide’s instructions! Needle’s Eye can be a tight squeeze at certain flows, and is always exciting. Past the big rapid, you flow through riffles and smaller rapids, and then the canyon opens up again to inholdings of lush green farms alternating with forested public lands. On shore you spot public campgrounds marked by stakes that are first come first serve. They’re usually named after an unusual aspect of their site, like an old mining cabin or a tall ponderosa tree. There are no amenities at the campsites, and everything has to be carried in and out.

Paddling Through Rapid On The Colorado River

Hot Springs and Cliff Jumping On The Colorado River

Radium Hot Springs & Cliff Jumping!

You float past a rock wall jutting out over the river where you may see a line of youths building up the courage to jump off a high cliff into the water. Although jumping is never recommended because we never know what is below the surface of a wild river, brave souls have been leaping off this particular spot for years. Just beyond this, we pull over on river left and take a dip in the natural hot springs that flow into the river. Stacked rocks create a pool that captures the warm water and holds it before it trickles into the river. Enjoy a soothing dip in the clear water, and once you’ve warmed up, get back into your raft and head to Radium.

Yarmony Rapids

Radium is another take-out and put-in with amenities and a well developed boat ramp courtesy of the BLM. If your adventure includes this piece, float on past, and soon the canyon narrows again, and you’re in the rushing, long rapid flows of Yarmony Rapids. Yarmony is a long, exciting set of rapids where paddle coordination is essential for avoiding low rocks scattered across the riverbed. Once you’re through Yarmony, you can kick back, enjoy the sun, and float back to Rancho past grassy, mid-river islands.

Floating Down the Upper Colorado River
State Bridge On The Upper Colorado

State Bridge Put In/Take Out

Sometimes, depending on the time of day and river flows, we begin at Rancho and float to the State Bridge take-out. In this case you float through a scenic canyon with towering pine trees and interesting rock formations. Paddle through sets of rolling rapids that can be gentle or more demanding depending on flows. The State Bridge take-out is smaller, but, again, the BLM provides amenities. Help the guides load the rafts, hop into our van, and enjoy an aerial view of the river below that you just paddled as you are driven back to Rancho.

Wrapping Up A Day On The River

Once back at Rancho, dry off, clean up, and enjoy a beer, or some ice cream from the little shop near the ramp. Some nights Rancho hosts live music or other events – you just can’t guess what will be happening at Rancho at any given time. 

If you’d like to make an overnight of it, we’ll book you a campsite at Rancho and you’ll stay. There’re toilets and a shop where you can pick up a few souvenirs or light foods. If you’re in luck, the BBQ restaurant will be open, and you can dine outside at any of the picnic tables, including our private one under our shelter cover.

The light fades, and a glorious red-gold sunset lights up snow-tipped Colorado peaks before a dark sky bursts into limitless points of light overhead. The ultimate, iconic, Colorado adventure. 

Camping After Rafting on the Upper Colorado River

Colorado Rafting Company provides half day, full day, and overnight guided rafting trips on the Upper Colorado River daily during the summer months. Book directly online or call us today to reserve your rafting adventure on the Upper Colorado River.