Are you and your family looking for a somewhat outside-the box vacation idea? Does sitting by the pool watching your kids splash around while you’re on babysitting duty sound a bit dull? If so, whitewater rafting may be the vacation activity you never knew you needed.

Whitewater rafting is excellent for families who want an action-packed, once-in-a-lifetime type of vacation, and as with all vacation ideas, it requires a bit of planning.

Because conditions for the sport are heavily dependent on the weather, it’s super important to do your research and plan ahead to make sure conditions are suitable for the type of rafting experience you’d like to have.

When Is It Best to Go Rafting?

Rafting season typically runs roughly from April until October in Colorado, but within that time-frame conditions may vary drastically depending on the snow pack for that year, as well as other variables.

Answering a few key questions can help you better decide when to plan your vacation. For starters, what “class” of whitewater do you want to raft? Rivers are rated on a scale of class I to class VI – class I being the least challenging, and class VI being the most (and is considered commercially un-raftable).

Also, rivers may change class depending on the time of year, so knowing what type of whitewater you want to raft will be key upon deciding when to go. The general weather and tourist conditions may also affect your decision, so read ahead to get a better idea of what to expect!

  • Early Season: Lasting from May to June, early season on the Colorado River offers cooler weather, high water, and faster rapids. For many, high water is considered the best time to go rafting as it offers big waves, large hydraulics, and a swift current. Because of the fast nature of the rapids there may be a few age restrictions during this time. Check with the tour company first before booking your vacation, just to be sure.

    One great option for early season rafting is Colorado Whitewater Rafting’s Double Shoshone Rafting Trip, which offers class III and class IV rapids. This trip includes a pass through the Baptism, Tuttle's Tumble, Tombstone, Wall, and Maneater rapids, not once – but twice! This trip has a minimum age limit of five, and embarks at 1 pm or 1:30 pm in the early season.
  • Mid-Season: Mid-season is between July and August and offers rafters warmer summer temperatures and medium water levels. These are great flows for groups, beginners, and families with children, and also offers rafters and opportunity to ride more advanced sections of rivers that may be closed off during high season. Keep in mind that this is peak tourist season, so if you’re trying to beat the crowds it may be best to come earlier or later.

    A great tour to take during this time may be Colorado Whitewater Rafting’s half-day tour on the Shoshone, which is their most popular option. This three-hour trip is considered class III to class IV, and takes rafters on a three hour long journey down the Shoshone, even stopping at some natural hot springs along the way.
  • Late Season: Late season rafting is in September and offers warm weather, lower crowds, and lower water conditions. There are very low technical conditions during this time of year, and it is also a great time to see wildlife!

    A great trip for late season is the short and mild rafting trip, which is ideal for families with young children under the age of five or under 50 pounds. This trip offers a fun, scenic float and lasts 1 ½ to two hours on the Colorado River.

Getting to Glenwood Springs

If you are coming from Interstate 70, take Exit #114 – West Glenwood then take the round-a-bout to Midland Ave southbound. You will cross the river and make an immediate left on Devereux Rd at the Harley Davidson dealership. The facilities will be 0.4 miles down on the right. It is best to avoid exit 116 as traffic can sometimes cause extended slowdowns along this route.

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