The Best Arkansas River Rafting

The Best Arkansas River Rafting

While things can get pretty chilly during the winter around the Arkansas River, once summer rolls around, the weather is beautiful. Those long sunny days are perfectly spent out on the river and rafting is definitely one of the most well-loved pastimes here. 

If you’re keen to get out onto the water for some adventure then you’ll find lots of places that offer river rafting. The Arkansas River boasts some excellent rapids and makes for an ideal day out with family and friends. 

The Best Places For Rafting On The Arkansas River

No matter where you’re based along the Arkansas River, you’re sure to find easy access to rafting. 

This huge river runs from Arkansas right up into the Sawatch range of the Rockies and spans an enormous 1460 miles. 

Here in Colorado, there are more than 360 miles of Arkansas River to enjoy so let’s take a look at some of the best spots for rafting. 

Arkansas River Tours

Hailed as one of the best river tour companies in the area, Arkansas River Tours uses more than 100 miles of this stunning river for adventures that suit everyone. 

If you’re totally new to rafting and want something a little more relaxed then the river floats are the perfect introduction. However, if you’re more of a wild adventurer then some of the extreme white water rafting tours will be right up your street. In particular the Royal Gorge trips are excellent and range from class II to class IV rapids

The Bighorn Sheep Canyon Rafting Excursion is a great choice for people who are new to the activity but don’t want to start off slowly. You’ll still get to experience some pretty serious rapids but all under the instruction of an experienced tutor. Plus, there’s some great wildlife spots along the way. 

River Runners

With four locations along the Arkansas River, River Runners is a great choice no matter what your level of experience. 

For those with a real taste for a challenge, the Pine Creek class V rapids sit on the steepest point of the river and certainly make for a memorable adventure. 

Of course, there will be those of you that want something a little more serene and that can be found with the Browns Canyon rafting trip which takes things down a notch to class III. This is a brilliant choice for families and has proven popular time after time. 

River Runners also offer multi day rafting trips for groups of six or more and all of your food is included in the cost. You can even rent camping equipment for a small additional fee of $25 per person. 

Echo Canyon River Expeditions

I’ve chosen Echo Canyon River Expeditions because I think it’s one of the best Arkansas River rafting options for families. Getting out onto the water is a great opportunity to make memories with those you love and Echo Canyon specializes in family trips. 

You can choose from half or full day trips and all your food and equipment is included in the price. What really caught my attention was that the family trips take place on rapids between class I and class III so there’s something for every level of experience without having to take it to the max. 

If you think that you’ll still have some energy left in you after all that rafting then why not opt for one of the rafting packages? These include a rafting trip and can be coupled with other activities such as ziplines and train rides.

What’s more, if there are several activities from Echo Canyon that take your fancy, there’s even onsite lodging and glamping so you can really make a weekend of it.

Tips When Rafting On The Arkansas River

It’s always an enjoyable day out when rafting on the Arkansas River but without a good amount of common sense and following some safety tips, this fun activity can quickly go south. 

It’s no joke when I say that rafting can be dangerous when it isn’t done properly so I urge you to always play it safe. The following tips should help. 

  • Never bite off more than you can chew! If you’re a beginner then don’t attempt something that even an advanced river rafter would struggle with. You’re not out to impress anyone and your safety is the most important thing. 
  • Always use a reputable rafting company with instructors that are fully qualified and know what they’re doing. If you are an advanced river rafter and intend to go out alone, always let someone know where you are and how long you plan to be out on the water. 
  • Make sure to always wear appropriate rafting gear including a life jacket which should be correctly buckled and fitted. A helmet is also a must even if you’re a pro; the importance of head protection cannot be understated. 
  • You’ll get a safety talk from your instructor before heading onto the water. Pay close attention to what commands they’ll use, what to do in an emergency, and other tips that could save your life!
  • If you happen to fall out of the boat, the safest thing to do is to grab onto it or, if you’re slightly further away, swim back to the boat. If the boat is too far, then you’ll need to look for other options but your instructor will discuss this with you on the day. 

I’ve Never River Rafted Before, Can I Still Take Part?

Getting out on the river for the first time can be super exciting but, for many people, it can feel intimidating. 

That’s totally normal and even to be expected but that doesn’t mean that you can join in the fun. 

Of course, I’d always advise paying attention to the safety tips I have discussed in the previous section; they’re designed to make your day as safe and enjoyable as possible. But even if you’re a total newbie, there’s still a lot to get excited about. 

Many of the river outfitters offer lessons that cater to all skill levels; even total beginners. So don’t let your lack of experience put you off. We all have to start somewhere and you never know, this could be the beginning of a favorite new pastime!


Arkansas River offers a thrilling and unforgettable rafting experience for adventurers of all levels.

From the exhilarating rapids of Royal Gorge to the scenic beauty of Browns Canyon, there’s something for everyone along this majestic river. With reputable outfitters like Arkansas River Tours, River Runners, and Echo Canyon River Expeditions, safety and enjoyment are always top priorities.

Whether you’re a seasoned rafter or a first-time adventurer, the Arkansas River welcomes you to embark on an unforgettable journey filled with excitement, stunning scenery, and cherished memories.

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