The Best White Water Rafting in Colorado

The Aspire Team
May 16, 2023

That’s right folks! The best white water rafting in Colorado isn’t on the river you’d think. But before we dig into where it is, we have to ask… Doesn’t our title give off country song vibes?  

Cold beers in the ice chest and a paddle in my hand
Well, I couldn’t be a happier man
Sun shining, river rising
Rough waters rage ahead
But we don’t let it rock the boat, no
We don’t let it rock the boat

No? Just us? Anyway… for most of us, the first waterway that comes to mind in Colorado would of course be the Colorado River.

That makes a ton of sense! It shares a name with The Centennial State, after all.

It also carved out the Grand Canyon, passes through 11 National Parks, and is probably the second most-famous river in the country after The Big Muddy (Mississippi River y’all). And it does indeed have some damn fine rapids! But it’s not the best white water rafting in Colorado.

Nope! The finest rafting in Colorado is undoubtedly found shooting through Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River. Why? Picture this…

Your Day White Water Rafting Through Browns Canyon

Private boat white water rafting with guide on the Arkansas river
Rafters enjoy the Arkansas River on a private boat

Your day begins with a lovely ride to the river. Your driver is friendly and knowledgeable. You arrive at the drop zone and meet your guide. He’s a bit of a wild man. He walks you through a safety talk and goes over the basics of paddling.

Then, you haul your boat down to the water and hop in. Anticipation builds. The first couple of miles are mellow river, mild ripples. You learn the lingo, figure out how to work together as a team to get the raft moving in the right direction.

You pass by rainbow rock and other volcanic rock formations, remnants of an ancient eruption. Ruby Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain loom overhead.

Sharp rocks give way to smooth granite as you enter the canyon. Here come your rapids. First, Pinball. Then, a local favorite — Zoom Flume. Everyone makes it through, but barely. You’re wet, but laughing. Close one!

The river calms again for a stretch. Take a moment. Look around and find yourself in awe of your surroundings.

Woman relaxing with a drink on the Arkansas river
On a private rafting tour, you get to choose when to take a break

You’ll often see bighorn sheep scaling the hillsides. Mule deer frequent the riverbanks. A golden eagle, peregrine falcon, or a red tail hawk may circle overhead as soaring 14ers of the Sawatch Range loom above, catching sunlight, seemingly illuminating the valley. Here you’ll also find the highest concentration of mountain lions in the state, You’re not likely to see one, but they’re out there. Watching.

Your guide finds you a rock to leap into the chilly water. The group gets hungry. You find an open sandy beach in the canyon for lunch. Then, you’re back in.

Rafters in Colorado getting soaked in white water rapids
Rafters getting soaked in rapids on the Arkansas

The river gets louder ahead. Numerous Class IV+ rapids coming up with names like Widowmaker and Seidel’s Suck Hole. Then, you’re in it. Rocking and rolling. Jostling through the bumps and swells, paddling like hell. Soaked, but loving it.

High-fives and paddle bumps. You made it. Who’s got the first round?

Or, something like that…

Browns Canyon White Water Rafting Tours

A guide jumps over rocks with paddles for rafting
Our guides Go All Out to give you an excellent day on the river

Sure, we jazzed it up a bit, but there truly is something special about Browns Canyon white water rafting. The area is so gorgeous it was designated as a National Monument in 2015.

This stretch of river is so fun that it is regarded as one of the best white water rafting sections in the world, not just Colorado. To get the most out of your experience, you’ll want a guide that knows the river. Who can point out wildlife, name peaks, give you some history, and most of all, get you down the river safely.

At Aspire, our guides are career rafters who are in tune with the river and familiar with the run. They live for this. They’ll make your experience everything you’re hoping for — good, wet, fun.

Plus, we only offer private rafting tours, which means you bring your group rather than hop in with people you just met. It’s truly a memorable experience that you and yours will talk about for the rest of your lives.

Aspire written in the sand on the river's edge
We live for this. Come enjoy the water with Aspire!

Whether you seek a mellow river float or want to rip the rapids, our private, curated white water rafting tours are sure to offer the best option for your group. We’ll even pick you up, drop you off, provide lunch, and gear you up with everything you need.

We’re on the water every Thursday through Sunday from mid-June to mid-August. There’s no real set itinerary beyond your pick-up time — we’ll hit the river and eat when we’re hungry at a spot that looks nice. Yes, you’re going to get wet. Experience your primal and hop in before the season ends!

So… who’s ready for the water ride of a lifetime?


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