At CKS - Colorado Kayak Supply, staff members boast years of experience paddling Colorado’s nearby waterways. This savvy means they not only help clients hone in on an ideal kayak or paddleboard for their paddling plans, but can point out prime high alpine lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams that flow within a short drive from the store front. Novice paddlers may be directed toward local lakes or Buena Vista Whitewater Park, with its Class II whitewater rapids and dozens of eddies; more seasoned paddlers track renegade rubber duckies in the Class III–IV whitewaters that course through Browns Canyon.
Whether issuing orders over the sound of roaring rapids or getting soaked by jets of errant river spray, the guides at River Runners all share a common thought: this sure beats sitting in an office. For more than 40 years, they’ve ferried passengers down the Arkansas River on jaunts into Bighorn Sheep Canyon’s class III and IV rapids or the challenging class IV and V rapids churning throughout The Numbers. They also explore the waterways running through the 2,000-foot-deep canyons in Dinosaur National Monument, breezing down the Utah River on one-day jaunts or arguing about whether or not T. rexes could feel love during a five-day exploration of the Yampa River.
An experienced staff of former military personnel, pilots, and fun-loving adventurers at Skydive Colorado strap into tandem harnesses with customers before plunging into 30-second free falls. Staffers may also snap photos or film and keep customers guarded from nesting eagles as they scream into the blue, free-falling and canopy-gliding over the Colorado countryside's hills, mountains, and cliffs. Many of the instructors can also guide visitors through static-line training and skydive licensing.
Stretches of the Arkansas River churn differently as it snakes northwestward through the Rockies. There are Class I rapids throughout, Class III rapids at Bighorn Sheep Canyon, and turbulent Class V rapids at Pine Creek. The experienced guides from Browns Canyon Rafting lead half-day voyages through them all. On overnight trips, they also prepare meals for guests in addition to traversing the waters and reenacting scenes from Mutiny on the Bounty. For solo sailing, the company offers kayak and paddleboard rentals.
With diverse backgrounds ranging from studying extraterrestrial fluvial geomorphology to being born in the jungle of Chitwan National Forest in Nepal, American Adventure Expeditions’ certified guides shepherd rafters of all experience levels down sections of the Arkansas River, navigating rapids of varying intensity and trip lengths. Half-day, full-day, and overnight trips plunge into world-class runs such as The Numbers, an advanced route with powerful Class IV rapids gushing through tight passages and down steep drops, or the more family-friendly Class II and III waters found within Brown’s Canyon for mild bumps and splashing contests with ill-tempered salmon.
Guides also pair up aquatic excursions with other extreme thrills such as mountain biking and zipline tours for combo adventures, or skip the water entirely during land-based adventures such as the Royal Gorge Route Railroad train tour. Additionally, two outposts sit along the river, and offer snacks, restrooms, and picnic areas.
From May to September, experienced guides at Buffalo Joe’s Whitewater Rafting lead tour groups of all levels down the crashing waters of the Arkansas River. As paddlers pass through the picturesque crags of Brown’s Canyon, Royal Gorge, and Wild Horse Canyon, they navigate rapids ranging from gentle splashes to powerful whirlpools, depending on the trip. Families with small kids can relax and admire wildlife as they float down Milk Run, and the class IV and V rapids in the Numbers section of Brown's Canyon challenge more experienced groups. Full-day or overnight expeditions include meals much heartier than standard outdoor fare: paddlers feast on USDA-approved top sirloin steak, a Buffalo Joe’s signature touch.
Buffalo Joe’s Whitewater Rafting also takes water skimmers on inflatable-kayak tours of the river and organizes private, guided fishing trips for fishermen hoping to catch an old boot to match the one they have.