Kayaking in Cimarron Hills

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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.

41746 W US Highway 50
Canon City,
CO
US

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.

113 N Railroad St
Buena Vista,
CO
US

Surrounded by lush alpine scenery and rushing rivers banked by boulders, brush, and thicket, rafters ride the rapids during Performance Tours' half-day, full-day, and multi-day trips. The company requires their guides to complete training beyond the state's requirements, ensuring a crew with exceptional rafting prowess in addition to a special affinity for the Arkansas, Clear Creek, Blue, and Colorado Rivers. During tours, groups take in the scenery, spotting wildlife including bighorn sheep, while navigating river regions with names such as "Devil's Punchbowl". Now with more than 25 years' experience taming the bucking local waterways, the team can craft experiences ideal for families and rookie rafters, as well as the seasoned boater looking for a challenge and an impressive story to tell their salmon buddies.

115 Gregg Drive
Buena Vista,
CO
US

The whitewater rafting wizards and zip-line zealots at Royal Gorge safely chaperone brave outdoorsmen and women along rushing rapids and adrenaline-fueled zip-line courses. With at least four years of experience buckled behind their life preservers, expert guides provide knowledge and know-how to novice and seasoned rafters. Half-day rafting trips depart daily at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for 10-mile adventures down liquid-filled crevices lined with 1,200-feet-tall cliff faces and underneath one of the world's highest suspension bridges. Paddlers discipline class-three, -four, and -five currents for tormenting their self-bailing vessels and gossiping about them to babbling brooks. Royal Gorge provides wetsuits, helmets, life jackets, splash-jackets, and river boots for safe trips downstream, as well as a safety kayaker to help rafts through intense stretches and keep an eye out for creekside tollbooths.

45045 W US Highway 50
Canon City,
CO
US

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.

327 East Main Street
Buena Vista,
CO
US

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.

24070 County Road 301
Buena Vista,
CO
US