Go with the Flow! Choose the Perfect Raft Trip in a Big Water Year
By: Lauren Swanson
Posted: May 23rd, 2019
Colorado’s celebrated snowpack will soon come off the mountains and fill the rivers with splashy spring whitewater. According to recent predictions, we’re anticipating exciting water levels and some of the biggest flows the Arkansas River has seen in several years — It’s going to be an epic summer for rafting!
Performance Tours Rafting, Breckenridge’s first rafting company, is the most professional and trusted outfitters in Colorado. With more than 32 years of experience and an unsurpassed safety record, we’re experts on helping our guests select the best trip. Whitewater rafting season officially kicks off this week, and we’ve put together a few tips to help guests of all ages, abilities, and experience levels choose the perfect rafting adventure this summer.
Go with a Guide
Choose a licensed outfitter with decades of experience under their paddles. Our professional guides have the most (collective) years of experience on the river. Senior guides have paddled the Arkansas River through seasons with similar snowpacks and they’ve seen it at every level.
All certified commercial raft guides have completed mandatory training to be able to read the river and manage risk. Performance Tours Rafting has high standards — our guides have double the number of training hours set by the state of Colorado. Pay attention to the safety talk, listen, follow directions, go with a guide, and have FUN!
It’s About Time
Peak water, when the river is at the highest point of the season, typically occurs early to mid June. Waves are big, flows are elevated, and the stoke level is high – especially for experienced paddlers and whitewater river guides. This year, peak may stick around through the end of June, giving thrill-seekers an extra few weeks of exhilarating adventure.
During peak water cycles, commercial outfitters may raise the minimum ages on popular family-friendly stretches of river.
“For most of the summer, Browns Canyon National Monument is an ideal trip for families with children as young as 7 years or 50 lbs,” says Kevin Foley, owner Performance Tours Rafting, “When conditions call for it, we might raise minimum ages to 10 years and sometimes even 12 years.”
Best of Your Ability
Families can opt for more mellow sections of the river with fewer rapids. The Mild and Scenic tour, normally a float trip with small-scale rapids, will have the same great views with faster than average flows.
Adventure-seekers suited for the Numbers, a class 4+ section of challenging, technical rapids, may be routed down a different section, like the Narrows, Wildhorse Canyon, or Browns Canyon National Monument during peak flows.
“As conditions change and flows fluctuate we consider each rapid, each boat and every guest,” says Kevin Foley, who started Performance Tours in 1986, “We ask our guests to take an honest assessment of their health, fitness level, and swimming ability.”
Ask the Experts
2019 will be an incredible year for whitewater, just as the preceding winter was an amazing season for skiing. With any activity that operates in harmony with nature, there will be external factors outside of our control. But there are decisions that guides, guests, and outfitters can make together to build the perfect trip regardless of circumstances.
This is the summer to choose an experienced outfitter to help you select the right trip for your ability, timing, and the current conditions. When these elements come together correctly, rafting guests have an experience they’ll cherish for years to come.
“If you’re unsure or have questions about current conditions, give us a call,” says Kevin, “We’re on the river everyday and we bring thousands of guests rafting each week. We’ll guide you to the perfect trip, and then guide you down the river.”