Buena Vista is handy to some of the best rafting in the state and is just 2 hours southwest of Denver. Nearby Browns Canyon is a popular destination, and once you’ve spent a morning or afternoon navigating 10 miles (16 kilometers) of rapids, you’ll see why. Don’t let names like Zoom-Flume, Big Drop and Widow-maker put you off – with thorough safety instructions, professional guide onboard and virtually indestructible rafts, first-timers shouldn’t feel intimidated. But if you really want to test your nerves, head out for a full day and have more time to enjoy the amazing scenery of this dramatic chasm with 18 miles (29 kilometers) of rapids.
Alternatively, spend the morning getting to know Bighorn Sheep Canyon, a part of the river friendly toward first-time rafters. Several experiences of different durations take place out of Canon City (2 hrs south of Denver) so you have lots to choose from to suit your group's rafting needs.
Or, if you’re ready for some of the most challenging rapids on the Arkansas, it’s time for The Numbers. Steep drops and numerous rocks demand precision rafting and even the most seasoned professionals allow themselves a sigh of relief once the route arrives at the slightly calmer waters of the Narrows.
You can also go rafting down the Colorado River with a trip from Glenwood Springs. Most of these are family-friendly trips where everyone in your group can enjoy a wet and wild afternoon together.
Last but not least, if you happen to find yourself in the southern part of the state and looking for a rafting adventure, look no further than the Animas River, easily accessible from Durango.