Colorado Whitewater Rafting
Colorado Rafting Adventures
Hop on a raft in Colorado and you’ll truly experience those Rocky Mountain highs. In the northwest corner of the state, where OARS operates on the Green and Yampa Rivers, these legendary waterways will transport you back in time beneath towering peaks flowing through sandstone and limestone canyons with rock formations rich in prehistory. An incredible opportunity to explore the heart of Dinosaur National Monument from the unique vantage point of a raft, our multi-day Colorado whitewater rafting trips set an easy pace and feature an endless combination of exploratory side hikes, quiet beach camps, and fun Class III-IV whitewater that’s perfect for everyone from beginners to experienced river runners.
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Adventures in Colorado
The scenery was amazing, the guides were outstanding, and the food was excellent. The OARS team made it easy and enjoyable for our whole family.Mark, 2022 OARS Yampa River guest
Frequently Asked Questions
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Why choose OARS?
With more than 55 years of experience under our belts, our family-owned and operated company knows the rivers of northwest Colorado better than anyone. Colorado’s Yampa River was one of the first rivers our founder, George Wendt, ever ran. Today, Yampa river trips have become one of the most sought-out adventures in the U.S. OARS is proud to be able to offer commercial rafting trips down this legendary waterway, as well as many others throughout the U.S. and the world. Ask around, and you’ll quickly discover that we’re one of the most respected and trusted outfitters in the whitewater industry and our rafting guides are the most experienced and professional in the business.
When is the best time to go on a rafting trip in Colorado?
When it comes to planning a thrilling Colorado white water rafting trip, timing is everything. The best time to go depends on your preferences and appetite for adventure. If you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping rapids, the ideal time is during spring and early summer when the winter snowmelt swells the rivers. For those who prefer a more relaxed experience with milder rapids and more reliably warm weather, late summer and early fall are perfect.
Rafting the Yampa River means experiencing the one major tributary in the Colorado River system that runs wild and free of upstream dams and relies entirely on run-off from the Rocky Mountains. The Yampa River rafting season generally runs from early May through June and sometimes into July, though conditions can change depending on the year’s snowpack.
Gates of Lodore Season
The Green River through the Gates of Lodore has reliable flows throughout the spring and summer with commercial whitewater rafting trips available from late May through early September. High water is most common in May and June.
Where do rafters meet for OARS whitewater adventures in Colorado?
Our Yampa River and Green River trips begin in northwest Colorado, but guests meet at the OARS Dinosaur boathouse in Vernal, Utah. We then shuttle the group to the put-in locations in Colorado.
Are Colorado rafting trips good for families?
Rafting trips are an excellent choice for families seeking adventure and unplugged time together on a vacation that’s both exciting and educational. And when compared to a trip to Disney World or an all-inclusive resort, the cost of a river trip is perfect for family budgets. With so many options available, choosing the right family rafting adventure in Colorado will come down to how much time you have, your budget, river ratings and minimum age requirements.
For families looking for a multi-day trip, a Gates of Lodore trip through Dinosaur National Monument is an ideal family adventure that’s an easy drive from Denver or Salt Lake City, UT. Lodore Canyon is known to have some of the most dramatic scenery on any river in the Western U.S. This stretch of the Green River offers up fun and consistent Class II-III rapids perfect for paddle boats, inflatable kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Off the water, side hikes lead to waterfalls, swimming holes and stunning views of the river, and evenings under the stars are spent in some of the most incredible riverside campsites anywhere. Trips range from 3- to 5-days with regular departures all summer long. The minimum age is 7 (10-12 during high water).
As the big spring flows subside, the Yampa River is also great for adventurous families in mid- to late June or early July depending on the season.
What will I see while rafting in Dinosaur National Monument?
Beside the fossils and paleontological riches of Dinosaur National Monument, the riverbanks of the Green and Yampa protect Native American petroglyphs, pictographs and critical habitat for the endangered peregrine falcon, bald eagle, Colorado pikeminnow, and razorback sucker. Black bear, river otter, beaver, mule deer and moose are occasionally spotted from the river and bighorn sheep are a common site.
Does OARS offer whitewater day trips in Colorado?
While OARS focuses exclusively on multi-day river trips in Colorado, we do offer a number of 1-day rafting trips in California and Utah, including one of the most scenic day trips in the West on the Colorado & Utah border through Split Mountain Canyon on the Green River. Within a half day’s drive from Denver, a Split Mountain rafting trip is an idyllic Class III full-day trip in the heart of Dinosaur National Monument.
The most popular option for half day and full day rafting trips in Colorado is the Arkansas River due to its proximity to Colorado Springs. On the Arkansas, rafters can find everything from family-friendly floats in Bighorn Sheep Canyon to adrenaline-inducing adventures through Brown’s Canyon or Royal Gorge. There are also a number of whitewater day trips near Denver.
Does OARS operate on the Colorado River?
OARS offers a number of Colorado River trips, ranging from 2-day quick getaways to 18-day Grand Canyon adventures. The majority of these trips operate in Utah and Arizona, however our Westwater Canyon trips start on a mellow stretch on the Colorado River through Ruby Horsethief Canyon near Fruita, CO.
What can I expect on a multi-day rafting trip with OARS?
On any river trip with OARS, you can expect a high standard of customer service, top-notch equipment, delicious meals, and some of the best guides in the industry providing you with a trip of a lifetime. Check out our Multi-day River Trip FAQs for more information about the multi-day rafting experience OARS.