River Runners FaQ

Colorado Whitewater Rafting

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers

River Runners is known as the whitewater professionals, and our staff has been asked all kinds of questions through the years. Check out this list of Colorado rafting FAQs. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, please give us a call at 800-723-8987.

In general, six to seven guests plus the guide will fit in a raft. The number of guests per raft can vary depending on the size of the guests and river flows. River Runners has some boats that fit up to nine people at moderate to high flows.

As much as we love dogs and other pets, they are not allowed on commercial river trips. There are several local options for pet boarding and we recommend booking a spot with them in advance. Please do not leave your pets unattended in or around your vehicle.

River Runners started in 1972 as the first commercial river outfitter on Colorado’s Arkansas River. The current ownership group has operated the company since 2003. 

All commercial river outfitters in Colorado are regulated by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and all guides must complete an extensive training program to meet the criteria outlined by the state. River Runners exceeds the minimum qualifications for Colorado river guides by more than double. *The Arkansas River is managed by a sub-division of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife called the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA).

There are many reasons to choose River Runners over any other rafting company, but they can be summed up with experience, customer service, location, and equipment.

River Runners has an established training program that has been passed on and improved for generations. As a busy company, our guides are on the river every day.

Customer Service:
Our staff members are passionate about what they do from the first phone call to the shuttle back from the river. A safe and positive guest experience is our number one priority.

River Runners has two locations on the Arkansas River. This gives you more trip options.

River Runners invests in new equipment regularly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the river.

The first step to staying safe: choose the right trip for your group

Whitewater rafting is a fun summer activity with a range of difficulties for almost all ages and abilities, but as with any activity there are inherent risks and you will need to sign a waiver to participate. You have taken the first step of mitigating that risk by researching an experienced outfitter. Certain river trips have less risk than others and choosing an appropriate level of whitewater for your group is critical. Call 800-723-8987 to speak with a whitewater professional about your options.

Swimming is a recommended skill for all whitewater activities, but not always mandatory. Beginner trips are less risky for non-swimmers, especially at lower to moderate water levels. Personal flotation devices are mandatory on every outing and are designed to help keep your head above water.

You can choose a paddle raft (everyone paddles), an oar raft (guide rows and no one paddles) or a paddle assist (guide rows and guests help paddle).

Age guidelines vary for the different rafting trips based on the degree of difficulty. These guidelines can go up or down depending on the flow of the river, so please call if someone in your group is near the cutoff.

Age guidelines for raft trips departing from River Runners Browns Canyon

  • Family Float (Beginner) – Class I-II
    Recommended minimum age is 3 years old and 35 lbs.
  • Browns Canyon (Intermediate) – Class III-IV
    Recommended minimum age is 6 years old and at least 50 pounds
  • The Happy Hour Float (Beginner) – Class III
    Recommended minimum age is 12
  • The Numbers (Advanced) – Class IV-V
    Recommended minimum age is 14

Age Guidelines for raft trips departing from River Runners Royal Gorge

  • Royal Gorge (Advanced) – Class IV – V
    Recommended minimum age is 14
  • Bighorn Sheep Canyon (Intermediate) – Class III-IV
    Recommended minimum age is 6 years old and at least 50 pounds
Plan to arrive 45 minutes prior to the scheduled trip departure time. River Runners trips depart from two different locations depending on what you book. River Runners Browns Canyon is the meeting place for Browns Canyon, the Family Float, the Numbers, the Happy Hour Trip, inflatable kayak tours, and all overnight rafting trips. River Runners Royal Gorge is the meeting place for the Royal Gorge and Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Your confirmation e-mail includes the departure time and meeting place. It is your responsibility to know where your trip meets. If you are unsure, please call to confirm.

Yes. We provide the highest quality Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (pfds). Your pfd will be fitted and checked by a guide and all buckles must be clipped while on the river. Helmets are also required on every trip except the Family Float.

Yes, people fall out of the raft from time to time, but if you pay attention and listen to your guide, the chances of falling out are small. Young children, people with disabilities and non-swimmers can request an oar raft with a senior guide, which will further reduce the risk of falling out.

Yes. Each raft has a highly qualified guide. Each guide has completed an extensive training program with more than double the requirements set by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

This is largely weather dependent, but you should plan to wear quick-dry clothing like fleece, poly-pro and board shorts, plus secure footwear like strapped sandals or an old pair of tennis shoes. Wetsuits, neoprene boots, and splash jackets are included in the cost of your trip. Cotton, flip-flops, and Crocs are not appropriate. We also recommend sunglasses, sunscreen, and personal drinking water. Your guide will have a dry bag for small items, but please keep towels and dry clothes in your vehicle.

It is a good idea to bring extra money for souvenirs, food, and photos of your trip. Guide gratuity is also appropriate if you have a good time on your raft trip.

A catered riverside lunch is provided on full-day raft trips and an onsite Riverside Bar & Grill is available at the rafting resort. Half-day trips do not include lunch.

The Colorado rafting season runs from May through Labor Day. The most exciting time to go whitewater rafting is during spring run-off, which occurs from late-May through mid-July. The best time for timid rafters and young families is July and August. Learn more about the best time to go rafting in Colorado for your group.

Advanced reservations are highly recommended, but walk-ins are welcome if space is available. This is not always the case – especially during peak season and on weekends. You can save 10% instantly if you book at least one month in advance or book online with promo code: RAFT10.

Browns Canyon raft trips depart from River Runners

River Runners will provide transportation from the meeting location to the river, and back to the office where your vehicle is parked following the trip.

Raft trips depart daily rain or shine and are almost never canceled with the exception of an extreme event such as a wildfire or a large snowstorm in early spring.

Get a full refund if you cancel at least 48 hours prior to your original reservation date and a rain check or credit – minus $10 per person – for cancellations made with less than a 48-hour notice.