While Colorado’s upper Arkansas River tends to get all the publicity, don’t over look Royal Gorge rafting. Featuring cliffs that plummet nearly 1,000 feet to raging waters below, the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is one of Colorado’s most iconic natural wonders.
The gorge is connected by a $25 million engineering marvel: one of the highest suspension bridges in the world. It will truly take your breath away. Now just imagine rafting through the heart of this one-of-a-kind outdoor setting.
There are several outfitters who offer wet-and-wild rafting trips on lower Arkansas River at the Royal Gorge, just an hour from Colorado Springs. Many of these companies run similar excursions on the upper section of the river and know these whitewater channels like the back of their hand.
One local guide service, Royal Gorge Rafting, puts together challenging half- or full-day rides through the deep canyon, which only intensifies the whitewater moving through such a narrow slot.
With the potential for serious rapids, Royal Gorge rafting is for experienced boaters or those who are ready for an epic adventure. Age limits usually start at 14 when whitewater is running at lower levels and higher at peak season, so this is not a top rafting choice for families with young ones. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to call ahead.
Whitewater rafting below the dramatic suspension bridge, with views of the lofty old railroad line, is often running at class III-V levels and features famous rapids Sunshine Falls, Sledgehammer and, our favorite, Boat Eater.
While it may be tough to look around too much between paddles, one of the most unique features of Royal Gorge rafting is geology and wildlife on the edge of these ancient cliffs.
Want to get up close and personal with Royal Gorge rafting? Just check out this video released by another longtime guide crew, River Runners.
Booking a Royal Gorge rafting trip is just another way to experience one of the state’s most famous landscapes. You can combine a whitewater adventure with other activities at the Royal Gorge, including hiking with jaw-dropping overlooks; aerial gondola rides; zipline and skycoaster adventures; a three-story playland for the kids; and more.
There are also plenty of combo trips with rafting and choose-your-own second adventure, plus complete Royal Gorge vacation packages including lodging and dining.
The only question is how much adventure can you handle?