Family Whitewater Rafting on Colorado’s Arkansas River


Family Whitewater Rafting Starting at Bighorn Sheep Canyon

A calm and relaxing family whitewater rafting trip is one of the most overlooked types of trips there are. When asked, most people assume that whitewater rafting is something that entails dangerous rapids of some sort – when it’s actually quite the opposite.

Most “river rats” would agree that the satisfaction that comes from Class II and Class III rapids is a type of satisfaction all in its own. Taking the time to appreciate the river, the scenery and especially the wildlife along the river banks can be very humbling, inspiring and worthy of soul-searching. Bighorn Sheep Canyon rafting on the Arkansas River, near Denver and Colorado Springs, is a perfect place to do just so.

Are There Really Bighorn Sheep?

bighorn sheepYes, there are actually bighorn sheep, and they are pretty awesome to watch during your Bighorn Sheep Canyon rafting trip. In late 2015, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimated that there were 460 bighorn sheep living along the Arkansas River, Sangre De Cristo, and Browns Canyon area. Watching them jump from boulder to boulder or witnessing them socialize with each other is a unique experience that doesn’t come with other family white water rafting trips.

Family Whitewater Rafting at Bighorn Sheep Canyon – First Timing at its Best

Pushing off and paddling from Bighorn Sheep Canyon rafting launch point at Lone Pine is an unforgettable entry into the Arkansas River. Dramatic cliffs on each side of the Arkansas river offer a great views for every rafter as they get ready to take on the rapids.

This area of whitewater is perfect for family rafting, as well as first timers of all ages: children (6 and up), teens, young adults, adults, and retirees. The reason this launch is so popular is due to the easiness of the rapids; as this gives beginners the chance to learn how to become a more competent paddler as they progress down the initial leg of the river. Taking direction from a certified guide and learning how to move paddles in sync everyone else in the raft is a valuable, and rewarding experience in itself.

A Calm Start to Bighorn Cheep Canyon Rafting: Maytag, Texas Creek and Devil’s Hole

family whitewater raftingOnce the raft is launched and the group has started to work together, a spectacular view of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range can be seen before the water starts to increase in speed and irregularity.

The Class II-III rapids on this stretch of the Arkansas, such as Maytag, Texas Creek and Devil’s Hole, offer the little rush most rafters learn to love. The rapids also give rafters the necessary entertainment and some of the adrenaline they came for in the first place.

Stepping it up a Notch: Wake Up, 3 Rocks, SpikeBuck and Shark’s Tooth

After traversing through light to mild waters, rafters experience the more technically-demanding rapids of the next set. Wake Up and 3 Rocks offer some challenging maneuvers in more obstructed channels that give these rapids the Class III rating.

Plunging into the exploding rapids of SpikeBuck and Shark’s Tooth immediately exhilarates everyone, especially first-time rafters. The tightly scattered boulders in the river require the raft crew to work together to search out the best route. This stretch of the river is definitely more challenging, but overall leads to a more rewarding experience for everyone there. This beginner to immediate level route in Colorado should be experienced by every nature and adventure lover alike.

About the Author

ben sack headshotBen Sack is the General Manager of Echo Canyon River Expeditions, Colorado’s largest whitewater rafting outfitter. He’s also a raft guide, photographer and a father of two boys. He writes to inspire the adventurer in all of us to get out and explore our rivers. (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin)


About Author

The mission of Outdoor Sports Guide Magazine is to inspire and educate endurance athletes and outdoor enthusiasts in the Mountain West through well-written content on adventure, travel, gear, health, fitness, nutrition, industry news, profiles, and ski resort information.

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