The idea of going white water rafting had come up at the very start of our road trip, I’d been white water rafting in Austria but Renee had never tried it before so was keen to do so. However it wasn’t until some extremely hot days in Utah (Mountain biking Gooseberry Mesa comes to mind) that we really started to develop a thirst for water sport activity. We’d looked into it in the adventure town of Moab but the rafting trips offered sounded rather tame and were expensive because special licenses were required to raft down a particular stretch of the river. However while searching the internet we found rafting offered in Colorado, a particular white water rafting company in Glenwood Springs was highly rated and reasonably priced so we booked ahead and set our schedule accordingly.
It was sadly ironic that we booked the white water rafting tour in sweltering hot Utah conditions only to have our first cold day in memory when we turned up to raft. It actually rained at times!
We were kitted up in wetsuits and wetsuit booties which we paid more to rent plus a life jacket. We met our guide who was very experienced (10 years plus rafting the Colorado river with this company) and surprisingly softly spoken – I’m used to extreme sport guides being loud and crazy! We were doing the full day rafting tour and were paired with a couple and their two young sons plus another guy and his somewhat elderly mother. Both groups on our raft had been white water rafting with this company before; the couple had been a few times and always requested the guide we had. He certainly seemed responsible and was a good choice for a raft with the young kids and older lady. If you’re thinking of going white water rafting in Glenwood Springs and want a nice responsible guide certainly consider asking for Ben.[pe2-gallery][/pe2-gallery]
The first half of our white water rafting day tour started out with us piling into a school bus (not jet powered unlike this one at the Rifle Air Show) and heading upriver to launch.
For some reason I didn’t like the idea of being in a raft where the guide has oars. Now that I think about it I know why; firstly the long oars give the guide too much control of the raft which leads to my second point. As the guide has control there is less of a requirement for the guide to properly instruct everyone in the raft on how to paddle (if they bother to paddle at all). Lastly a raft with oars gives an idea of the type of river you’re rafting on; long protruding oars would be ineffective and a hindrance on tight rivers or rivers with lots of protruding rocks and obstacles (which would potentially prevent the long oars from digging into the water). However oars for the guide on the wide Colorado River with the high water level we encountered were very effective for guiding the raft, but personally I felt they detracted from the ‘extreme sport’ experience which was already pretty limited on this trip.
There were certainly some fun standing waves and series of rapids, but they tended to be sporadic between long periods of floating down the relatively calm (but fast moving) river.
The first half of our rafting tour finished back at the rafting company headquarters where we got fed (pretty basic BBQ with sausages, pulled pork sandwiches and some kind of dessert I can’t remember). It gave us a chance to dry out a little and fortunately the sun peeked out from behind a cloud and warmed us up.
For the second half of the day we drove upriver to another launching spot on a different river fork. The couple with their two young kids only did the morning so we had four less people in our raft for the afternoon.
The rafting experience was similar to the morning with some fun rapids in between rather too long sections of calm. We did however spot some wildlife from the raft including Bald Eagles nesting in trees lining the river bank.
To conclude, white water rafting in Glenwood Springs was fun and we’re both glad we did it. However it was not ‘extreme’ by any stretch of the imagination. Our guide was nice and experienced, but because he had so much control of the raft by himself I never felt as involved in the rafting experience as I did when I went in Austria - again I wouldn’t call that occasion ‘extreme’ but it was certainly a little more fun.
Highly recommended for young kids or the elderly wanting a peaceful rafting experience mixed up with a few splashes and bumps. Adrenaline junkies head elsewhere – I’ve seen amazing photos from white water rafting trips in New Zealand and Africa!
Have you been white water rafting before? Were you scared for your life?