It’s easy to get excited about summer and the multitudinous opportunities that come with more free time and great weather. Vacation is at the forefront of the mind and for those who enjoy the outdoors, vacations are a great time to go exploring and embark on new adventures. Colorado is a beautiful state, full of outdoor activities for active families and adventurous individuals. One of these activities is white water rafting. Paddling down the scenic rivers that stretch across Colorado can be the catalyst for amazing memories that last a lifetime. Due to the variation in rapids, there are different levels of difficulty for a range of ages and expertise. This can be an activity the whole family enjoys or it can be a solo challenge for an expert outdoorsman wanting to test their skills.
Levels of Difficulty
The first thing to know about the difficulty of a river is the importance of timing. Peak runoff occurs somewhere between late May and early June, which means the rapids are a little rougher. The runoff lessens considerably in July and August which makes those months perfect for beginners to try their hand at rafting. Here’s a breakdown of the levels of difficulty:
1. Class 1 rapids
With small tugging waves to move the boat along, these rapids aren’t really rapids at all. Rafting down the calm areas of the river is a relaxing way to spend the day. Perfect for families, especially those with young children, class 1 rapids make for a fun and memorable experience.
2. Class 2 rapids
Waves in class 2 rapids can get to be about 3 feet tall but they are easy to see and easy to navigate. The passages are wide and though the trip may be a bit rocky, its a fun experience for those who want to experience Colorado white water rafting without needing too much expertise.
3. Class 3 rapids
In class 3, the rapids get a little more interesting. Waves can be up to 4 feet tall and the passages narrow, making the journey a little rougher. These rapids come with a 4D experience with water occasionally splashing into the rafts.
4. Class 4 rapids
When the rapids hit class 4, it is important to be well prepared for the journey. They require precision and stamina as they are often long and difficult paths with very turbulent water. Although you’ll see some calm Class II waters while white water rafting in Colorado during the early season, you can see some gnarly, Class IV and V rapids by the end of June. Seasonal timing makes a big difference in areas where increasing temperatures cause snowmelt to hasten the water flow. This isn’t as common in states in the Southeast US, but it’s something to consider if you aren’t an experienced rafter
5. Class 5 rapids
This is the second-highest classification and the rapids get pretty crazy. The raft will be spun around and thrown in all different directions. The water is high, gushing, and dangerous for those with little to no experience rafting.
6. Class 6 rapids
At the highest classification, these rapids should not be run by anyone other than those with extreme levels of expertise. These rapids won’t even make the list of trips done by outfitter companies.
For a fun family summer trip, classes 1 to 3 are probably the best to choose from depending on the ages of those going on the trip. It is important to put safety first in all things. This is especially true out on the river. The most important part of any rafting trip is listening to the instructions given by the guide. They will have information pertaining to self-rescue and other key pieces of knowledge. Rafting can be a great experience but it helps to be prepared with the right tools. Wear sturdy shoes made for hiking and don’t forget to bring along lots of sunscreen and water. It might be nice to bring along a dry pair of clothes in case the raft ends up getting a little wet.
The mountains and rivers of Colorado are full of beautiful wildlife and one of the best ways to experience nature is by being part of it. Rafting down a mighty river is a great way to get immersed.