If there is one Colorado vacation that my kids always bring up, it’s the time when we stay-cationed and went family rafting near Colorado Springs with Echo Canyon River Expeditions. They’re a quick drive south in Canon City. It was the perfect match of adventure, excitement and family time.
From gnarly to mild, raucous to relaxing, there’s an Arkansas River rafting trip that is right for every adventure seeker, and the knowledgeable and patient rafting experts at Echo Canyon River Expeditions are ready to help visitors choose the perfect experience.
As the state’s largest and most experienced rafting company, Echo Canyon offers trips in central Colorado’s Royal Gorge region suitable for first-time rafters, families with kids as young as four, big-water fans and everyone in between.
“The Arkansas is an equal-opportunity river, with several raftable sections that offer vastly different experiences, terrain and scenery,” said Andy Neinas, owner of Echo Canyon River Expeditions and Royal Gorge Cabins, with luxury cabins and glamping tents. “Rafting is a classic adventure that is good for the body and spirit. It’s hard to be glum after a day of paddling through some of most rugged and wildlife-rich scenery in Colorado.”
Echo Canyon River Expeditions’ lineup of rafting adventures includes multi-day and half- and full-day trips. The company’s Trip Finder tool explains the variety of options. Rafters can also chat about options with the resort’s travel experts by calling 1-800-755-3246.
Rafting season with Echo Canyon began earlier this month and will end sometime in September, depending on water flow. Rafting experiences typically change significantly during the season. Spring snowmelt results in fast river flows, and early-season rafting is a favorite time for adrenaline junkies. Summer brings calmer waters, making it a perfect season for families and soft adventure travelers.
Echo Canyon offers a selection of rafting trips on three sections of the legendary river. Royal Gorge Canyon trips are a good choice for rafters seeking adventures with challenging rapids. There are also trip options on the milder Bighorn Sheep Canyon section of the river. During the spring season when the water flows especially fast due to snowmelt, there are also weekend options for big-water enthusiasts in the Browns Canyon and The Numbers sections of the river near Buena Vista.
Echo Canyon River Expeditions provides all rafters with a personal flotation device and helmet and offers rentals of water shoes, wetsuits and splash jackets. Echo Canyon pioneered the use of GoPro cameras mounted on all rafts, enabling both photos and videos to be captured throughout the trip. Due to advanced technology at Echo Canyon headquarters, rafters can view and purchase photos and videos of their adventures shortly after they arrive back to the office.
Introduced last summer in light of Covid concerns, Echo Canyon offers rafters the option of paddling private rafts for up to five guests. Rafters choosing this popular option are guaranteed that only rafters from their “bubble” – plus a guide – will paddle in their boat. Guests will be transported to river put-ins with other guests.
More about the rafting trips:
The Bighorn Sheep Canyon trip is a good choice for families with children six and up as well as intermediate rafters. Available now, this trip combines mild whitewater with calm stretches featuring wildlife watching in a spectacular natural setting. Rates are $79 for half-day trips and $139 for full-day trips. Full-day trips include a gourmet boxed lunch. Private rafts for up to five guests are priced at $395 for half-day trips and $695 for full-day trips.
The Gentle Family Float is a half-day, five-mile excursion that also takes place in the Bighorn Sheep Canyon. This trip will be available beginning May 24, and it is suitable for multiple generations, including kids as young as four. Easy Class II and gentle Class III rapids are mixed with plenty of floating time. Rates are $79 per adult and $69 for kids under six.
Royal Gorge Rafting Trips feature rapids ranging from challenging Class III up to Class V. These trips travel through the 1,000-foot deep Royal Gorge of the Arkansas. Minimum age is 14. Rates are $95 for 10-mile, half-day trips and $159 for 20-mile, full-day trips. Private rafts are $475 for the half-day trip and $795 for the full-day trip. Full-day trips include gourmet boxed lunch served at a scenic private site overlooking the river.
Rafting Packages featuring rafting trips with Echo Canyon and other regional adventures can also be booked. The packages include the Royal Gorge Raft and Zipline package and Bighorn Sheep Raft and Zipline Package in partnership with Adventures Out West in Manitou Springs, Raft and Bridge package including passes to the nearby Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, Raft and Rail Package including a trip aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad and Colorado ATV and Rafting Adventure with Play Dirty ATV Tours.
After a rafting trip, paddlers can refuel and relax at the 8 Mile Bar and Grill. This popular restaurant features a 16-tap bar with Colorado brews and popular favorites as well as a menu featuring salads, burgers, sandwiches and entrees. More than half of the restaurant’s seating is outside, and large bay doors allow for plenty of fresh air.
Play, Then Stay
Located across the street from Echo Canyon River Expeditions are the Royal Gorge Cabins, a complex of one- and two-bedroom luxury cabins with fully equipped kitchens, living areas and private outdoors spaces, and queen and double-queen Glamping Tents with private patios and fire rings. These make the perfect base camp for your Southern Colorado adventure.
Echo Canyon River Expeditions is serious about guest safety, and the resort embraces Covid-19 protocols prescribed by the state and county. Those protocols include online release forms that must be completed in advance, robust cleaning procedures, increased guest spacing in vans and buses and more. A complete list of procedures and requirements is available online.