Featured Stretch of River: Royal Gorge

Ask our guides what their favorite stretch of Class V rafting is along the Arkansas River and chances are they’ll say the Royal Gorge. Known for its iconic history and fast flows, whitewater rafting through the Royal Gorge is a guaranteed fun time!

Just an hour south of Colorado Springs you’ll find some the hottest action the Arkansas River has to offer. It’s a genuine toss up among whitewater aficionados over which section is better – The Royal Gorge or The Numbers. Personally, I find each one so unique that it’s impossible to decide. (If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation, check out our trip that features both: 2 Day Arkansas River Extreme)

Our Royal Gorge trips start a bit differently than the other whitewater rafting trips we do on the Arkansas River. Rather than meeting in our Buena Vista office, you’ll meet up with your guides in nearby Cañon City. After gearing up, we put in just above the start of the Royal Gorge at Bighorn Sheep Canyon. The fun starts immediately with Sunshine Falls a splashy rapid requiring some technical paddling during high water conditions.

Entering the Royal Gorge and looking up at the 1,250 foot granite cliffs showcases Colorado geology, history, and simply beauty at its finest. The layers of rock were carved away by the Arkansas River to create the Royal Gorge as we know it today over a period of 3 million years.

A relic from Colorado’s Wild West Days, you’ll notice railroad tracks laid out in 1878. Originally built by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad company after two years of guerilla warfare against Santa Fe Railroads, these tracks are still in use today by the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.

As we continue on just past Wall Slammer, a class V that gives me butterflies everytime we pass through, the 955 foot high suspension bridge towers above us. Built in 1929, the bridge held the world record for highest bridge until 2001. Looking up at this moment is always my favorite – it’s such a unique perspective. Very few of the Royal Gorge’s annual 500,000 visitors get the opportunity to enjoy their experience via raft!

My favorite time of year to raft the Royal Gorge is early summer (May/June) because of all the secret waterfalls that reveal themselves after spring rains. The juxtaposition of jagged granite cliffs and lush greenery surrounding the waterfalls is absolutely breathtaking. Mid June – July brings high water rafting season making the rapids even more intense and then in August, things mellow out again returning to early summer flows.Regardless of when you visit, the Royal Gorge is also a popular spot for spotting mountain goats and bighorn sheep. I’ve had the best luck spotting them after Lion’s Head Rapid.

If you got a taste of the Arkansas River and are craving a new flavor, I highly suggest checking out the Royal Gorge. It has a very unique feel and is a personal favorite.

Check out all of the options for our Royal Gorge adventures here!

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Colorado Rafting River Guide:

Colorado Rafting River Guide
Check out our detailed information about the rivers you can raft across Colorado.

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Good job, as usual. Our 5th or 6th trip with WA. Big fans of WA.
Tim S.
Your staff and guides were so helpful and so much fun. My kids ranked that half-day trip as the highlight of our month long trip!
Patty G.
Thanks for the great time on the river. You do a super job of taking care of your crews.
Jan P.
We booked our trip cold off the internet and found from the very beginning a very friendly and courteous staff that helped out and answered all our questions.
Carolyn W.
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Linda H.
We had an awesome time! All staff we dealt with were very personable and helpful. I can’t imagine anything you could do to improve!
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This company is quality. Six years ago I did the same trip with Jack, Ian, and Kelly and the quality is as good today.
Chris G.
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Lisa P.
We started rafting with you in 1988. This is our fourth trip. Will be back.
Jim L.
You are great to work with and your guides are fun to be around and well trained. Each experience I’ve had with you (3) has been excellent.
Dawn R.
Sarah was fantastic! Very knowledgeable and very fun! Best trip ever, even the low water! We will be back again!
Barbara L.
I have rafted with other companies before but I found your company and Mike, our guide, to be outstanding! I will be back!
Joe M.
We feel we have found new friends in Wilderness Aware and plan on spending time in the future with you.
Susie S.
Family friend always said Wilderness Aware Rafting was the best. I totally agree!
Angie D.
This was the highlight of our trip to Colorado!
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This was my first rafting experience and you guys made it awesome! Thank you so much!
Jamie L.
When I made our reservation I knew we were going to have a fantastic time. Everything that happened today exceeded my expectations.
Mark E.
I loved my experience at WA and will definitely be back with more people.
Cory D.
Your internet advertising was great. People who answered the phone very helpful and the guides top notch. Seems like your manager has done a wonderful job. I see why you are a successful company.
Phil G.
Been rafting six times around the country. Best trip and guide so far.
James H.
Pete was great. Extremely friendly and he took great care of us and really put our group first. Our trip was relaxing and fun!
Erin L.
I want to raft again and again and well you get the point…again.
Levi V.
Best time I’ve had on the river in the past 15 years!!!! Will return soon!!!
Dylan S.
Frenchie was the best guide I’ve ever had! This is a great company and I will definitely be telling friends about it!
Jamin R.
Matt was the most enthusiastic and exciting guide I have ever had… and I have done this a lot.
Carl M.
We had an awesome time. I would definitely recommend your company!
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Ken T.
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I started rafting at WA in 1999 and have always had a good time. I highly recommend WA to anyone who wants to raft.
Marty E.
From the enthusiastic greetings when we arrived at the office this am, all service was top notch.
John D.
It was the best first experience in rafting. Ben was awesome!! Five stars!
Kirby S.
One of the best times of my life!
Dylnn R.
I love the staff!! Very entertaining and welcoming. This was a great rafting experience. I want to come back tomorrow and do it again!
Bailey W.
Appreciate your professional and fun staff! Will definitely return next year!
Dana Q.
We have rafted round the world and this is by far the best—best trained guides, best safety, best food, best fun. Thanks.
Jane H.
Sarah, our guide, was the consummate professional.
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Fred P.
Very professional yet very informal approach—not an easy combination to sustain—nice team—office included.
Mark W.

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