The most popular rafting river in the West




About Arkansas River Whitewater Rafting

We offer Arkansas River rafting trips suitable for families with small children as well as exciting white water rafting trips for seasoned pros. For a family friendly and mellow Arkansas River float trip, we recommend the scenic Lower Browns Canyon section. If you’re looking to step it up a notch, we recommend the popular and moderately rambunctious Browns Canyon rafting trip or a Narrows trip. For a rowdy and challenging trip, experience the steep and unpredictable Arkansas River Royal Gorge section or the Numbers section. Whatever level of Arkansas River white water rafting you’re prepared for, you can find the right trip with us.

Our Arkansas River Multi-Day Rafting and Camping Trips are available for two, three and five day lengths. Wilderness Aware runs more overnight river rafting trips than any other Arkansas River outfitter. We are the only company on the Arkansas River offering continuous rafting trips longer than two days where you carry your camping gear on the rafts and camp along the river… without driving between sections. For those interested in an overnight Arkansas River whitewater rafting trip of up to four days while sleeping in the comfort of a bed and breakfast each night, you may want to consider our Inn to Inn Rafting Trip. Senior guides cater to special requests on these custom small-group trips.

The Arkansas River drops 5,000 feet in its first 125 miles from its headwaters in the Colorado Rockies near the Continental Divide to the plains near Cañon City, Colorado. The Arkansas River is located 90 miles west of Colorado Springs, 120 miles southwest of Denver. The whitewater rafting sections of the Arkansas River flows past Buena Vista, Salida and finally ends in Cañon City, Colorado. We look forward to taking you on a Buena Vista rafting trip!

• Difficulty: Class I-V+ (What does this mean?)
• Peak Season: May – September

browns canyon

wildly popular


steep and technical


moderately rambunctious

royal gorge

big and powerful

More Arkansas River Rafting Info

Three boats filled with guests enjoy an arkansas river rafting tripBeginning high in the Colorado Rockies near the Continental Divide, the Arkansas River delivers more than 100 miles of whitewater for Arkansas River rafting Colorado– making it the most popular rafting river in the West. The Arkansas River’s appeal lies in its wide variety of trips and easy accessibility. Start some of Colorado’s best rafting adventures on mild, scenic float sections before stepping up to the world-famous class III-IV Browns Canyon white water rafting section where you’ll see the Browns Canyon National Monument. Then hit it hard on the ultimate whitewater challenge of the Numbers, Royal Gorge or Pine Creek. Arkansas River whitewater rafting is ideal for families with young children, groups with mixed skill levels, and outgoing, adventurous adults. An Arkansas River rafting trip is also an excellent choice for guests looking for Denver, Breckenridge, or Vail rafting trips. 


Hayden Meadows
Class II
Hayden Meadows is great for self-guided float and/or fishing trips. No commercial outfitters run this section; self-guided only.

Pine Creek
Class IV-V+
Pine Creek is the Arkansas River’s most challenging section. Wilderness Aware does not offer this section due to it’s difficulty. See the resources drop down for more info.

The Numbers
Class IV-V
The Numbers is fast-paced, technical with big waves and steep drops.

The Narrows
Class III-IV
The Narrows is rocky, technical with long, exciting rapids.

Milk Run
Class I-II
The Milk Run is short and mild with a few small rapids. Great for kids.

Browns Canyon
Class III-IV
Browns Canyon is full of big, splashy rapids suitable for all skill levels.

Lower Browns Canyon
Class II-III
Lower Browns is a mild section with a handful of small yet exciting rapids.

Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon
Class II-III
Upper Bighorn is a family-friendly section with small, fun rapids.

Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon
Class II-III
Lower Bighorn is a mellow section dotted with small rapids.

Class III-IV
Parkdale is fast-paced with larger, splashy and technical rapids.

Royal Gorge
Class IV-V
The Royal Gorge has high canyon walls and fast-paced, big rapids.

Class I-II
Swallows is a calm, scenic sections that’s great for families. Wilderness Aware does not offer this section due to it’s location. See the resources drop down for more info.



What people are saying

  • Lydia filled us with confidence. She was skilled and knowledgeable and explained each set of rapids so we knew what to expect. She was great company and we had the best experience. She was brilliant.

    Dwight W. Rafter
  • I cannot wait to come back! Also loved how funny all the guides were. It was the most I’ve seen my sister laugh in a long time! Thank you so much for this amazing experience.

    Lexi R. Rafter
  • I spent several days researching various rafting options and after speaking w/your team was sold. We were not disappointed-the trip is spectacular and our guide Sean was informative, lively professional and entertaining.

    Lauren C. Rafter

Photo Gallery

day trips

Browns Canyon Full Day Class III-IV 18 mi. May 1-Sept 2 Age 7+
Browns Canyon Half Day Class III-IV 10 mi. May 1-Sept 2 Age 7+
Lower Browns Canyon Family Half Day Class I-II 9.5 mi. May 1-Sept 2 Age 4+
Narrows Half Day Class III-IV 9 mi. May 15-Aug 15 Age 8+
Narrows Express Full Day Description 26 mi. June 1-July 15 Age 10+
Bighorn Sheep Canyon Half Day Class II-III 6-8 mi. April-Sept Age 6+
Bighorn Sheep Canyon Full Day Class II-III 19 mi. May 27-Aug 13 Age 6+
Arkansas River Dinner Float Class I-II 3.5 mi. May 29-Aug 15 Age 4+

advanced day trips

Numbers Half Day Class IV-V 6 mi. May 15-Aug 20 Age 14+
Numbers Full Day Class IV-V 15 mi. May 15-Aug 15 Age 14+
Royal Gorge Full Day Class IV-V 18 mi. May 27-Aug 13 Age 14+
Royal Gorge Half Day  Class IV-V 10 mi. April-Sept Age 14+
Browns/Numbers Combo Full Day Class III, IV-V 15 mi. May 15-Aug 20 Age 14+

multi-day trips

Inn to Inn Rafting – 2, 3 or 4 Day Class IV-V (V optional) 35-85 mi. May 15-Aug 25 Age 10+
Arkansas River 2-Day Raft/Camping Class III-IV (V optional) 35 mi. May 1-Aug 25 Age 8+
Arkansas River 2-Day Extreme Raft/Camping Class IV-V 33 mi. May 15-Aug 15 Age 14+
Arkansas River 3-Day Raft/Camping Class IV-V (V optional) 68 mi. May 15-Aug 15 Age 8+
Arkansas River 5-Day Raft/Camping Class IV-V (V optional) 90 mi. May 15-Aug 15 Age 8+

arkansas river videos

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