Here’s How it Goes!
Trip: Browns Canyon Half Day
Meeting Place: Wilderness Aware Rafting Headquarters, in Johnson Village near Buena Vista, CO.
Trip: AM Half Day
Show Up Time: 7:45 am – 8:00 am
Trip Departs: 8:30 am
Trip Returns: 11:30 am – 12:00 pm
Trip: PM Half Day
Show Up Time: 12:15 pm – 12:30 pm
Trip Departs: 1:00 pm
Trip Returns: 3:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Our trips start on time, so be sure to allow enough travel time to accommodate mountain driving and road construction!
Rapid Classification: III-IV
Trip Length: 10 miles
Meals Provided: None.
Getting Here: The closest major airports include Colorado Springs (COS) – 2 hours, and Denver (DIA) – 3 hours. You will rent a car to get to Buena Vista as our public transportation is limited. Greyhound bus service arrives daily. Once you are here, contact Corrine, for local transportation service. There is no Uber or Lyft service in Buena Vista.
Season: May – Labor Day
Introduction: A half-day trip in the scenic Browns Canyon National Monument is our most popular river adventure. The moderate whitewater of Browns Canyon is a great introduction to rafting demanding both your attention and muscles as you challenge rapids like Widow-maker, Zoom Flume, Pinball and the Staircase. This section is challenging for the seasoned rafters, yet tame enough for the beginner. Browns Canyon has it all – exciting whitewater and spectacular views of the Collegiate Peaks, Colorado’s highest concentration of 14,000’ mountains.
Preparation: Arrive at our riverside facility just two miles south of Buena Vista, Colorado by 8:00am for the morning departure and 12:30pm for the afternoon trip. Our friendly and knowledgeable office staff will greet you and give you a quick orientation on recommended river attire for the day based on the weather and water conditions as well as what you can bring on your trip. Once your paperwork is signed and verified, and you have decided on cool weather and cold-water rentals, you will be directed to our clean and spacious changing rooms to get changed into your river gear. Once you are dressed and organized, you can lock your dry clothing and valuables in your car and drop your keys in our secure key can. Don’t forget to grab your water bottle and sunscreen! Your guide who will outfit you in a Coast Guard approved PFD (personal floatation device) and provide you with a helmet and paddle.
Departure: At your designated departure time, your trip leader will give you a comprehensive safety orientation with plenty of time for questions. He/she will inform you of possible issues that could happen on the river giving you the confidence needed to handle any challenges that could arise during the trip. We will transport you to the river in our vehicle where you can help unload your boat and trip gear. The guide will rig your raft and teach you how to paddle. Now you are ready to hit the water and start your whitewater adventure.
Scenery: Brown’s Canyon of the Arkansas River is America’s most popular whitewater rafting destination – for good reason. The canyon is made up of Granite rock scattered with pinon pine trees and set off against the clear blue Colorado sky. It is fun to pick out unique granite rock formations, such as Winnie The Pooh with his honey pot or a giant hippo relaxing in the river. With this kind of scenery, it is no wonder that Brown’s canyon has been designated one of Colorado’s newest National Monuments. If you are lucky, you may just catch a glimpse of a deer, Bighorn Sheep or see a Brown Trout shooting out of the water after a quick snack.
When Should I Go? Wilderness Aware opens for rafting May 1, when the river is normally low waiting for the weather to warm and runoff to begin by mid-May. June is our high-water season when the river is swollen with snowmelt. Prepare for a wet and wild ride with towering waves and powerful currents – a wetsuit is a must for rafting during this time of year. July is the most popular month for rafting the Arkansas River, offering moderate water levels and warmer weather. In late August the water levels drop and the river becomes a more technically challenging ride, requiring maneuvers around rocks and drops through narrow chutes. You will be rewarded with the exceptional beauty of the canyon and few people.
Exit: A 30-minute bus ride will return you to our office where you will get changed into your dry clothes. You may view and purchase professionally taken photos of your trip and shop our well stocked retail store for a remembrance of your trip with a T-shirt, hat or other small souvenir. If your experience met or exceeded your expectations, we make it easy to tip your guide. Please take some time when you return home to review us on Trip Advisor, Google and Yelp.