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Meeting Place: Wilderness Aware Rafting Headquarters, in Johnson Village near Buena Vista, CO.

Trip: Full Day
Show Up Time: 7:45 am – 8:00 am
First Half of Trip Departs: 8:30 am
Return to Office for Lunch: 11:30 am
Second Half of Trip Departs: 12:45 pm
Trip Returns: 4:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Our trips start on time, so be sure to allow enough travel time to accommodate mountain driving and road construction!

Rapid Classification: III-V

Trip Length: 15 miles 

Meals Provided: Delicious deli-style sandwich lunch.

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 15 – August 20 

Introduction: Our Browns / Numbers Combo trip offers our two best whitewater sections into one action packed day. Your trip begins in the moderate whitewater of Browns Canyon where you can get comfortable in the raft and get your group paddling together as a team. This class III-IV pool-drop section is a great warm-up for the more extreme class IV-V rapids of the Numbers. This world-class, adrenaline pumping section of river is the most intense whitewater on the Arkansas. Bring your “A” game for this one. 

Preparation: Arrive at our riverside facility just two miles south of Buena Vista, Colorado by 8:00 am. You will be greeted by our friendly and knowledgeable office staff who will give you a quick orientation on recommended attire for your day on the river based on the weather and water conditions. We have a small bag for extra items you may want to bring. Once your paperwork is signed and verified, and you have decided on cool weather and cold-water rentals, (we almost always recommend wetsuits in the Numbers) 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 flotation device) and provide you with a helmet and paddle.

Departure: At 8:30 am, your trip leader will present you with a comprehensive safety orientation with plenty of time for questions. You will be informed 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.

The River: We start with Browns Canyon, the most popular whitewater rafting destination in America. The character of this section is challenging to seasoned rafters yet forgiving for beginners, taking you through rapids like Widow-maker, Pinball, Zoom Flume, and Raft Ripper. It is a great opportunity to get your team paddling like the pros in preparation for the afternoon whitewater.

We return to Wilderness Aware’s office for a delicious deli-style lunch prepared by your guides, complete with hors d’oeuvres and dessert. Enjoying a well-deserved lunch break gives you time to dry out and stretch your legs while soaking in the sweeping mountain views. You will have access to our clean bathrooms and a hot coffee or cocoa from our breakfast bar. Once you are full and ready for more action, we will load back up into your shuttle vehicle and drive upstream for the heart pounding whitewater of the Numbers.

Get ready for HOT ACTION round two! There is only a short time to practice the skills needed to handle one of the toughest sections of the Arkansas. Within half a mile you’ll begin a series of rapids that will test your skill, concentration and endurance. The rapids in the not-so-creatively-named Numbers section are named “One” through “Seven”. They are big, rocky, and steep.  There’s not much time to catch your breath or dry off as you conquer these demanding rapids.  You may even have an opportunity to try river “surfing” in the Trash Can!

Scenery: Browns Canyon is a boulder strewn canyon decorated with pinon pine trees. It feels remote despite civilization being only a short hike away. The Numbers launches above 8000’ in altitude and is lined with cottonwood trees making it greener than Browns Canyon. You will travel next to the old Colorado Midland Railroad route, and if you look fast you can catch a glimpse of the Collegiate Peaks Mountain Range. 

When Should I Go? We offer this trip starting May 15 when the snow melts and the river starts to rise. In June, when the river is swollen with snow melt, prepare for a wet and wild ride with towering waves and powerful currents – a wetsuit is required for rafting at this time of year. There is a safety cut off for the Numbers. If the river rises above that level in June, we will move your trip to an open section of river.

July is the most popular month for rafting the Arkansas River, offering moderate water levels and warmer weather. As the river warms, wetsuits disappear and are replaced by swimsuits, providing opportunities to splash fight with new friends or even swim a rapid! 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 river.

Exit: A shuttle 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. 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.

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