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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: I-II

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: Lower Browns Canyon is the perfect option for families with young children, ages 4+, as well as those that want to raft but are not interested in big splashy rapids. Our goal is to create excitement for the sport of whitewater rafting without the bigger rapids possibly scaring the less experienced or timid members of the family.

Preparation: Arrive at our riverside facility just two miles south of Buena Vista, Colorado by 8:00 am for the morning departure and 12:30 pm for the afternoon trip. Our friendly and knowledgeable office staff will greet you and give you a quick orientation on what you can bring on your trip and on recommended river attire for the day based on the weather and water conditions. 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.

The River: The river is fast moving here with just enough whitewater to keep the whole family entertained. You will encounter fun rapids like Squaw Creek, the three-step slide of the Boat Chute, and the Salida play park where you may see the kayakers play. There is plenty of time for water fights on this adventure.   

Scenery: Lower Browns Canyon of the Arkansas River is just below the Browns Canyon National Monument. Huge cottonwood trees line the river and irrigated green pastures make a beautiful foreground view of the alpine scenery. There are stunning views of the Sawatch Mountains.  

When Should I Go? Wilderness Aware opens for rafting on May 1, before the runoff begins in mid-May. June is our high-water season when the river is swollen with snowmelt. Prepare for a wet and wilder ride – 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 when wetsuits are replaced with swimsuits and water guns. In late August the water levels drop, and the river becomes a more technically challenging ride.

Exit: A 30-minute bus ride will return you to our office where you will get changed into your dry clothes.  You can 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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