Big rafting season along Colorado, Roaring Fork rivers after strong winter

Taylor Cramer
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A Blue Sky Rafting boat makes its way down the Colorado River.
Taylor Cramer/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Following a big winter, the rafting season has shaped into prime condition for those looking to get out onto the water.

The spring season’s runoff has been among the highest some observers have seen since the 1980s.

Defiance Rafting owner Gregory Cowan said this year’s conditions are more than he could ask for. 

“It’s been a wonderful start to the season,” he said. “The weather broke at the right time when we started at the beginning of May, and it has made it possible for any level rafter to have the opportunity to enjoy the waters.”

The run-off has provided rafters and kayakers the soothing waters and fierce rapids that have made Glenwood Springs and the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley a staple for thrill-seekers and even-tempered explorers alike.

The region saw up to a 200% increase in median snowpack, according to the U.S.Natural Resources Conservation Service.

With a statewide drought that has lasted decades, Middle Colorado Watershed Council Executive Director Paula Stepp said this year’s water levels could very well be considered an anomaly.

“I have lived in this valley a long time, and I haven’t seen these types of water levels since the ’80s,” she said. “Having a great year is amazing to see, but by no means does it mean that this drought is over.”

Glenwood Adventure Company CEO Ken Murphy said that this year will be long season for those looking to indulge in whitewater rafting.

“What has made Glenwood Springs so popular for whitewater rafting is the variety that those looking to participate have been given,” he said. “With these high water levels, we are looking at having a good chance at having a longer season for people to enjoy this community’s waters, but it really depends on how the rest of the summer season shapes out.”

While this rafting season looks promising, he said, there are not promises.

“It’s a contemplating industry,” he said. “Mother Nature is our boss during the summer season, and so we have to hope everything goes in our favor for the continuation of this season.”

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