Colorado rafters spent at record levels last year, outfitters ready for another big season |

Colorado rafters spent at record levels last year, outfitters ready for another big season

Jason Blevins
The Denver Post
Rafters rip through whitewater on the Roaring Fork River last August.
Brett Friel/courtesy photo |

Aspen Whitewater Rafting opening this weekend

Aspen Whitewater Rafting announced Thursday that it’s opening May 14-15 for the season, with more rafting trips available by the middle of next week. The 10-mile long section known as the Upper Roaring Fork, located just 10 minutes from downtown Aspen, is clear of debris and is flowing at the appropriate levels required for commercial rafting trips.

The temperatures have been increasing since earlier this week, allowing the snowmelt to accelerate and fill our local rivers with this summers’ highly anticipated runoff, the company’s press release stated.

The Upper Roaring Fork is currently running at a 680 CFS (cubic feet per second), which is well above the needed flow to raft this particular section of river.

Aspen Whitewater Rafting is currently running a local’s special through June 15. Locals can raft the Upper Roaring Fork Half Day or the Slaughter House Falls half-day trips for $49 per person, which includes beer and snacks. Aspen Whitewater Rafting anticipates the popular Slaughter House Falls section, which offers some of the best Class IV rapids in the state, to open toward the middle of next week.

Pre-season 15% off discounts apply to all trips booked by May 15.

Commercial rafting remained a strong economic driver in Colorado’s high country last year with the state’s outfitters logging more than a half million user days for the sixth time in a decade.

The 508,728 commercial raft trips on 29 stretches of Colorado rivers generated $162.6 million in economic impact in 2015, setting a new record just above the economic benefit estimated for the 2014 season.

Rafting outfitters are thinking the coming season will be about the same, thanks largely to the snowy April that bolstered alpine snowpacks and the recent cool weather keeping that snow from melting too early.

“We don’t want the melt to start until the crowds get here,” said David Costlow, executive director of the Colorado River Outfitters Association, which released its annual user report on Thursday.

The Arkansas River from above Buena Vista through Salida to Cañon City remains the state’s powerhouse. Traffic was up 3 percent on the most-rafted stretch of river in the country, with 197,000 user days in 2015. This created an overall economic impact of $62.5 million in Chaffee and Fremont counties.

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