Get out on the water! |

Get out on the water!

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Brian Mitchell, who just moved to Aspen with his family from Rochester, NY, cast his line into Maroon Lake Friday.

Whether you’re looking for a heart-in-your-throat adrenaline rush or just a scenic float, an assortment of local outfitters offer a variety of rafting adventures on nearby rivers.

And, if you’d rather wield a fly rod than an oar while you cruise down one of the fabled local rivers, there are plenty of options to secure a knowledgeable fishing guide for a float trip that abounds in scenic splendor (assuming you can tear your eyes away from the angling action long enough to notice).

Area fishing outfitters offer both wade and float trips, and some book backcountry outings as well. An angler can cover a lot of territory on both the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers with a float trip. Most outfitters offer half- and full-day floats, plus evening floats. The Fryingpan River above Basalt is strictly a wade fishing experience.

The Fryingpan, from the Ruedi Reservoir dam down to Basalt, and the Roaring Fork from Basalt to its confluence with the Colorado in Glenwood Springs are both Gold Medal fisheries. The designation means the 42-mile stretch of water on the two rivers offers some of the best trout fishing in Colorado. It also means catch-and-release regulations are in place. A free copy of Colorado’s fishing regulations are available at local fly shops and City Market stores – anyplace that sells fishing licenses.

If lake fishing is more your style, you’ll find trout in plenty of places. The Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks trout in Ruedi Reservoir east of Basalt, Maroon Lake outside of Aspen and a number of smaller reservoirs and high country lakes in the vicinity.

Fishing licenses are required for anyone who is 16 years of age and older. Annual licenses cost $26 for Colorado residents and $56 for nonresidents. For those fishing during a vacation, a one-day license is available to residents and nonresidents for $9. For nonresidents, a five-day license is also available, for $21.

Trout fishing is most challenging in the spring, once the warming temperatures trigger a rush of melting snow out of the mountains, swelling rivers into a torrent that brings out the whitewater junkies and anyone else who’s game for a wet and wild ride.

The rafting season begins in May for most outfitters and runs through late August or early September, but certain stretches can only be run on a seasonal basis, so check with an outfitter to find out what’s available when you want to go.

While options for a whitewater rafting trip abound, local rivers offer a couple of memorable rides. The Roaring Fork River, when it’s running high enough just below Aspen (spring and early summer), offers the legendary Slaughterhouse Falls – a Class IV, white-knuckle drop to be sure.

The rollicking Shoshone Rapids on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon is arguably the most popular section of local whitewater.

For experienced and fit paddlers, a number of guiding outfits offer Class IV and V trips on the Pine Creek and Numbers sections of the Arkansas River (the faint-hearted need not apply). Keep in mind, a trip to the Arkansas involves a shuttle drive over Independence Pass east of Aspen (a scenic outing in itself).

If a less intense float is more your speed, take a trip on the lower Roaring Fork or enjoy the Colorado via the Grizzly Creek-to-Two Rivers Park route, taking in part of breathtaking Glenwood Canyon. Later in the summer, try a “ducky” trip on the Roaring Fork – a cooling float in an inflatable kayak.

Following is a list of local guiding outfits for both whitewater rafting and fishing.

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