Rafting with Kids

We often get asked: Can I go rafting with kids? In short, our answer is yes, with some trip exceptions and limitations depending on age and weight.

rafting with kids

Our Class II Upper Colorado River trip is appropriate for kids at a minimum age of 4 who weigh 30 pounds or more and who can fit in a Timberline Tours personal floatation device (otherwise known as a pfd or a life jacket). Children ages 6 and older have more trip options including the Class II Upper Colorado River and the Skip the Rapids variation of the Colorado River’s Shoshone section; the regular Shoshone trip may also be appropriate for children ages 6-8. Children ages 8 and older are welcome to go rafting on the Shoshone and Browns Canyon rafting trips, with minimum weight limitations.

Planning a family-friendly Vail rafting trip? Here’s what you need to know about rafting with kids on these sections of river:

Vail Rafting With Kids Age 4 and Above

The UPPER COLORADO RIVER is our top pick for Vail rafting kids age 4 and above who have advanced mobility and a minimum weight of 30 pounds. While kids can develop differently, we generally see that as kids reach and beyond, they’re able to meet the physical requirements of this trip with the help of family members or adult guardians also in the raft.

Our most important consideration for rafting with kids is safety. For this reason, we require toddlers to wear a Timberline Tours-provided personal floatation device (commonly called a pfd or life jacket). Kids who weigh 30 pounds and above generally meet this requirement. Physical requirements of this trip include being able to climb in and out of the raft safely. Once on the raft, toddlers will need to be able to sit up in the raft and respond to the directions of guides. The river shore can also be rocky, so toddlers may need the help of adults while navigating uneven terrain.

Once on the river, guests of all ages will enjoy the Class II Upper Colorado River. This incredibly scenic stretch of river makes for a relaxing rafting float trip combined with a few splashy rapids. Rafts are equipped with oars on Upper Colorado River trips so that guides can maneuver the boat through sections of slow-flowing current.

Upper Colorado River age and weight minimums: The Upper Colorado River is generally suitable for kids age 4 and above who weigh 30 or more pounds and can fit in a Timberline Tours-provided personal floatation device.

Vail Rafting With Children

RAFTING AND DINOSAUR DISCOVERY, SHOSHONE, and BROWNS CANYON are our top Vail rafting trips for children. Age minimums for these trips vary from 6 to 8 years old, with some exceptions, and the following weight minimums also apply.

RAFTING AND DINOSAUR DISCOVERY is a family-friendly trip that’s open to adventurers ages 4-6 and above. Discover the history of dinosaurs along the Colorado River basin, see evidence of these mighty creatures, and have a hands-on fossil dig experience. With part of the day spent rafting on the Upper Colorado River and part of the day spent on a fossil dig at the Fossil Posse base camp, this educational adventure turns the Vail area into an outdoor classroom like no other. | Rafting and Dinosaur Discovery minimum age: 4-6; minimum weight: 30 pounds.

SHOSHONE – SKIP THE RAPIDS: The Skip the Rapids option of Timberline’s regular Shoshone rafting trip makes this stretch of river appropriate for children ages 6-8 years old. The regular Shoshone trip begins with a mile-long section of rapids that include Class III whitewater rapids, and children ages 6-8 can join in on the fun after the biggest of the rapids for a splashy and incredibly scenic float through Glenwood Canyon. | Shoshone – Skip the Rapids minimum age: 6-8; minimum weight: 50 pounds. 

Timberline’s SHOSHONE trip is appropriate for children ages 6-8 and older, and the weight minimum for this trip is also 50 pounds. Children between the ages of 6-8 might be a better fit for the Skip the Rapids option (described above), but some children who are active and athletic will be able to sustain the physical demands of the Class III rapids on this trip. If you have any questions about whether the Skip the Rapids or the regular Shoshone trip is a better fit for your child, please call us to consult. | Shoshone minimum age: 6-8; minimum weight: 50 pounds.

Colorado River Shosone Rapid Glenwood Springs

BROWNS CANYON is a classic Class III family-friendly trip that’s a good choice for rafting with kids. The trip will take you through the heart of Browns Canyon National Monument, an area known for its incredible mountain scenery and wildlife. While you’ll get the experience of paddling through some big and splashy rapids, you’ll also have some time to relax and enjoy mountain views and a riverside lunch. The Class III rapids on this stretch of river are more sustained than on other stretches that are appropriate for children, so it’s a good fit for active, athletic children and parents. | Browns Canyon minimum age: 8; minimum weight: 50 pounds.

Please note: These age and weight minimums can vary depending on water level. Please call our offices for advice or to discuss age requirements closer to your trip date: (970) 476-1414.

River Rafting Class Ratings Explained
What to Wear Vail Rafting
Common Rafting Paddling Commands
Vail Rafting Safety


Timberline Tours is Vail’s premier whitewater rafting and backcountry jeep tours outfitter. We offer rafting trips on Colorado’s Eagle, Colorado, and Arkansas Rivers, and we also guide duckie river trips. All of our guided trips are open to Vail visitors, locals, families, and corporate groups.

To book your Vail, Colorado, adventure, call Timberline Tours at (970) 476-1414, or email us at info@timberlinetours.com.