Top Trip Picks: Best Colorado Whitewater Rafting

Vail locals and visitors find themselves surrounded by some of the best Colorado whitewater rafting. In this area, three rivers cut through scenic valleys and high mountain peaks, making Vail rafting the best Colorado whitewater rafting for those who want a variety of options that range from fun and family-friendly to exciting and intense.

The Eagle, Colorado, and Arkansas Rivers near Vail have stretches of whitewater that appeal to all kinds of adventurers. From splashy rapids to churning waves, Vail’s rivers capture the best of Colorado whitewater rafting. Read on for our top trip picks to help you choose the best fit for your group, and then join Timberline Tours on the river.

Best Colorado Rafting for Relaxing with Friends

UPPER COLORADO RIVER: The Colorado River captures the elemental essence of Colorado’s natural beauty, and the Timberline Tours Upper Colorado River rafting trip goes along at a slow enough pace that you can take it all in and enjoy the views. This scenic float trip near Vail is great for relaxing with family and friends, and it’s a good rafting trip for all ages. In the early summer season, some paddling might be required, but most of the summer, those on the raft can simply relax while guides navigate the boat and share stories along the way.

Whitewater Rafting Upper Colorado River

Best Colorado Rafting for Adrenaline Seekers

PINE CREEK & THE NUMBERS: The combo Pine Creek and The Numbers sections of the Arkansas River offer intensity and excitement that bold and athletic paddlers will relish. This section of whitewater has a river rafting class rating of V- / IV, so everyone on this rafting trip can expect to encounter areas requiring physical commitment and high-intensity paddling.

Best Colorado Rafting for Family-Friendly Fun

RAFTING & DINOSAUR DISCOVERY: This family-friendly trip is an educational adventure like no other. 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, the Vail area transforms into an outdoor classroom. On our Rafting and Dinosaur Discovery trip, adventurers of all ages will learn more about the history of dinosaurs along the Colorado River basin, see evidence of these mighty creatures, and have a hands-on fossil dig experience. Plus, it’s fun and educational for parents, too.

best colorado whitewater rafting

SHOSHONE: The Shoshone section of the Colorado River is family-friendly to begin with, but we also offer a few options on this trip to accommodate adventurers of all ages. The Shoshone Double Thriller is best for those looking for a more intense paddling experience; on the Double Thriller afternoon rafting trip, you’ll get to run the best of the rapids two times, with different variations each time. The Skip the Rapids option is best for those who would like to have a less intense rafting trip, and it is the required option for those who do not meet age and weight minimums for the regular Shoshone trip.

Best Colorado Rafting for Scenic Canyon Views

BROWNS CANYON: A full-day rafting trip on the Arkansas River, Browns Canyon provides an opportunity for some of the best Colorado whitewater rafting near Vail that highlights classic Colorado canyon and mountain views along the way. Plus, the riverside lunch also gives paddlers a chance to hang out in the canyon and enjoy the beautiful scenery that’s a marker of this national monument. Granite cliffs, colorful rock outcroppings, the canyon, and the river—of course—will make this rafting trip one you won’t forget.

Colorado River Shosone Rapid Glenwood Springs

SHOSHONE: The Shoshone section of the Colorado River runs through Glenwood Canyon, a place of stunning Colorado beauty. Glenwood Canyon was carved by the river’s flowing waters more than 3 million years ago, and rock cliffs rise up to heights of 1,300 feet above the surface of the Colorado River. In total, Glenwood Canyon is a bit longer than 12 miles, and the Shoshone rafting trip begins just above a mile-long section of Class III (intermediate intensity) rapids. After you’ve paddled through the rapids, you’ll be able to take it all in as you float across calm waters through the canyon all the way to Glenwood Springs, the end destination of this exciting river journey.

Beyond these top picks for the best Colorado whitewater rafting, Timberline Tours is also willing to work with you to create customized adventures, private rafting trips, and rafting trips for corporate groups if you have something extra special in mind.


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