In the headwaters of the Roaring Fork, the snow melts and heads downstream, gathering speed and making perfect river trip conditions for rafters of every skill.
The Rocky Mountains mean rocky rivers, and there are exhilarating splashes and close encounters with local wildlife. Just a stone’s throw from Snowmass you can experience all the river has to offer. From the boulder fields the river runs through to the lazy flows of the valley floor, you can’t ask for anything better than a day on the water.
For the adrenaline junkie, there are plenty of places where the river has carved some rip-roaring rapids. Outfitters and locals look forward to runoff, when the section furthest up the Roaring Fork Valley, affectionately called Slaughterhouse is at its peak. This Class IV/V features quick moves around rocks and waterfall plunges, and don’t worry Hell’s Half Mile is not as bad as it sounds. As the river moves down the valley the Upper Fork mellows a touch but maintains its cascades with rapids like Toothache and Anderson Falls.
As the river widens, the Lower Fork is the family-friendly go-to. Starting from Carbondale, you can sit back and meander through the bends below Mount Sopris. Don’t worry, you won’t be bored as this section still requires paddling and not to mention the probability of wildlife on this section, from deer to Bald Eagles, so keep your eyes on the shore and sky.
Downriver, in either direction, are bigger rivers with more options as well. To the east is the Arkansas River, with intimidating class V sections and more moderate Brown’s Canyon. To the west is the mighty Colorado River. you can experience the swift rapids of Shoshone and wind through the towering canyons of Grizzly. And though both of these rivers are further distances, outfitters will pick you up at your hotel in Snowmass and deliver you door to door.
For those looking to be a little closer to the water, there are guided SUP (standup paddleboard trips) on Northstar Nature Preserve near Aspen. No matter which river section you select, outfitters will provide helmets, floatation devices, and wetsuits. Even on the warmest summer days, the water was snow not that long ago, so dress to get splashed.
Visit BlazingAdventures.com to book your rafting experience.