So Much Fun Whitewater Rafting with Performance Tours!

Going white water rafting has been on the bucket list and this summer we crossed it off our list while vacationing in Keystone, Colorado.  We had the most amazing experience with Performance Tours! They offer several trips in different areas, all within an hour or two of Keystone Resort.  The closest rafting trip was the Blue River half day, but we wanted a full day trip, so we looked at the Royal Gorge Full Day and The Brown’s Canyon Full Day trips.  The Royal Gorge is a little further away from Keystone and the rafting is a little more challenging than Brown’s Canyon. Since it was our first time rafting, we decided on the Brown’s Canyon Full Day.  It costs $98 for a child and $108 for an adult, but as SummitCove guests, we got a special discount for everyone in our group!


We met our guide at the Performance Tours Boat House in Buena Vista, at 10:00 am and then we shuttled to the put in at Fisherman’s Bridge.  Everyone was chatting about it being a perfect blue sky Colorado day and the views of the Collegiate Peaks were astounding. It was amazing how many companies and people were all there at the put in and yet how quickly we still got out on the river.  Our guide gave us a safety talk and told us she had been guiding this part of the Arkansas River as well as the Royal Gorge for 5 years. I felt confident in her abilities and she was super friendly and had vast knowledge of the river.  


The river was fast moving and our guide was shouting paddle commands at us and we were following her directions with wide eyes!  Our guide had complete control of the raft. It would look like we were going to hit a rock and then at the last second she would turn the boat and we would skim past the rock and catch the current, it was so exciting!  This stretch of river has several class 3+ rapids and I was launched out of the boat in the rapid called Pinball. I was paddling and the next thing I knew I was in the river, completely under water. Before I had a chance to freak out I looked up through the water and I was right next to the boat.  I could see our guide. Before my head was above water I reached my hand up and our guide grabbed my life jacket and before I knew it she pulled me back in the boat. I was in and out of the river so quick, it was like it never even happened. I had an incredible rush of adrenaline and I am grateful for the quick response of our raft guide.  She was awesome and saved me from a nasty swim!  

Brown's Canyon Rafting Whitewater Rapids


We stopped for lunch, on a sandy beach, on the side of the river and had make our own sandwiches, with all the fixings.  I don’t know if it was the swim I had or the mountain air but that was the best sandwich I ever ate. After lunch we continued on and hit more rapids, with the last rapid being Seidel’s Suckhole.  Our guide said it is named that because years ago a guy named Seidel got sucked into the hole and he is still down there! We nailed that hole and fortunately everyone stayed in the boat and noone got to meet Seidel.


The joke became that the swimmers had to buy beer at the end of the trip and I was the only swimmer that day, so it looked like the beer was on me.  We shuttle back to Performance Tours Boat House and I ran and got some beers and we sat out on the deck with the guides and the other paddlers on our trip, recapped our awesome day and looked at our pictures from the trip.


Thanks to Performance Tours white water rafting is crossed off our bucket list but it left us wanting more.  So we added rafting the Royal Gorge to our bucket list. We will be back to do the Full Day Royal Gorge Trip with Performance Tours.  They take safety and having fun seriously. We have an amazing story to tell and an adventure we will never forget! Thanks Performance Tours, for the thrill of a lifetime!


A Whitewater Rafting Adventure with Performance Tours at Brown’s Canyon

Each year, the SummitCove Lodging team is lucky enough to go on a group rafting trip with our rafting partner, Performance Tours.  Typically we go at the beginning of the summer, in early June when the snow-melt is strong and the waters are fast and huge.  This year, our trip was scheduled for July 13, which is later in the season and we weren’t sure what to expect.  We were booked for a half day at Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River, near Buena Vista, Colorado which is about an hour and a half from Keystone Resort.



We had been receiving alot of rain the week before our trip and that made the water levels rise and made for an excellent rafting trip!  Some of our team choose to camp out in Buena Vista the night before the trip and we all arrived at the Performance Tours Outpost, just South of downtown Buena Vista around 9:30 am for the 10 am half-day trip.  We were greeted by friendly faces in the parking lot as we received directions on where to change and given the waiver forms we needed to sign.  We were then outfitted with life jackets, helmets, and paddles and offered the options of wet suits, splash jackets and booties.  The weather was warm since it was later in the season, so I opted for just the splash jacket and I was comfortable the whole trip.  We soon boarded the bus and were on our way! During the short bus ride, we were given a thorough safety briefing and we all felt a tiny bit nervous but mostly excited for the upcoming trip!


The bus pulled in and we all hopped off and helped load the rafts down the ramp into the water. After a quick stop at the restrooms, we all split up into our separate boats, met our guides and got ready to paddle! Our guide’s name was Koreen and she was awesome!  She was a very experienced rafter, with years on the river and we felt totally safe in her hands.  She told us stories as we floated along, enjoying the gorgeous scenery and the warm sunshine with a few easy paddles here and there.  Koreen pointed out rock formations that have been named over the years, such as ‘Full Moon Rock’ and ‘Sleeping Lion’ for their uncanny similarities to humans and animals.  After we coasted awhile through the calm waters, pointing out our ‘river dream homes’, she let us know we were approaching the first rapids and that they would come quicker and faster from here on out! She also explained before each rapid where the best place to swim and find safety would be in case we did happen to go overboard.



Our team worked together to paddle in unison to point our raft in the right direction, carefully working the rapids to our advantage, weaving in and out of rocks and eddies and twists and turns throughout the river. Sitting in the front seat is definately the best – yes, you do get wet, but boy is it fun!  You’ve got front row seats to the biggest splashes, the best action and an adrenaline rush to the max! We paddled hard, laughed and smiled through some of the best rapids in the US!  Brown’s Canyon was the perfect mixture of classic Colorado beauty and fun, fast rapids with some down time to enjoy the views!


When we came to the ‘Zume Flume’ rapid we were warned that this could be the one that might sink us! We accepted the challenge and were able to make it through, thanks to our experienced guide. Some of our other team members on different boats weren’t so lucky and went for a dip! Our boat was soon the rescue boat and we quickly paddled to reach one of the swimmers and pulled her in. What a blast! Further down the river we regrouped and then reached another calm section and were offered the chance to swim (by choice!).



Before we knew it, we were heading through the last rapids group of rapids, called ‘7 stairs’, which are a series of 7 rapids stretching down towards the tail end of this trip.  We were all sad to have to get off the boats!  Fortunately, we are just a little over an hour away from these great whitewater rapids and hopefully will be able to get back on the river again soon. The bus took us back to the outpost and we got to look at our pictures!


Performance Tours is one of the best rafting outfitters in the area, with a superb safety record and a wonderful staff that makes you feel like you are part of their family.  All SummitCove Lodging guests receive 10% off their rafting trips with Performance Tours. There is also an option to have them pick you up from your Keystone accommodations so you don’t have to have a rental car or worry about driving! It is a ‘must-do’ for any Colorado Mountain vacation. There are lots of different trip options available in addition to Brown’s Canyon, some with even more rapids and whitewater and others that stick to the ‘float-trip’ style which is great for older folks or groups with young kids. What are you waiting for? Visit Keystone this summer and enjoy a whitewater rafting trip with Performance Tours!