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!