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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My brother my dad and me are trying to plan a trip to go rafting and camping in colorado next year. I have experience backpacking and guided rafting. They have been rafting before but have not had many opportunities to backpack. All three of us are fit and are looking for something exciting. We have never been to Colorado before. Does anyone have any suggestions for a 7 day rafting/ camping trip in colorado that would take us to awe inspiring locations and exciting rapids. We don't want to die, but we are looking for some thrills when it comes to rafting. Thanks for y'alls help!
 

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There isn't going to be a ton of water in Colorado this year, so I would suggest you look at the state's namesake river, the Colorado. It is also the state's most reliable river. There are many nice options in the river's upper stretches. Here is a BLM guide breaking down river miles, campsites, access points and rapids:

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/media..._documents.Par.48241.File.dat/up_colo_riv.pdf

With seven days you could potentially float all the way from Pumphouse to Dotsero (66 miles). You would mostly be floating easy water, but there are several class II's and a couple class III's. Also there is some hiking available in a few spots with the highlight being the Bull Gulch Wilderness Study Area on river left a short ways below Pinball rapid.

There is also some additional information on American Whitewater:

American Whitewater - CO State Rivers

Hope that helps!
 

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This might be a once in a lifetime family trip so I would be thinking about something in Idaho. The Main or Middle Salmon or the Selway for example. The Upper Colorado is convenient water for folks in CO but a world class wilderness whitewater experience it's not. If you need to stay in CO or Utah think about the Green or Yampa in Dinasaur NP.
 

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There are a lot of good hike options on Ruby/Horsethief.... on the Colorado. You need to apply for a Westwater permit and tie the two sections together. Ruby/horsethief needs a permit too. Good luck.
 

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I agree, the Upper Colorado might be a good bet. You can rent anything you might need for the river at the 'Rancho Del Rio' put-in, as well as arrange for shuttles...

Note: the upper section gets pretty heavy use with commercial trips and day floaters, so it's not exactly a wilderness experience. It might be the busiest boat ramp in all of Colorado. The crowds thin out as you float down below Rancho Del Rio. There is a dirt road and a rail line that follow the river for most of the upper section, this means you are competing with car campers to find a camp site and you get to listen to trains all night.

Gore Canyon (above the Pumphouse put-in) is nice day hike with less crowds.

Rancho Del Rio - Not Your Usual Resort

Unfortunately any non-permitted river in Colorado is going to be busy. If it were me I would consider separating the backpacking and river stuff. I would do day trips on the busy river then find some isolation on the backpacking trips. There are many, many miles of good backpacking in the area.
 

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Since you are looking at next year, watch the snow pack and seriously consider the Dolores. You can easily do a 5 day without getting into more than a III-IV.

Hiking in that area is truly hiking in Gods country. And the thing is, if the runoff doesn't cooperate you can still spend a week hiking in the area/ running the Colorado through Westwater or even get in Cataract, but it sounds like that might be more intense than you are looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I appreciate all the responses! Is there any options for a guide that would possibly go with us? I also don't know if backpacking is the best term for what we are trying to do. My dad is coming up on 60 so we probably wouldn't be able to cover much ground. That being said, he is still physically fit enough to handle rafting. I think what we are looking for is a guided rafting/ camping trip. We could definitely hike to during the day, to check out some vista's. I don't know if i'm articulating the distinction adequately, but my experience backpacking is a more intense then what I think he is capable or interested in.
 

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I gave up backpacking years ago when I discovered whitewater rafting and kayaking. You can get just as far into the wilderness as backpacking but at the end of the day you are eating steaks and drinking cold beer. You can't beat that.
 

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I gave up backpacking years ago when I discovered whitewater rafting and kayaking. You can get just as far into the wilderness as backpacking but at the end of the day you are eating steaks and drinking cold beer. You can't beat that.
I'm with you, and I'm nowhere near 60! :lol:
 

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If you want a guided trip I would look into booking a seat on a comercial guided trip such as Gates of Lodore (green river) or the Yampa. Both of these trips start in the state of Colorado (Dinasaur National Monument) and finish in Utah.

The commercial trips have space for 20 or so clients and 4-5 pro guides rowing the rafts. Some outstanding scenery for the whole trip with lots of good side hikes. On a commercial trip all you do is set up your own tent each night and the guides take care of everything else. Both of these trips have enough white water in the class III and IV range to make them exciting yet safe. You can book a commercial trip with just a few weeks/days lead time.

If you are more interested in a private trip you could apply for a river permit lottery (deadline for permit application is Jan/Feb for trips the following spring, so this years permits are already filled.) If you hold a permit you can find LOTS of folks that would join your trip and act as guides. A post on the Buzz would result in dozens of skilled boaters willing to help ouit.

You don't need any river experience to be the permit holder, but someone in the group needs to act as 'Trip Leader' and have the required skills and background. Private trips cannot involve payment or fees outside of the shared group expences (hence the private vs. commercial permit types.) You can always return the permit if you can't assemble a group.

Here is somemore info on permits Western river trips... lots of good pic's too.
rivergeek western river permits

Ladore, Yampa, Westwater, Dolores, Ruby/Horsethief all start in Colorado.
note: Dolores has a narrow window of good water flows and may not run at all in a drought year.
 

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I kind of doubt the Upper Colorado is what you are looking for in a raft trip you are travelling cross country to do. It's kind of a shitshow with lots of people during the day and then trains and drunk, off duty day trip river guides floating by in the middle of the night. It's a good off season place to go if you are local but that's about it. A seven day trip is reaching for that stretch, in my opinion.

Problem is that Colorado is just not a great, big,remote, week long, multi day raft trip state. Beyond the Yampa, you basically need to move into Utah and beyond.

In regards to the Dolores, it basically never runs due to dam control and those with their fingers on the knob are not rafter friendly one bit. If it does run then how long it runs is extremely unpredictable and short around Memorial Day to put it mildly. So beware of that trip.


You might want to also browse this list of trips for commercial trip options in the West and see if it suits your budget,offerings of easy day hikes, ect too. Plenty of other great outfitters out there beyond them. These guys are just on allot of the big, western multi day rivers for a quick reference.
Whitewater Rafting Trips; White Water Rafting Tours; River Rafting: O.A.R.S.
 

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Idaho is definitely more of what you are wanting. Wilderness weeklong trips in awesome places. Main Salmon or Middle Fork Salmon would be great trips. My commercial outfitter of choice is Canyons Inc. based in McCall Idaho. Top notch folks that I know quite well. If any of you are fly fishermen, then the Middle Fork is the trip to choose for sure. PM me if you want more info.
KJ
 

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Does anyone have any suggestions for a 7 day rafting/ camping trip in colorado that would take us to awe inspiring locations and exciting rapids. We don't want to die, but we are looking for some thrills when it comes to rafting. Thanks for y'alls help!
Cataract Canyon on the Colorado sounds like the trip for you. Lots of solitude, 7 day trip, lots of hiking in Canyon Lands NP, awe inspiring location and exciting rapids. Depending on the water level and your skills oaring a boat, you will have certainly get your whitewater thrills. Just be prepared for the row out once you hit the slack water from Lake Powell.
 

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Knowing a little more what your after, I'd like to throw out Deso/ Gray canyons on the Green as a suggested destination with lots of hiking and Indian ruins, petrogliph panels to see. I wish I had an outfitter recommendation......but I don't. As others have pointed out, Yampa or Gates of Ladore are also two must do's to see the sheer beauty of a place like Dinosaur National Monument. For the biggest rapids in Utah try Cataract Canyon. Lots of outfitters in Moab do that run.

I've only done the Selway, but anything in Idaho that others have mentioned will be worth it too.

I agree to stay away from the Upper C. Ruby/Horsethief is more for a do it yourselfer that you can stretch to 5 or 6 days with a Westwater permit too. Enjoy.
 

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Considering your not set on Colorado and the trip is far enough out to apply for a permit I would throw the San Juan out there. I think the scenery and hiking is as good as anywhere and there are a few rapids but not overwhelmingly difficult ones. Just another option to consider.
 

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Middle fork of the salmon (idaho)6 day commercial raft trip would be the best raft trip in the west for what you have described as the folks on the trip and what you are looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
We do need a guide and gear, but we are not really interested in doing something with a group of 24 people. Is that possible?
 

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We do need a guide and gear, but we are not really interested in doing something with a group of 24 people. Is that possible?
If you go with an outfitter, then you may end up on a full trip, which means 24 people on the Main Salmon. The outfitters prefer to fill their trips if possible. That's how they make a living. Your two alternatives would be to search for an outfitter who runs smaller trips, or get a group of friends and buy out a trip, which would be expensive. Your chances of finding a private boater with space for out of town strangers on their permit are slim. Most private boaters have a crew already in place for their trips, and excepting any kind of payment on a private trip is a huge no-no. Permits for most western wilderness weeklong trips are by lottery draw and not easy to get. You could always put in for a permit and rent gear in Idaho or Utah if you get lucky and draw a permit. A guide for that trip is a whole other matter. Not sure how you'd find someone? I'd still recommend the outfitter, but just talk to a few and a sense of what trips/dates might be less full.
KJ
 

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Seeing as how Colorado is becoming less and less of an option for you, I am going to change the title to make it more fitting. Might help get more responses too.
 
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