Durango Whitewater Rafting

Mild2wildrafting_Durango Whitewater Rafting
Photo: Mild 2 Wild Rafting

Spring is here, which means the snow is starting to melt, which means Colorado rivers are filling up, which means one thing: RAFTING SEASON.

The Animas River is one of Colorado’s major rafting rivers, and whitewater rafting on the Animas River is always a trip. People of all ages and abilities can enjoy rafting on the Animas because the river offers a wide range of rapids, from calm and cool to sassy and splashy. No, those aren’t technical terms.

Whitewater rafting trips on the Lower Animas are less dramatic than the Upper Animas, making the lower section of the river perfect for family-friendly floats. Depending on the time of year and the river’s flow, the Lower Animas is generally rated Class 2 to Class 3 rapids, so rafters will enjoy floating down some calm sections in between bouncing through (relatively easy) whitewater such as the Smelter, Santa Rita and Pinball rapids.

Uh, this is the Upper Animas. Just FYI. Photo: Mountain Waters Rafting.

Visitors may want to leave the Upper Animas for the more advanced rafters. Along this 12-mile stretch through Animas Canyon, the river runs past several of the San Juan Mountains’ 13,000-foot peaks. Typically categorized as Class 3 to Class 5 rapids, the Upper Animas is  one of the most advanced stretches of commercial river in the nation when the water is running high. Veteran rafters can tackle adrenaline-pumping rapids with terrifying meal-themed names like Dinner Gorge and Lunch Box. Does that mean the river is going to eat us up?

Durango was built on the banks of the Animas, so the city is the best base for your rafting trip. (We recommend staying at the Durango Quality Inn, not that we’re biased or anything.) River levels usually peak in May and June with the spring runoff, but the river is fun to raft all summer. Now is the best time to start planning your rafting trip because the floats do book up — even with the many Durango rafting companies. We would try to list all of Durango’s rafting companies for you, but there are simply too many, and we have things to do.

Whether you come to Durango specifically for the rafting or just want to try it while you’re here, be sure to book your room at the Durango Quality Inn for easy access to the river and to any of the awesome Durango rafting companies.

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