The Best Rafting and Kayaking Close to Denver

Two people paddling kayaks on a lake with trees in the background.

When it comes to rafting and kayaking close to Denver, you have got to head to the source. And by that, we mean the source of one of North America's greatest rivers, the Colorado. Originating in Grand County, the Colorado River has been thrilling rafters and kayakers for its entire course ever since these endeavors became recreational sports. And the stretches around Hot Sulphur Springs, Kremmling and Gore Canyon are no exception. Below, we've rounded up four of the best places to raft and kayak close to Denver, from wild and daring to downright mellow, all on the majestic Colorado River.

Guided Raft Tour of Gore Canyon

For those in the know, the mere mention of Gore Canyon either turns on the adrenaline or sends a shiver down the spine. Located downstream of Kremmling on the Colorado River, this is not a part of the river to be trifled with. Its Class IV to Class V rapids are considered the toughest commercially available rapids in the United States. Only the best and most talented guides can take passengers along for the ride. Learn more about Grand County commercial rafting outfitters.

Gore Canyon Whitewater Park at Pumphouse

It is not often that river rats get something new to play with. Even rarer still when that "something new" is at a legendary run such as Gore Canyon. But in 2015, that's exactly what they got with the new Gore Canyon Whitewater Park at the Pumphouse BLM recreational site. Located below the Class V rapids of the canyon — and just before the family-friendly Upper Colorado River stretch below — the park gives kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders new features to test their skills.

Upper Colorado River

From the Pumphouse Boat Ramp to State Bridge, you'll find the Upper Colorado River and some of the state's best family-friendly whitewater (and plenty of outfitters to make it possible for you). Ranging from Class I to Class III, this stretch of the river offers a mellower take on the sport, and serves as a great introduction to get your feet wet. You can also try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding (also known as SUPing) which has become one of the fastest growing sports in North America. Learn more about Grand County commercial rafting outfitters who can take you to the Upper Colorado River.

The Colorado River below Hot Sulphur Springs

It may not be known for its whitewater rafting, but stretches of the Colorado River upstream of Kremmling are popular with rafters and drift-boaters who combine their love of boating with fly fishing. Cast a line into the eddies here and you are bound to get a few strikes from rainbow and brown trout.