Rafting The Numbers on The Arkansas River

Rafting The Numbers on The Arkansas River

Weekend getaways, vacations, family reunions, work, everything has flown by and now we are about to welcome August to our calendars. Why it is that everything about summer seems to travel at lightening speeds? As the last weekends fill up with things we have to do, it seems like we barley have time to do all of the adventures that we are craving to do. I for one will be putting away the cell this weekend and slowing things down. I will relinquish my sense of time and honestly can’t wait for the unparalleled peace that comes with not having to check email and when your rafting you can’t bring your phone it will just get wet.


Conveniently located in beautiful Colorado are the headwaters of the Arkansas River. This is the mouth of the river or the starting point located just north of Leadville and it flows a total of 1450 miles through the Sawatch Mountains down to Pueblo across the plains and out to the mouth of the Mississippi. The Upper Arkansas River is the most visited and sought after river in the United States for whitewater rafting. What luck it’s just another part of our backyard.

The Upper Arkansas River

The Upper Arkansas River


There are dozens of rafting companies that run this section of the river. Most of the major players are located in Buena Vista which is just over two hours from the heart of the Denver. Trips down the river can range anywhere from a half day to multiple overnight excursions. A day trip will be plenty to quench your thirst for the river and the scenery is breathtaking. I started the day in Buena Vista and we drove up to our put in just above the Granite Gorge section of the river. From here we floated through Granite Gorge and finished with The Narrows at Frog Rock.


The best part about the Upper Arkansas River in my opinion is a particular section of the river sandwiched in the middle of Granite Gorge and The Narrows. A set of rapids lovingly titled The Numbers. The Numbers are relentless and demanding 5 mile stretch of boulder choked rapids pumping with fast cold water. It is an adventure junkie’s wet dream. This section of the river has so many rapids slammed back to back that it is simply numbered 1-7. The class of these rapids can change with the water flow every season ranging from class III-V. But really, don’t let The Numbers scare you; it is an amazing adrenaline rush if you are prepared to paddle, listen to your guide and scare yourself just a little you will have an unbelievable ride.

Rafting The Narrows on The Arkansas River

Rafting The Narrows on The Arkansas River


Finish the day with the Narrows at Frog Rock. This section holds moderate class III rapids, which are a welcome relief from the heavy paddling in The Numbers. The fast current helps to carry you through and toss you over a few cascading falls in the river bed. After the trip ended we had floated about 18 miles downstream, I promptly put a stamp on the day and grabbed a beer I definitely deserved it, and so will you.

The Deets:

How far?

  • 120 miles southwest of Denver to Buena Vista

Top Companies?

  • River Runners: The Whitewater Professionals
  • AVA’s Colorado Rafting & Zipline


  • $31-$150 (prices vary on river section and length of trip)


  • 7,965 Ft.


  • Moderate-Difficult


  • Rafting, Kayaking, Fishing, Camping, Hiking, Photo-OP

Extra goodies?

  • Buena Vista, Sawatch Mountain Range, Mount Elbert, Clear Creek Reservoir