Colorado Springs to many people is “the” gateway to the beauty of Colorado. Nestled snugly against “America’s Mountain”, 14,000-foot Pikes Peak is the spectacular backdrop to your visit to Colorado. If you arrived by air one of the first things you will notice is the convenience of the Colorado Springs airport. Unlike Denver International Airport, you will find one terminal, no trains or trams, easy walking to and from the gates as well as rental counters, car pickup, and parking.
When planning your family fun in Colorado, Colorado Springs is the perfect starting point for creating an adventure filled visit to Colorado. You can drive to the top of Pikes Peak, visit the waterfalls and hiking trails of Cheyenne Canyon, tour the United States Air Force Academy, wander around the amazing rock formations of the Garden of the Gods, visit the abundance of parks and museums, experience the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo…the list goes on!
If whitewater rafting in Colorado Springs is on your list of must-do activities, the most popular whitewater rafting river in the world is only 45 miles away. The Arkansas River flows out of the mountains through Canon City and has arguably the best rafting in Colorado. Geography and nature have combined to make the lower Arkansas River ideal for whatever rafting trip you are looking for.
A family float trip is a great way to experience the river if you have toddlers or little ones who aren’t quite up to the thrills and challenges of whitewater rafting. Even one-year-olds can participate. Float trips usually are one to two hours in length.
If you’re looking for a more challenging family whitewater rafting adventure, the next step up is the Bighorn Sheep Canyon section of the Arkansas River. On this pool-and-drop section of whitewater, the rapids are separated by calmer stretches of river, letting you relax a bit and take in and enjoy the scenery of the canyon that was carved by the river over many eons. If you’ve got sharp eyes you may even spot some of the bighorn sheep that make the canyon their home.
Now…if you’re interested in the ultimate white water rafting, the Royal Gorge trip is calling to you! People from all over the world come to experience this wonder. Ten miles of the Arkansas River twist and snake its way through up to 1,100-foot-tall cliffs bordering the river. Six miles of narrow and nearly continuous white water rapids. Towering waves. Crunching holes. Obstacles galore. Enough to satisfy any white water junkie! If you’ve got time to notice, you’ll float under the Royal Gorge Bridge 1,000 feet above, and see an old wooden pipeline built in 1929.
One of the beauties of the Arkansas River, aside from being the closest whitewater rafting in Colorado Springs, is the variety of experiences possible. Rafting is available from March to October most years. Water levels change throughout the year, with the peak flow typically around late June, when the river is at its wildest. Trips for toddlers to junkies. One-hour trips, half-, full-, and up to three-day outings. Great rafting, great weather, great scenery, great fun. Or, in a word, great! Don’t miss it.