A group of inflatable boats by KODI Rafting with tourists having a calm river trip.

Raft Beginner's Guide: How to Get Started with Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting is the perfect activity if you want to try something new and exciting. The thrill of riding down a river in the company of friends or family and a professional guide will make your trip memorable and fun! 

Is whitewater rafting scary? As long as you follow your guide’s instructions, you can look forward to a safe, and fun adventure. From making travel arrangements to packing the proper gear, KODI is here to assist you. In this raft beginner's guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to get comfortable.

Getting Started: The Class System

The International Scale of River Difficulty is a helpful tool for identifying the difficulties in rivers worldwide. It does not always work perfectly because some parts of a river can be different from others, and water levels and flow rates change daily with seasons and climate. That said, let's look at how hard whitewater rafting is depending on the rapids. 

Class I - Calm, deep currents ensure safety as long as one stays clear of rocks and other debris.

Class II - With straightforward rapids, this is considered the novice class, where everything is easy to navigate as long as you know what you're doing.

Class III - This class is intermediate because it takes skill and experience to successfully maneuver through complex river sections while dealing with currents faster than lower classes.

Class IV - This class requires precise paddling skills since one encounters unavoidable rapid waves, holes, and constrictions. Remember that this class is always intense and powerful.

Class V - Requires high expertise and extreme endurance and not runnable by commercial rafters.

We recommend the ducky kayak to anyone trying paddleboating for the first time in Colorado

Whitewater Rafting Tips

Here are some whitewater rafting tips you should know before hitting the river:

  • Study the river you'll be rafting on. Rocky mountain rivers can be unpredictable, so it's important to know what you're getting into. 
  • Always heed your rafting guide and follow their instructions. They're there for a reason.
  • Enjoy yourself! The point of whitewater rafting is to have fun, so keep your inexperience from getting in your way. You can make even your first time a memorable experience.

Whitewater Rafting Clothing Tips

One of the most important tips for whitewater rafting is to dress appropriately. The KODI team will equip you with a Personal Flotation Device (PFD), a helmet, a wetsuit, neoprene booties, and/or a splash jacket depending on the weather conditions that day. And don’t forget your sunscreen, sunglasses (with safety leash!), and a hat that fits under the safety helmet to protect you from the sun!

Whitewater Rafting Safety Tips

Whether you are a first-timer or an experienced rafter, whitewater rafting can be an exciting and thrilling experience. However, it's important to follow whitewater rafting safety tips. At KODI Rafting, we make sure that our guests are accompanied by a licensed and certified rafting guide with proper training, while dressed and equipped appropriately for the day.

Key Terms to Know

For those whitewater rafting for the first time, here are a few fun terms to learn:

  1. Put in: This is the starting point of your rafting trip where the raft enters the river
  2. Take out: Ending point of a river rafting adventure where the raft gets loaded on a trailer and you leave the river
  3. River left/river right: These are directions a rafting guide gives while you're rafting. Always note that these are the directions you will use while maneuvering down stream while looking downstream
  4. Eddy: an area of the river with current different from the main river current, frequently on the edge of the river after an obstruction (like a boulder) and with a light whirling motion, which is a great place to “pull over” in the raft to wait for other boats to catch up, or “eddy out”
  5. Boil: Where the water surface looks like boiling water, usually caused when water is being forced into one loacation, often appearing at the bottom of rapids where fast moving water is flowing into slower moving water that is pooled
  6. Swimmer: Individual who fell out of the raft during a rafting trip
  7. Flip: Used when a raft has completely overturned
  8. Safety kayak(er): Individuals accompanying rafts in kayaks who support swimmers or groups, usually following a group of rafts
  9. Portage: Term used to describe a team carrying a raft around a river obstacle on the shore to avoid a specific section of the river
  10. Broach: Used to indicate that a boat has its broadside facing downstream
A far away picture of a group engaged in Browns Canyon rafting

More Safety Tips

So, is whitewater rafting hard? The perceived difficulty level depends on the river conditions, your physical strength, and your comfort level. If you're a beginner, starting with a calmer river is likely best since you can work your way up as your skill level progresses. That said, here are some specific first-time whitewater rafting tips:

  1. Always hold the raft paddle properly - the paddle is the most common source of injury
  2. Ensure your PFD (personal flotation device) and helmet fit properly and are tightened down so they don’t slip or come off
  3. Stay in the boat at all times when you’re on the water unless the group is specifically going to shore and your guide recommends getting out on shore
  4. Learn various the various self-rescue techniques your guide recommends in the pre-trip safety talk so you’re able to get to safety in the unlikely event you fall overboard
  5. Know the commands and key terms to communicate effectively from your guide
  6. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times
  7. Never try to stand up in a river - your feet can get caught between rocks and injur your ankle or leg
  8. Always listen to your raft guide
  9. Don’t panic, you’re in safe hands!

Let's Go Rafting!

Now that you know the basics of whitewater rafting, you're ready to hit the river! And our staff and guides will be there for you every step of the way. All of our specialists complete a special whitewater rafting training course at KODI Rafting here in Colorado with skills assessments and instruction both on and off the river. They're there to help ensure you have a safe and fun experience on the water. 

Always remember: when in doubt, ask your Colorado rafting guide.

Where To Go Whitewater Rafting? Discover Some Great Options Here

Looking to take a vacation and engage in something exciting? Whitewater rafting should be on your list! But do you know the best choices of where to go whitewater rafting

Whitewater rafting in May through August in the Northern Hemisphere is one of the best ways to make memories that will cause your heart to beat faster as you remember the rush of adrenaline you felt, the beauty of nature, and the sounds of the water and wildlife. 

Each continent offers locations where you can plan your holiday and enjoy the best whitewater rafting adventures possible. Let’s talk about North America! 

5 Best Places To Go Whitewater Rafting When You’re on Vacation

Are you looking for a place offering a top-shelf whitewater rafting adventure? Well, buckle up your PFD and fasten your helmet because it's time to get your paddle wet at one of these top 5 best whitewater rafting locations in the US. 

We're talking about the most incredible places to go whitewater rafting, those river flows that offer ideal rafting conditions for a brief, yet glorious time every season. Let's find out what state has the best whitewater rafting, so you can experience a whitewater adventure like never before.

Arkansas River, Colorado

If you’re a die-hard river rafting fan looking for great places to go whitewater rafting, Colorado whitewater rafting is unquestionably for you!

The Arkansas River is the best place to whitewater raft in Colorado. And it’s no joke, dropping 5,000 feet in 125 miles, and it's the most renowned and straightforward to get there on this list. The views are excellent, the river flows predictable, and the flora and fauna are terrific.

Dead River, Maine

The Penobscot and Kennebec rivers in Maine are managed by hydropower plants and run daily until the fall. The Dead, on the other hand, only appears eight times yearly. There are five spring and three fall releases, so you only have a few chances to get the state's wildest Spring river rafting. Plan your timing carefully!

Deschutes River, Oregon

If you want to go on a desert excursion in the Pacific Northwest, the Deschutes River in dry, warm, eastern Oregon is an excellent option. You can run stretches of the river ranging from 13 miles in a half-day to roughly 600 miles in a three-day journey, an excellent Spring river rafting experience.

Chattooga River - Georgia

There’s no denying this river's beauty and the numerous outdoor activities in the surrounding area of the Chattooga River, It’s one of the best rafting places in the southeast part of the country, and its claim to fame is the signature rapids that were featured in the movie Deliverance. From the Class II float trip section starting at Overflow Road Bridge, to the section 3 class II-IV rapids, to the section 4 class II-V including the famous Five Falls, there is a large variety of river to explore.

Tuolumne River, California 

The Tuolumne River is a breathtaking 149-mile river in central California. It is one of the best river rafting rivers in the United States and has been used recreationally since the 1960’s.. It originates in Yosemite National Park high in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. 

This is one of the best beginner whitewater rafting trips in the country. The Tuolumne River is a great choice if you're searching for an adventure on the west coast.

Choose the #1 Whitewater Rafting Location in the US

Now that you know many iconic locations where you can go whitewater rafting, please do remember to take certain precautions. Always wear a life jacket while on the rivers and educate yourself about any river before venturing into it. Bring lots of sunscreen, a drink, and of course your camera in a dry bag! 

A KODI Rafting destination with a forest bank in the fall with a stream flowing between the trees.

KODI Rafting proudly serves the local community and tourists from all over the world on different Colorado rivers so that you can tick the experience of the very best whitewater rafting off your list this summer. 

We’ve discussed some of the most iconic and, as some would say, top whitewater rafting locations in the United States. Hop onto Google Maps and local websites to learn more about rapids and other safety considerations and or course hire an experienced guide. But if you choose KODI Rafting for your vacation, your rafting experience will be ideal since we know how to keep things exciting and keep you safe.You’ve checked out the most frequented rafting places, now is the time to make your reservations, too!

Horseback Riding in the Rocky Mountains

Ride on a saddle, then ride on a whitewater river raft, all in one day! One of the most extraordinary experiences you can have on your Colorado vacation is the intimacy and connection with nature by getting up close and personal with a beautiful horse. While horseback riding through Colorado’s unique landscapes, you can’t resist feeling closer to nature and Colorado’s storied history. 

Did you know that horseback riding began as far back as 6000 BC? Of course at this time it wasn’t for the pleasure of seeing Colorado’s unbelievable landscape. Horses were used for war, hunting for food, and as a critical mode of transportation. Here at Kodi Rafting, we have a deep connection with Colorado’s history of horseback riding, and we look forward to you experiencing it for yourself on your next saddle paddle trip! 

Are you a first-time horseback rider? 

As a novice rider, or a person with pretty basic experience with horses, you can try to understand horseback lingo and the associated equipment; so let’s dive deep into bovine terminology. 

What is a horseback riding path called?

  • The path or trail you ride a horse on has many names and they are… Bridle path, bridleway, equestrian trail, horse riding path, bridle road, and horse trail. 

How about a saddle? 

  • A saddle is nearly always constructed of leather and placed on the back of the horse for the rider to sit on and gain stability. Saddles will make it much easier for you as the rider to safely and effectively guide and control your horse. 

What is a stirrup?

  • A stirrup is a ring that is attached to the saddle. The point of a stirrup is to hold the rider’s foot securely while riding the horse. You can even stand up on a stirrup when the horse gallops and you don’t want your body to bounce as much during the ride.

What does it mean when a horse is broken-in? 

  • A broke-in horse is now safe to ride, it is no longer unbroke or wild and untamed. You may also hear the terms green broke and dead broke. 

What is a Foal? 

  • A foal is a female or male horse that is under the age of one which has not yet been weaned from its mother. The foal is not to be confused with in foal, which means a pregnant mare, or female horse.

I was asked to change rein.

  • When asked to change rein while riding a horse, this simply means to change the direction you and the horse are heading. Don’t worry, you’ll learn this before you take off down the path! 

Don’t forget to keep your Heels Down.

  • This is one thing you’ll often hear as you are riding. You may think… Ok, I will jam my heels down into the stirrup, but this is wrong. Instead, let your weight drop into your heels rather than onto the ball of your foot and into the stirrup. If you are a skier or snowboarder, think about your center of gravity. 

Open your chest.

  • This means you are slumping and you need to change your posture just as your momma taught you to “sit up straight!” When slumped over you become less balanced and flexible, which means you are less able to follow your horse’s movements and puts your body into a position that is less comfortable and you become more prone to discomfort.

Now that you understand the lingo… Let’s jump into some tips for first-time riders! 

  • Wear the proper attire… Don’t worry, we have you covered! Your stable master will provide you a helmet, but please be sure to wear proper western riding attire. Jeans and boots are best, but if you don’t have boots you can wear your tennis shoes and long pants. Even hiking pants and boots will work fine.
  • Ride relaxed and go slow. It is super important for your safety and the horse’s safety that you always stay in control of your horse. Being relaxed and trying to connect with your horse is a great way to really enjoy the ride.
  • Remember a horse is a living creature and it can sense your fear or lack of confidence in yourself. So when approaching the horse, mounting the horse, and riding the horse, always stay confident in yourself! You are in charge, not the horse. 
  • Proper posture is important. Focus on not slouching and staying balanced; This will help your horse be comfortable, mentally and physically.
  • Remember to look where you want to go. If you are looking to the left or the right, your horse will go that way, so keep looking at your point of direction, just sneaking a glance at the scenery, almost like the way you drive a car.

Ok, you may be thinking… Why would I need to see Colorado from the seat of a saddle? The main answer is why not when you can do them both in one day through Kodi Rafting and our partner Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Stables!  Horses have always played a large part in Colorado’s history, so on your vacation be sure to fully immerse yourself in all that the beautiful state of Colorado has to offer! 

For more information on horseback riding in the Rockies, be sure to check out our blog here. To sign up for your saddle paddle adventure in Buena Vista and Nathrop, click here. Ohhh, and don’t forget when you sign up for our saddle paddle package you will save money while experiencing the two most popular summer activities in Colorado. 

We look forward to taking you on your next adventure of a lifetime, both on land and water! Saddle up and forward paddle!

The Iconic Keystone Resort: A Great Place for Your Vacation

There’s time to squeeze in a family vacation this year!  Whether you’re up for fun in the summer sun or letting things cool down, there’s one place that’s perfect year-round. Keystone Resort located in the Rocky Mountains has something for everyone. Warm weather lovers and winter cold weather fans will both enjoy their time here. But a word of warning. Once you experience your time at Keystone, you’ll want to experience it all for every season. Here are the best things to do no matter what time of year you prefer.

Summer Means Happy Times and Bright Sunshine

First up on the list are the Keystone Resort summer activities but don’t let that fool you. Some of these are amazing in the wintertime as well. It all depends on how much you love the weather from one season to the next! Summer activities at the top of Dercum Mountain are available Wednesday through Sunday. So planning ahead will set your trip up for success. And always keep on the lookout for the many concerts and live shows happening.

Self Care

Mountain Top Yoga

Heading to the resort to gain a little Shanti (peace)? Visiting in July and August? You’re in luck because there’s no need to do it in your room alone. Head to the top of Dercum Mountain to practice with their certified Yoga instructors. Take in the awe-inspiring view of 10 miles worth of mountain range after riding the gondola to your Yoga site. What better place to relieve stress, and improve muscle strength than the Rockies? Remember to plan ahead and make reservations as these spots fill up fast. And children are welcome to come along as well!


Spa and Salon

It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting for a white water rafting trip or a little R&R. The spa and salon treatments are amazing! Let the scenery outside jumpstart the dopamine while you receive a detoxifying scrub. Or snag a Nuface Cellular Lift Facial to soften the skin and strengthen the muscles. This is one of Keystone Resort’s year-round luxuries and one only offered when you stay as a Keystone guest. Talk about the star treatment!

Let’s Get Physical… Activity That Is

Lakeside Village

Planning a trip between June and September? Love water-based activities with the family? Then Lakeside Village is the place to check out. It sports a 5-acre mountain lake with a bike path that runs through the resort. You’re going to run out of daylight before all the activities. Take the kids out in a kayak or canoe. Or share a romantic standup paddleboard ride with your significant other. And when you’re done with the water and bike trail,  there are yard games like Giant Jenga and Cornhole to jump in on. Finish up the day lounging in one of the free hammocks with a cocktail in hand – and you’ve completed one rewarding vacation day.

Keystone Stables

The June through September crowd has a great time at the Keystone Stables. They offer both horse and wagon riding, depending on your preference. These are guided of course so no need to master horseback riding before you arrive! You’ll explore the scenic Soda Creek Valley while your guide provides a history lesson. Complete your ride with a wagon dinner. And stop for drinks at the original Keystone homestead. If the kids want to see some horses and forego the ride, you’re in luck. It’s free to visit, snap some photos, and they’re available year round!


World Renowned Golfing

Like to golf? Keystone sports two world-class courses for you to enjoy. The River Course and the Ranch for a total of 36 beautiful holes in one of the most desirable golf locations. There are family programs to get the kids out on the course and lessons available for newbies. And guests of Keystone Lodge receive free golf on the day they arrive! These courses close in October when the snow starts flying, so planning ahead for tee time is a must.

The Color of Winter

During the winter season, the activities are as abundant as the snow. There’s magic for kids and adults alike on a Keystone winter trip. Both indoor and outdoor fun can be had with activities you won’t find anywhere else. Check out the top winter activities, bundle up, and come ready to make snowy memories!

Ice Skating

What’s winter without ice skating? There are plenty of opportunities for gliding around on the ice here! Zip around 5 acres of the largest outdoor rink in North America. Or Dercum Square offers another 7.000 square feet of ice to enjoy! Or just enjoy skating from the sidelines and the festive environments from either location. Weather can affect functioning so make sure to call ahead before arriving at the rinks.


Mountain Tours

Does traversing the snow-covered Rocky mountains sound out of your league?  Well, Keystone offers two fun ways to adventure. If everyone in your party is 15 years old or older, guides will take you on snowmobiles through the high country. No prior experience is needed. Bringing along a younger crowd? The snow cats are for you! Take a guided excursion through some of the best scenery in the mountains. Grab your passes early and stand by for winter weather!


Skiing and Tubing

What’s a trip to the Colorado Rockies without skiing or snow tubing? Keystone Ski school is a part of Vail Resorts and offers world-class instruction to all ages. So you can enjoy the best terrain around and have the kids skiing green slopes in a matter of hours! And of course if you’re an adept skier, Keystone’s 3,148 skiable acres, 20 lifts, and 128 runs truly offers something for every skier level.

Not wanting to take up the ski poles? Then scream your face off as you tube down the Mountaintop tubing hill. With a lift making constant round trips, you’ll spend hours racing down the slope while laughing and making memories the whole time.


Success In Life is What You Eat

No matter the season you choose to visit, food is a staple. Both Keystone Resort and the surrounding area have options galore. Kickapoo Tavern offers a great grill and bar with friendly staff. Snake River Saloon and Steakhouse delivers great live music. And Dos Locos Mexican Cantina has the best margaritas around! Want something fancier? Keystone Ranch offers beautiful views of the ski area and golf course, and Ski Tip is arguably the best restaurant in the county. The options are varied and many!

Summer. Winter. Pick a time and take your trip to the Colorado Rockies and visit the amazing Keystone Resort. 

If you’re looking for more summer activities, come visit us at Kodi Rafting for the best on-river experiences around. We’d love to see you and show you more of what Colorado offers! Enjoy your time and we can’t wait to see you soon!

Should I Bring the Kids White Water Rafting?

You’ve seen the rafts careening over rocks while spraying the boat riders with foam. You’ve even taken a couple of trips yourself. But now you’ve got kids in tow and aren’t sure if a white water rafting trip is in the books. Do you need to choose a gentler vacation activity or can the kiddos get in on the fun?

Well, we’re here to let you know that white water rafting is a thrilling activity for people of all ages, children included. And with the right choices and preparation, you’ll ensure it makes for wonderful family memories.

Choose the Right Class of Rapids for Your Age Group


As adventurous as your kids may be, it’s important to know their limits. When you’re planning a trip, you want to consider the classes of whitewater river rapids on your ride. Experts divide rapids into six classifications, but with kids along, we’re going to highlight only on the first three classes. Balanced with river flow levels (here is a link to the Arkansas River flow through Browns Canyon), these will give you a great idea of how much adventure you’re signing up for.

Class I Whitewater

Think of the lazy river at your local water park. More of a float trip, tiny rapids form when water moves over shallow beds of obstacles and while on the mellower side, these still count as rapids! You’ll experience these for the majority of your Class I trip. Younger kids and even timid adults will enjoy the peaceful, easy flow of these waters. You’ll likely do some paddling to avoid obstacles like boulders and bridges, or your guide will use an oar rig where you just get to ride along and enjoy the beauty of the river and valley.

Class II Whitewater

Class II rapids generally create whitecaps that are 1-3 feet high which means these are the ones you can really see and experience. Easy to navigate, these waters will definitely excite the kids! Maneuvering between rocks and ledges will get the raft rocking and the kids a bit wet, especially if they choose to ride in front. Now we’re talking. And if anyone gets nervous, they can always sit in the center of the raft while the bigger kids and adults ring the sides of the raft with their paddles.


Class III Whitewater

Due to moderate difficulty, younger children shouldn’t be riding the class III rapids. With many irregular waves (4-5 feet high) and tumultuous water, strong adventurous older kids and teens will love these! Water will definitely crash over the boat and everyone will get wet. That’s what we wanted though, right? As long as you follow your guide’s direction and pay attention, these bumpy rides will be super fun.


If you want to know more about the 3 remaining river classes, check out our classifications page or whitewater classifications article that will quickly bring you up to speed.

Gear Up for a Bumpy (and Wet) Ride

The raft and paddles aren’t the only equipment you’ll need for a safe and exciting ride. Exposure to the climate, bright sun, and water temperature can creep up on you. Preparation is key here but that doesn’t mean you need to bring along enough gear to sink the raft. A few common-sense items will make all the difference.

Avoid the Cold

Even with the bright sun overhead, waters can be chilly, after all, most of the river water is recently melted snow. Keeping children and yourself suited up will keep you warm should you fall in or get a wave coming your direction. Wetsuits cover the majority of your body and will keep any ice water where it’s supposed to be; anywhere but on you. Base layers underneath made of nylon, but never cotton is the best choice. Booties will keep the kid’s feet warm and dry in the water-logged raft. And added protection from sharp rocks if they fall out, and while maneuvering around the raft.

Avoid Sunburns

Even submerged in overcast skies, you can still burn in the sun at our high altitudes. And with most trips running for miles, that’s a lot of exposure time. Waterproof sunscreen is essential to protect any skin not covered with a wetsuit. It’s recommended to use anything SPF 30 or higher, and also liberally apply SPF lip balm to prevent chapped lips. We never advise drinking river water (giardia is a well-known parasite from mountain animals upstream) so pack along some reusable water bottles and fill them at the outpost before heading out. Throw a carabiner on it and hook it to the raft so you don’t lose it when the ride gets exciting. You’ll never stop hearing about your child’s favorite bottle floating away.

Protect Your Head

Rocks. Ledges. Trees. Other riders. When the ride gets adventurous, the chances of hitting your head increase. Nothing to worry about because you’ve got the kids wearing safety helmets. And these aren’t a recommendation – regulations require them on your whitewater rafting trip. If the kids are complaining about the sun in their eyes, add a ball cap underneath. And if you must wear sunglasses or eyeglasses, be sure to include a “leash” around your neck so they don’t go in the drink.


For more information on what to bring, check out our handy checklist and our article about what to wear on the river here.

Pay Attention to your Guide and The Rules of the River

White water rafting guides receive extensive training to really know the river, how to handle any situation, and of course to successfully navigate your raft down the river safely. They’re equipped to get the most novice riders, your children in this case, through a fun and enjoyable ride. Aside from rowing commands in the raft, a safety briefing always starts out the trip on a great foot. And before your raft touches the water, they’re going to give a detailed overview of guide commands as well as practice once you start down the river in the easy sections. Rafting with kids means they’ll be repeating them a few times throughout the trip. Some of the most common whitewater rafting commands are:


Put in: this is the start of the trip when the raft launches off into the river’s water

Take out: the end of the rafting trip and where the gear and raft get pulled out and loaded up on trailers to go back to the outpost

River Left/River Right: most guides will sit in the back of the boat looking down river. When something comes up that the kids will enjoy, they’ll use these commands. Watching for and pointing out wildlife, geologic features, and interesting river elements makes the trip entertaining in addition to the guide’s jokes!

Swimmer: whether intentional or not, a rider who falls in the river is a swimmer. If you or one of the kids falls in, the guide will shout out “Swimmer!” to get everyone’s attention as the members of the boat pull the swimmer back into the raft.

Flip: the raft has capsized. And now you and the kids are all swimmers. We’ll say that one was intentional.

Safety Kayak: safety kayakers will go with your raft to keep an eye on any hazards, new rapids, or rescue swimmers.

Yes, Take the Kids!

White water rafting is a great way to spend time outdoors with the kids and build amazing family memories you’ll cherish. Adventurous. Wild and wet. Everything a child loves. There doesn’t have to be hesitation if you’re taking the whole crew along on your next vacation. 


When you’re in Colorado for your next trip, choose the best with the Kodi Rafting Team online or by phone at 970-668-1548. We’re here to get you and the kids out on the water today!

A landscape shot of the yellow Aspen Forest and mountain perfect for river rafting trips and hiking

Colorado Fall Aspen Views

As summer fades, our wildflowers wither, the air cools, and sunlight dims earlier and earlier- winter is coming! But before we can hit the slopes, fall ‘leaf peeping’ is something you don’t want to miss.

Something magical happens to our aspen trees as they prepare to shed their leaves for the winter. The most awe-inspiring change of color occurs and the aspen trees turn a shimmering gold. With numerous aspen forests all over the state of Colorado, viewing the gold is endless. With different elevation throughout the state, the color change varies depending on the area you’re visiting. Each area has a different ‘peak’ of when the aspens reach their brightest, so if you want to experience the gorgeous views, be mindful that the further south and lower altitude you go, the later in the season the trees will change.

Typically, we will start to see colors change in early September and depending on where you are, you can still see colors through mid- October. Take a drive, go on a hike, ride your bike, or even go by horse back to immerse yourself in the most magical time of the year. We’ve rounded up our favorite places throughout the state to see the most brilliant groves of aspens for your viewing pleasure. You absolutely won’t want to miss out on this display of nature’s regeneration, so take a look at the best spots for leaf peeping.


Forecast map of Colorado's foliage colour change dates during whitewater rafting season

Kebler Pass near Crested Butte


A landscape shot of the yellow Aspen Forest and mountain perfect for river rafting trips and hiking

Kebler Pass is home to one of the largest aspen groves in the world. What this means for you is a surreal experience for fall, as giant clusters of orange, yellow, and gold shine gleam amidst the surrounding mountain peaks. If you opt to drive Kebler Pass, it’s about 2-4 hours’ drive, not counting the dozens of times you’ll stop your car and get out to snap some pictures. Start in the town of Crested Butte and once you drive over the whole pass, you’ll descend into the friendly little town of Paonia.

Million Dollar Highway, Silverton to Ouray


A mountainous landscape with red Aspen trees along a tarmac road for driving to kayak river trips

Million Dollar Highway 550 is part of the San Juan Skyway loop in the southern part of Colorado and is 23 miles in length starting in Silverton and ending in Ouray. The autumn colors feel like the Million Dollar Highway earned its name by the sea of golden aspens it winds through. This is truly a bucket list destination, even more so when it’s experiencing peak aspen colors. Situated among Colorado’s steepest all-around mountain range, the Million Dollar Highway will reward you with jaw dropping vistas around every corner.

Boreas Pass in Breckenridge


Breckenridge Boreas murram pass heading to whitewater rafting spots has yellow temperate trees

This 22-mile scenic drive starts in Como and ends in the historic town of Breckenridge. Along the drive you’ll reach the summit around 12,000 feet with the road lined with clusters of aspen trees. Pull over often along your journey and lace up your hiking boots to set your course along the Baker’s Tank Trail, or the Aspen Alley Trails to see the fall splendor on foot. Once you get closer to Breckenridge, admiring the ski slopes from the road is a magnificent sight with the golden trees in the foreground. End your trip by heading into town for a cold brew or to walk and shop Breckenridge’s Main Street.

Independence Pass near Twin Lakes


Start in the small town of Twin Lakes for a truly unforgettable experience of driving Independence Pass which delivers you to the lovely town of Aspen. Leaf peeping is out of this world on this particular route, which is widely known as being a Colorado classic. Expect twisting roads, steep drop-offs, and unbe-leaf-able views! Be sure to stop at the Continental Divide summit, a towering 12,095 feet above sea level for panoramic 360 degree views. Bring a jacket, it gets cool up there!

Maroon Bells in Aspen


The maroon bell with its vegetation, bell-shaped peaks, and lake perfect for kayak river trips

Talk about an amazing backdrop! The Maroon Bells sit behind the clear blue waters of Maroon Lake and are covered in aspen groves. What better place to see the epic change of aspen trees than in Aspen? The road up to the Bells is about 10 miles and is a treat in and of itself as it winds up a stunning aspen tree-lined valley. Even opting for hiking or biking up the whole way is amazing if you want to get closer to the trees. The Maroon Bells are said to be the most photographed mountains in North America and with the color change, this particular location for leaf peepers just can’t be beat.

Leaf peeping is one of the most exciting and aesthetically pleasing activities Colorado has to offer. Our change in colors is quick, and each area’s ‘peak’ only lasts for about a week or two, so pick your route and timing to hit the road and immerse yourself in the magic of the Rocky Mountains in the fall! For more ideas on beautiful places to leaf peep, check out our other blog post, The 5 Best Spots to see the Golden Aspens in the Colorado Rockies.


Planning the Perfect Guys Trip

As life gets more complicated, it grows harder to stay in touch with our friends due to jobs, families, cross-country moves, you name it! So should you just give up and say, “I guess we’ll just see each other on social media from now on.”? No way! The answer is to plan an annual guy’s trip. It’s easy to create a habit, or ritual, of meeting up with your buddies in person every year.

Whether you’re trying to put together the best bachelor party in recorded history, you want some special one-on-one time with your sons, or you just want a memorable weekend with the college buds, we’re here to provide options for an awesome guys trip in the Buena Vista area.


Honestly, a getaway to Colorado just isn’t complete without a trip down the river. We’ve got you covered for that adventure! From class III trips involving some difficulty navigating objects (rocks!), to the class V thrill seeker/experts-only trip, you’re not going to want to skip out on the high adventure that whitewater rafting gives your group of guys. Join us for a rafting/zip-lining combo to double up the adventure. Enjoy two fun, quintessential Colorado activities in one easy, incredible day. Zip and Raft the Arkansas River starts at the Arkansas River Outpost for our 1/2 Day Browns Canyon raft trip—one of the world’s most popular whitewater rafting adventures! A whitewater rafting trip is a staple adventure when venturing to the mountains, and we’re here to help lead your guys on the experience of a lifetime.


After a day on the river, keep up the outdoor adventure by experiencing Colorado’s beauty in the summer with a camping trip. There are tons of options of where to camp, but to narrow it down to a few, here’s what we suggest: For those desiring an off-grid experience, dispersed camping on BLM land could be the perfect option for you. With few amenities and more immersion in the great outdoors, dispersed camping is definitely more of a rustic experience. Still pack light, but make sure to bring plenty of warm layers (it gets chilly at night even in the summer!), a sturdy tent with a rain fly, and ample water (including for washing up) for a trip to any of these dispersed campgrounds!


River rafting camping trips include a wilderness campsite with an erected tent and hanging hammock

For dispersed camping near a mountain lake, head to Baldwin Lake, Hancock Lakes, or Pomeroy Lakes. With high-altitude lakes and stunning views, these campgrounds are perfect for those who want to bring a fishing rod along or take a very cold water dip. Make sure to find a place to pitch your tent at least 100 ft from the lakeshores to protect the pristine alpine environment. It’s also super important to check the local guidelines for fire restrictions, you may be restricted to your camp stove. Know before you go!

As we mentioned, while you’re camping with your guys, fishing in any of the numerous bodies of water is a must do. Our lakes, rivers, and streams in Colorado are filled with loads of different fish species, with trout being the most prevalent. Some local fishing spots we recommend checking out near Buena Vista are the Arkansas River, Arthur Lake, Blue Lake, creek fishing, and high altitude lakes. The Arkansas River has gained national recognition for the quality of its fishing and the many aquatic insects which are the source of its consistent dry fly fishing. There are high elevation meadow segments, steep bouldered canyons, and miles of productive pocket water holding 1500-4000 trout per mile. For more info on fly fishing or to book a guided trip, check out Ark Anglers, a local BV company that is well respected in the industry.


From May to October, Colorado boasts some of the most exciting and picturesque off roading trails in the country. When you come out with your guys, renting ATVs, 4-wheelers, or a heavy-duty Jeep is another thrill you’ll want to add to the list of activities. We recommend giving BV Jeeps or NOVA Guides out of Camp Hale a call for trail recommendations and rentals for a half-day, full-day, or even a multi-day adventure. Exploring the Buena Vista area on a high powered machine gives way to some pretty special hidden places in the mountains you guys won’t want to miss!


After your days of packed adventures, head over to one of our favorite places in BV, Deerhammer Distillery located at 321 E Main Street. The cocktails are handcrafted and delicious. Deerhammer is known for the best Sloe Gin Fizz ever, and they distill single malts, bourbon, rye, limited run single barrel spirits including a clear whitewater whiskey that is infinitely drinkable. Get a cocktail, take the tour with said cocktail in hand, mingle with the raft guides and other colorful residents that frequent this local institution. And of course, take home a bottle with a couple of recipes to relive the experience at home after you enjoy their funky little patio. And the food truck on the patio is a great place for food too. The Distillery is definitely a fun place for you and the guys to hang! For other great food and beverage options, here is a recent article highlighting some of our favorites!


We’re looking forward to being the peak of a great adventure with the guys by showing you a great time on the river. We hope these other fun ideas will make for an unforgettable trip that you’ll want to make a yearly ritual. No matter what fun activities you plan, we know that a great guy getaway is going to offer activities that the whole group can get on board with, and it will give you the chance to interact with your fellow guys in a really fun atmosphere, so enjoy all the possibilities of a great outdoor adventure! Colorado will give you guys all of that and so much more because it’s such a special place and truly the perfect dude-centric getaway.


It's Time to Get Outside with Kodi Rafting

As the world starts slowly opening back up again, we recognize that there’s no playbook for living through a pandemic, or even getting your life back to ‘normal’, so we’ve created one for you so you’re able to kick start living your best life in the great outdoors of Colorado!

During uncertain times over the past year, the idea of cultivating personal happiness might seem trivial, but it might be more important now than ever before. There’s unwavering evidence that positive moods can boost our immune system and can protect us from respiratory viruses, so it’s not something to feel guilty about, it’s a smart strategy just like washing our hands! But can you actually boost happiness during the down-turn of a global pandemic? It’s certainly not as simple as washing one’s hands – but there are actions we can take to manifest joy, like being outside in nature. We might even say the best way to manifest joy is by being out on the river! It’s proven that exposure to nature has been linked with better general health, less stress, and increased happiness. What better way to reconnect with family and close friends while enjoying the outdoors than taking a rafting trip down the pristine waters of Colorado on a beautiful blue sky day? We say, it’s time to get outside with the Kodi Rafting family for some well-deserved fresh air on Colorado’s favorite whitewater adventure experience!

While we’re so excited to get back out on the white water, we’d like you to know we’ve taken some extra precautions for our daily operations to put you at ease and that we are doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of you, our guests, and our staff. First, Kodi takes your health and safety extremely seriously. From fully wiping down our boats, to our touchless check-in, and sanitizing gear after each use, our goal is to support your craving for adventures, safely. We even invested in new gear this season to be sure each item is top of the line. We also are proud to say that Kodi had no COVID infections last year as we have taken the CDC guidelines very seriously. By being safe and taking preventive measures, we are welcoming the upcoming rafting season with open arms and we are looking forward to a summer filled with fun and we hope you will join us.

Our focus has and will always be on the safety during your raft trip. As we move forward and our country begins to heal, we encourage you to join us for a trip of a lifetime! There’s no better way to reconnect with friends and family, and get rid of your ‘FOMO’ of activities than spending an afternoon on the river. This summer is going to be an awesome fun filled and exciting time to get back to feeling more you, more free. It’s time to get back to living your best life!

Once you book your trip on the Upper Colorado, the Arkansas River through Browns Canyon, or Clear Creek with us, keep in mind it’s still wise to adopt some of these habits:

-Keep a mask handy. Be prepared to cover your face on the bus or van ride.

-Let us know if you would like to reserve your own boat, keeping your group to just your travel companions. We totally understand that you may prefer to maintain additional social distancing measures, and we will do our best to accommodate you to the best of our ability, so long as it does not compromise your safety on the river! If you arrive with 4 friends or more you’ll automatically get your own boat, so definitely plan to bring your friends!

-Wash your hands and be respectful of those around you so everyone can enjoy and have a great time.

– If you’re sick, please stay home.

– Check out our page on What to Expect for your day of rafting.


Two ladies posing while wearing personal floating devices before going on a whitewater rafting

With most cafes and restaurants starting to open up, feel free to grab lunch in town and bring it over to Kodi’s picnic tables to enjoy by the river. Whether you want to arrive early and enjoy your lunch before your rafting adventure, or save it for after, you and your group are more than welcome to refuel at our picnic tables we have set up outside!


We’re so excited as this rafting season begins, and can’t wait to see you on the river! Choose your river trip here and contact us today for information and reservations here online or call us at 970-668-1548, so we can help plan the highlight of your vacation! You deserve this time outdoors to really connect with nature and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Colorado river basins. You’ll discover the beauty of Colorado by raft, and truly understand why KODI Rafting has such a high number of repeat and happy customers that keep coming back to join us on the river for more fun year after year and leave us awesome reviews on Trip Advisor!


A view of the snow-capped mountain destination for KODI Rafting and the lake in front of it.

Dillon, CO- The Ideal Place for Adventure

Dillon Colorado is a little town packed with a lot of fun- the perfect place for a weekend filled with adventures. Nestled in the rocky mountains and lush forests of Summit County, Dillon is popular in both summer and winter and is known for the giant Reservoir, Lake Dillon, which sits between Dillon and Frisco. From local breweries, delicious restaurants, endless outdoor adventures, and live music at the outdoor amphitheater, Dillon has something awesome to offer everyone, no matter what time of year it is.


In the winter, Dillon is an ideal location for visitors as it is pretty centrally located between five world-renowned ski resorts, so you can take your pick! Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper, and Loveland all have family terrain as well as great tree skiing and more advanced runs. If you’re not keen on skiing, don’t worry, there’s plenty of other ways to enjoy the mountains in the snow.

Whether you’ve been on a snowmobile or not, there are a few great companies throughout the county that will take you on a guided tour throughout the mountains of Summit County. The mountains combine with lofty altitudes to create a tremendous snowpack that is ideal for snowmobiling. Keystone Snowmobiling Tours and Rentals (only a few miles from Dillon) offer an adventurous high country escape, with an endless supply of powder-filled bowls and meadows to explore. Give them a call at 970-455-4040 to make reservations in advance.

The Ice Castles are a winter favorite, and another fun adventure. The castles are built by using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists and you can see them from January to March. The castles include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, and more. Visit their site to get your tickets in advance. 

In the summer time, Dillon has many biking trails, but the most popular is the 18 mile loop around Lake Dillon which starts at the Dillon Amphitheater and ends at the Frisco Marina. We highly recommend doing this loop- the views are outstanding and you have plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife along the way! Rent a bike for the day and maybe even pack a lunch for a picnic- there are so much great places along the trail that you can stop to catch your breathe and enjoy the sights.

Lake Dillon is the world’s highest deep-water marina, so it doesn’t quite warm up enough for people to swim in it, but plenty of people still enjoy pontooning, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, and sailing on the lake on a hot Colorado day. We recommend giving Dillon Marina a call for rentals or you can check out their website here.


The Town of Dillon has three really great breweries that you shouldn’t miss out on. Dillon Dam has amazing lagers and ales, a warm family friendly atmosphere, and a tasty menu. Pug Ryan’s Brewery has a nice mix of all different kinds of brews, and yummy $10 burgers and beers for happy hour. If you enjoy craft beers, then Baker’s Brewery is your best bet with a classic pub entree menu.

It’s hard to pick a favorite because Dillon has tons of great food options, but one of our favorite lunch spots in Dillon has to be Arapahoe Cafe. They were named the best restaurant in town! Their sandwiches are delicious and they make some really good BBQ too. On a beautiful Colorado-blue sky day, grab a seat on their patio and enjoy the mountain views and the background of Lake Dillon.


In the warmer months, enjoy an outdoor concert at the Dillon Amphitheater- you won’t be disappointed! Bringing in local artists and even big headliners, Dillon Amphitheater opens up to a grassy field on the shoreline of Lake Dillon where you can bring a blanket and sit and enjoy or stand in front of the stage up close to the music. The Dillon Amphitheater is inspired by their scenically spectacular lakeside venue over-looking the majestic Rocky Mountains. Stay tuned for the summer line-up.


A new hotel is being built in Dillon and should be completed by the end of winter 2021. The Pad will be repurposing one-trip shipping containers and it will have 30 rooms and around 101 beds with private higher-end suites but also dorm-style bunks which will be inside the shipping containers. The hotel will have rooftop and patio bars, common spaces, a hot tub, lobby, event space and is supposed to be finished by the end of winter 2021, when it will look like any other small boutique hotel. Check out their progress.

There’s no doubt that people flock to the mountains of Summit County in the winter to ski and enjoy other fun adventures in the snow, and in the summer when the wildflowers are vibrant and full, the great outdoors are where outdoor enthusiasts want to be. Staying in Dillon is one of the best little towns in Summit County to truly experience it all. Try one or all of the above mentioned adventures, restaurants, and experiences, and you’ll be able to capture a love for the winter and the summer in Summit County in a heartbeat!

Why You Need to See Colorado from the Seat of a Saddle

When you are considering what experiences are a “must” to check off your Colorado bucket list, you may find your search results looking something like ‘whitewater rafting near me’ or ‘horseback riding near me.’ But it may be difficult to fit in both activities when you have limited time left to explore the mountains. Luckily, you no longer have to choose one experience over the other when you spend the day on an Adventure Package day trip!

A trip like The Saddle Paddle sets you up for double the fun pairing a morning whitewater rafting trip with an afternoon of horseback riding in the Rockies, making for an unforgettable duo of Colorado adventures. This family-friendly day trip offers plenty of thrills while still being suitable for guests as young as 7 years old. Plus, you need look no further than the seat of a raft or saddle to find the most stunning views in the Rockies. From navigating a raft through Brown’s Canyon National Monument to journeying along a rugged trail on horseback, there is no better way to get a taste of western adventure in the Rocky Mountains! 

Make a Splash in a Whitewater Raft

Start the day ready to go in your whitewater-friendly outfit before hopping into the provided wetsuit, booties, and even a splash top that will help you stay warm. Finish off your look with a helmet, PDF (AKA your Personal Floatation Device), and strike a pose as a group with your paddles in hand before boarding your raft and setting off on your adventure. Once you get moving along the Arkansas River, get ready to take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding Collegiate Peaks with many of the mountaintops soaring above 14,000 ft. You will also be immersed in Colorado’s mining history with railroad tracks and mine remnants that date back to the 1880s being visible along your water journey. Many of our guides may even be able to spill a few interesting facts about Colorado’s rich history or maybe even crack a joke or two. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife like the elusive bighorn sheep, soaring eagles and hawks, diving ospreys, and the occasional jumping trout. 

While you enjoy the view and scout for wildlife, keep an ear open and listen to your guide give helpful instructions on when it is time to focus on paddling and navigating the raft down the river. Along the way, you can expect class III rapids that will definitely create thrills and splashes while still being tame enough to be fun for the whole family. Meaning, there may be obstacles like exposed rocks and faster waters but nothing as technical as the more advanced class IV or V trips. You should expect to get wet from a splash or two but don’t worry, that's what your gear is for. You definitely won’t forget the experience of working together with family and friends to pass through challenging rapids!

Take in the Horseback Mountain Views

Experience Colorado’s western roots by stepping into some cowboy boots! After a morning spent on the river and a tasty provided lunch at the Mt. Yale Outpost, dry off and get ready to hop into a saddle to see Colorado from a whole new perspective. Once the primary way of exploring the Rocky Mountains, horseback riding allows you to relax and connect with the western history and natural beauty of the Centennial State.

Put your foot in a stirrup, grab the saddle horn, and swing yourself up onto the back of your horse. Bring along a cowboy hat to shade your head as you ride and you will feel like you stepped into an old classic western film. A genuine cowboy or cowgirl will lead you and your new four-legged friend on your expedition as you view the mountain trails like never before from the seat of a saddle. Enjoy the tranquility of the ride as you gaze across the meadows, hear the peaceful sounds of babbling creeks, catch sight of even more wildlife, and form a powerful connection with the amazing animal carrying you along the trail. Don’t forget to pack a camera in your saddlebag to capture your newly-found horseback viewpoint of the stunning mountain landscape as well as snap a few shots of family, friends, and your beautiful horse companion. These photos will remind you of your horseback adventure for years to come!

The Saddle Paddle is the perfect way to optimize family-friendly adventure while also crossing off two unforgettable experiences in a single day. Along the way you will encounter breathtaking views, landmarks of Colorado history, and also have the opportunity to make new friends in your raft guide, wranglers, and even your horse. Combining two of the state’s most iconic means of exploration, this action-packed day trip is sure to get you in touch with Colorado’s western roots all while enjoying memorable quality time outdoors with your loved ones.