Raft the Upper Colorado River for a Geography Lesson with Kodi

If you’re looking for a fun and informative outdoor activity, then consider rafting the Upper Colorado River (nicknamed the Upper C). Not only will you get to experience one of the most beautiful stretches of river in the country, but you’ll also learn about its history with a splash of adventure. Kodi’s experienced raft guides know everything there is to know about this region and are happy to share it with you. Continue to read our blog below for some facts about the Colorado River and what you should expect while rafting the Upper C with us!

A little history of the Colorado River

The Colorado River is one of the great rivers of North America. It rises in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, and flows southwest through Colorado Plateau country for about 2,330 miles (3,745 kilometers) before emptying into the Gulf of California in northwestern Mexico. Its drainage basin covers some 337,000 square miles (869,000 square kilometers). The year-over-year average flow of Upper C is about 956 cubic feet per second.

The upper section of the river flows through a series of canyons in the Rocky Mountains. The largest tributary is the Green River, which joins the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam. Other important tributaries are the Gunnison and San Juan rivers. Most of the water in the upper river is used for irrigation and domestic purposes. In 1976 the United States and Mexico signed a treaty that guarantees a certain amount of water to Mexico from the Colorado River.

The headwater of the Colorado River is located high in the Rocky Mountains. The main stem of the river begins where the Grand and Eagle rivers converge near Granby, Colorado. From there, it flows northwestward through Rocky Mountain National Park before turning southwestward towards its final destination. Along its journey, it receives water from several large tributaries, including the Blue River, which originates in Silverthorne, Colorado. It also passes through several major US states including Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California, before emptying into the Gulf of California. Despite its long journey, the Colorado River is only about 12 feet (3.7 meters) deep on average and rarely more than 50 feet (15 meters) deep at its deepest point.

Did you know that Colorado and Hawaii are the only two US states that have no rivers flowing into the state from other places, only rivers flowing out? All other US states have at least one river flowing in from a neighboring state. Colorado’s rivers all flow into the Gulf of Mexico, while Hawaii’s rivers flow into the Pacific Ocean. The fact that Colorado and Hawaii are the only two states with this distinction is pretty amazing. Who would have thought that such a small thing would make them so unique?

What to expect while rafting with Kodi on the Upper C

Rafting the Upper C is a great way to spend a day in the Colorado sun. We put-in at Pumphouse Campground, but where we take-out depends on if you are joining us for an overnight trip, half-day trip, or full-day trip. This section of the river is full of mellow Class II and Class III waves that provide enough excitement to keep things interesting, but not so large that you’ll be constantly hanging on for dear life.

The first class lll rapid is called The Eye of the Needle and it’s a great test of rafting skills. After The Eye of the Needle Rapid, the river flows into a wide flat open area that continues for about five miles of calm class ll rapids for a nice mellow ride.

Next, we approach the second Class lll rapid called Yarmony. Yarmony is known for its strong currents and large waves that are about half a mile long. One of the best parts of this rapid is that it starts with a long wave train… If you don’t know what this is… think ULTIMATE FUN or a succession of similar waves at equal intervals. But don’t worry, things calm down after that. Just be sure to watch out for the favorite hot springs on the river left, and you’ll be rafting the Upper C like a pro in no time with the help of our expert guides!

Get a taste of Colorado’s history on your next rafting trip with Kodi Rafting Company. Our experienced guides will take you through the dramatic scenery of the Upper Colorado River, while sharing stories of the area’s colorful past. Whether you’re a first-time rafter or an experienced adventurer, our trips are sure to excite and inspire you. So join us for a journey down America’s “forgotten river”!


Whitewater River Rafting or Animal Watching?

Stop and take a deep breath… Feel the wind and experience the sights of Colorado’s wild animals from the seat of a whitewater raft. 

Whether you’re hiking trails or paddling the rapids of the Arkansas, Clear Creek, Blue, or Colorado rivers with Kodi, you’re guaranteed to see some wildlife! Colorado’s diversity of landscapes and vegetation is home to a wide variety of wildlife like the bighorn sheep, elks, golden eagles, and varieties of trout.

We want to provide a quick reminder to never feed or disturb any wildlife. For more information on the leave no trace ethos, check out our recent blog

 

Colorado’s Fish in Rafting Rivers

When you’re whitewater rafting the Numbers, Browns Canyon, or Pine Creek you may be lucky enough to see some fish. The main fish population in the Arkansas, Clear Creek, Blue, and Colorado rivers are brown and rainbow trout, but you’ll occasionally see some Brook Trout too. Another animal you’ll commonly spot in the rivers are Beavers! Beavers aren’t fish obviously, but there is a possibility you will see them and their amazingly clever dams.  

Did you know the Colorado native trout before the 1850s was the greenback cutthroat trout? The Arkansas river used to be teeming with greenback cutthroat trout, but sadly the mining runoff in Leadville killed this fish species in the valley of Buena Vista. You may be asking yourself, HOW? Greenback cutthroat trout died due to a heavy amount of metal contamination and soil erosion. However, Leadville National Fish Hatchery is working to resolve that since the greenback cutthroat trout are endangered, and it’s their main priority to repopulate the surrounding rivers and lakes. 

A long-spoken legend between the senior whitewater river rafting guides is that Northern pike fish have been caught in the Arkansas River. Northern pike are high alpine lake fish that like deep and cold water, but sometimes they’re flushed out of the lakes and have been found in our rivers! There are no guarantees of seeing a pike, but the senior river guides swear by this tale. 

Unfortunately, we don’t allow fishing from the rafts because of the other guests on your boat, but if you are looking to fish be sure to check out the requirements for your fishing license in Colorado and some rules and regulations you can reference to legally fish in Colorado. 

 

Colorado’s Birds Seen Overhead in the River Canyons

When rafting, it’s easy to forget to look up, but we highly encourage it! Here in Colorado, you will see great blue herons, bald and golden eagles, turkey vultures, and Corvus. Common birds you may spy are sparrows, robins, and swallows. The swallows are very prevalent when it is raining/drizzling. Did you know that birds predict the weather? When it’s raining, swallows fly low because they have very sensitive ears. When the barometric pressure drops, swallows will fly as close to the ground as possible because the air density is greatest the lower they go. 

Another common bird you or guide will often spot are in the Corvus family, which includes ravens, crows, and magpies. You won’t miss these birds, as they are very noisy!  

Some striking birds you have a possibility of seeing are the red-winged blackbird, blue jay, North American goldfinch, and steller’s jay. The steller’s jay looks like a metallic blue bird, and is super unusual and truly beautiful. Check out the photo below of a steller’s jay in the wild. 

Some rare birds that are less likely to cross your path but you may be lucky enough to see are the western tanager, great blue herons, bald eagles, and golden eagles.  

Birds we can almost guarantee you will see are peregrine falcons, turkey vultures, and good old Canada geese, as well as the occasional duck or two!

If you would like some more pictures of birds and wildlife animals in Colorado, be sure to check out FDRD, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District which also offers more information about our forests.

 

Colorado’s Land Animals in The White River National Forest

Colorado is the land of the wild for larger wild animals as well. Yes, there is a possibility you’ll come across black bear, elk, mountain lions, coyotes, red foxes, moose, bobcat, mule deer, white tail deer, porcupine, pikas, snowshoe hare, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. Did you know that snowshoe hare’s beautiful coat changes colors with the season? In the wintertime, snowshoe hares are white to disappear into the snow and in the summer they turn a nice shade of brown to blend in with the forest floor and bushes. When whitewater river rating, our groups can get very loud and animals hate loud noises, so it’s less likely you’ll see any of the larger animals, but we definitely get a glimpse on occasion.  

There are many Colorado marmots that you may see or just hear. The largest of the Colorado land squirrels is the yellow-bellied marmot. The yellow-bellied marmot hibernates throughout the winter, and when approached you will hear a loud warning whistle, which is very unique and earns these animals the nickname “whistle pigs.”

Recently, gray wolves were reintroduced into the Colorado mammal landscape. We have never seen any wolves on our rafting trips to date, but there have certainly been sightings of them throughout the plains and in the ranching communities. In the gray wolf reintroduction process through natural migration, one pack has already established itself in the North Park Mountain Valley near Walden, Colorado, but we have not seen any near the Upper Colorado River, the Arkansas River, or the Blue Rivers.  

Ready to animal watch from a whitewater raft? Call and get signed up for your next Colorado adventure in Buena Vista, Breckenridge, Frisco, Idaho Springs, Kremmling, or Cortez Colorado through Kodi Rafting. If you have any questions about what raft trip will be best for you and your friends or family feel free to give us a call at 877-747-RAFT. We are always happy to answer all your questions and recommend the ideal trip for you!!


This is the river that attracts kayaking fans from all over the USA

Colorado Winter Snow’s Impact on Spring Rafting

We’re in the heart of winter, but we can’t help but wonder how the upcoming rafting season will kick off this spring! After all, winter snowfall and snowpack in the winter have a direct correlation to how our rafting season plays out. Even in the winter months, we start to have a pretty decent idea of how rafting will be later in the year. 

How does snowpack in the winter impact our rafting season?

Snowpack forms from a series of snow storms throughout the season. Snowfall essentially builds layers of preserved moisture to form in high altitudes and cold weather areas. In the winter, snow pack greatly impacts skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, backcountry touring, and avalanche conditions, but it’s important to remember that snow pack affects Colorado year round - not just in the winter. During the warmer days of summer, snow pack can affect all your outdoor activities, especially whitewater rafting.

To put it simply, Colorado’s snowpack acts like a drip irrigation system. As temperatures rise in the spring, snow melts slowly and steadily, first saturating the dry ground, then flowing into our rivers and streams, and filling up our reservoirs. When we get heavy winter snowfall, that snowpack is likely to produce higher-than-normal water runoff in the rivers and streams across Colorado.

On the flip side, when Colorado experiences a winter drought without significant snowfall, rivers and stream levels drop and our rafting season may be shorter. Lower water means that our guests and raft guides will experience slower water along with lower water levels. For those of you excited about rafting in the Spring when water is likely to be higher, we encourage you to watch the timing if you want the most exciting whitewater of the season!

What are previous years showing us?

There is an impact we’re experiencing from our warming climate and ongoing drought. Climate change and warming temperatures can lead to faster snow melting. The trend of warmer climates over the years is concerning and is disrupting this system in numerous ways. Year after year, unusually dry soils from warmer temperatures and a lack of moisture has the earth absorbing more of the water from our snowpack. This means that less water is making it into rivers and streams, essentially limiting the efficiency of the melting snow. When temperatures rise earlier in the Spring and snow stops falling, the snow melts more quickly, and the land becomes drier in the late summer timeframe, impacting wildfire risk.

When researchers analyzed years of snowpack data across the western half of North America, especially in Colorado, they found that snow has been melting earlier in the year than it did in the mid- to late-20th century. If snowmelt begins to dry up earlier in the season, there is less runoff to flow through the ground during the summer months. Unless precipitation increases through rain in warmer weather, there will be fewer overall water resources for us all.

Colorado experiences many different seasonal changes throughout the year and we can even see weather change dramatically over the course of a single day. Our hope is always for more snow throughout our winters which in turn produces better rafting conditions for our whitewater raft guides and guests. High water is measured through stream gauge river sensors recording streamflow in cfs, which stands for cubic feet per second. In other words, river cfs is the amount of water flowing past the sensor at any given point in time. The more water rushing past the sensors indicates the whitewater volume moves at a very swift and fun pace. 

Whether we have a long season of high water or lower river flows, we can’t wait to see you on the rivers this season. It’s not too early to start planning your trip with Kodi Rafting. Choose your river trip here and contact us today for information and reservations online or give us a call at 970-668-1548, so we can help guide your plan for experiencing the rivers of Colorado!


Kremmling, Colorado: A Haven for Outdoor Adventure in the Rockies

Nestled where the Blue River and Colorado River intersect, Kremmling is a haven for outdoor adventure and small-town charm in the Colorado Rockies. Whether you are looking for an exciting day maneuvering the rapids of the Upper Colorado on a Kodi whitewater raft trip, a scenic hike, or a tasty bite to eat at a local spot, you’re sure to find something that will bring you back to this Rocky Mountain town time and time again.

Get Out On the Hiking Trail

Lace-up your boots for a hiking expedition! For an easy-going out and back trail, try Windy Ridge which will lead you to a lake and is also friendly for four-legged friends. For more of a challenge, take a hike along the 2.8-mile Gore Canyon trail. Along the way, you can enjoy the scenery of the breathtaking canyon and even bring along camping gear for a night spent on BLM land for a small fee. Looking for a longer trip? Try the Silver Creek Trail in Arapaho National Forest. The main highlight of this 12-mile trail are wildflowers that can be spotted along the journey. No matter the difficulty level, a hike in the Rockies is always a great way to spend the day.

Enjoy the Views on a Scenic Drive

The Trough Road, which is part of the Colorado River Headwaters Scenic & Historic Byway, sits right outside of Kremmling offering breathtaking views. Driving along the route, you will encounter winding turns and stunning scenery including both the Colorado and Blue Rivers. Make sure to stop and take in the view from Inspiration Point for views of the Gore Canyon where you might even spot a raft floating by! 

Spend Your Day on the Water

With two major rivers and a nearby reservoir within easy access, Kremmling is a hotspot for water recreation! Rent a boat or launch your own onto Wolford Reservoir where you can fish, water ski, knee-board, stand-up paddleboard, or simply enjoy being on the water. Looking for more adventure? Take a whitewater rafting trip along the Upper Colorado. Choose either a half or full-day raft trip that offers gorgeous scenery and mild waters perfect for families. Want to try navigating the river on your own? Book a duckie trip or add one to your rafting expedition to paddle on your own while still having the support of a nearby guide. Keep an eye out for local flora and fauna along the way and you may even catch sight of evidence of prehistoric creatures that once called the area home!

Take a Soak in the Hot Springs

After a day of rafting on the river or a nice long hike, ease sore muscles with a soak in the Hot Sulphur Springs. Take your pick of 21 mineral pools, all heated to temperatures ranging from 95º to 112ºF from nature’s power from underground hot springs. Looking for even more relaxation? Book a massage to truly treat yourself to a day of relaxation. 

For more of an adventurous day, you can hike a mile down to the Radium Hot Springs pools found along the Colorado River just a short drive outside of Kremmling. This experience offers scenic views while you sit in the natural pools. You can often find entertainment and friends along the way in the passing raft trips and cliff jumpers who dive into the chillier waters of the river. Whether you find a hot spring at the end of a hike or in a resort setting, a hot spring soak is the perfect way to replenish tired muscles and lift spirits after a great mountain adventure. 

Grab a Bite to Eat at a Local Hotspot

A day of hiking, rafting, fishing, or relaxing in a hot spring will surely work up your appetite. After a day of adventure, be sure to head into town to grab a bite to eat at a local dining hot spot! Stop into the Grand Old West for homestyle cooking like chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and gravy while you sit in a charming rustic setting. Other nearby eateries include Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant, the Moose Cafe, and Big Shooter Coffee which is the perfect place to grab a coffee, pastry, and even an ice cream cone!

Whether you are seeking a whitewater raft trip, a scenic hiking trail, or a calm getaway to enjoy hot springs, the Kremmling area offers something for everyone! Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and explore the charm of small-town life in the mountains by finding a quiet hiking trail, fishing in a reservoir, or grabbing a bit from a local restaurant. No matter how you decide to spend your time in this Rocky Mountain gem, you are sure to make memories you will never forget!


Classifications of Rapids for Whitewater Rafting in Colorado

Our whitewater rafting guests often ask us questions about river water depth, the kind of rapids they’ll be rafting through, and what the whole class system means as they prepare for their first or even 50th rafting adventure with us.  So we thought we’d bring some clarity to the question and give you an overview of rapids classifications for whitewater river rafting … and provide some expertise on the topic.

Factors in Rapids Classifications

Rapids and the classifications of whitewater vary due to different circumstances: water levels can be high or low depending on the amount of snowmelt and vary as weather conditions change. Our beautiful snowcapped Rocky Mountain peaks melt and flow into Colorado streams, rivers, and reservoirs starting in earnest in May, which is the start of the spring runoff. The start of rafting season usually kicks off in the middle of May as the weather warms up, and tends to max out the highest water flow throughout Colorado depending on altitude and distance from the deepest snow pack. In general, spring snowmelt brings higher water and higher levels of difficulty while running our rivers primarily because the water runs fast and furious, forcing quick decisions as river features change. Water levels fluctuate dramatically throughout the summer and our guides can even see differing conditions between a morning run and an afternoon trip when water levels are in a high state of flux.

What are Rapids Classifications?

Rapids themselves are graded on a class system starting at 1 and progressing to 6.  The higher up the scale they go, the more difficult and the more consequential the stretch of water will be. As an example, there are many variables that can change, either upgrading or downgrading the classification of a rapid. Rapid variables include water levels, objects, under

cut rocks, and strainers (like a log jam). Certain features within a river naturally are more difficult and make it more challenging to navigate. For example, Brown’s Canyon is less difficult to navigate than the Numbers section of the Arkansas River. This is why it’s so great to have an experienced raft guide to help you experience Colorado’s most beautiful areas safely. This, as well as having a great day of fun on the water, is what you experience when rafting with Kodi Rafting. Let’s explore the difference between each classification of whitewater in even more detail than is outlined on our website’s rapids classification page.

Class I is flat, easy moving current. Minimal moves, minimal difficulty. The most difficulty you experience on this level of river is navigating around bends and avoiding shallows, perhaps pulling into eddies. Think of this as a leisurely float down a river. Class I is about staying with the current and literally going with the flow.

Class II is moving current with slightly more difficulty and has specific moves that your raft guide needs to make in order to navigate the river efficiently. The difference between class I and II is the necessity to maneuver around objects or shallow sections. Class II is a moderate river trip and great for families. A bit more adventure and splashing without high anxiety. Join Kodi for class II trips on the Upper Colorado, Blue River, or Clear Creek for 1/2 day or full day trips.

Class III is a moderately difficult section of river, with slightly higher consequences, and with more difficult moves to be made by your raft guide. There is typically faster moving current than class I and class II, and there can be objects and things to avoid along your path. Some of these potential objects could impede your raft, or even flip you over if not navigated around properly. Class II, & III trips are your typical family trips with somewhat older or more adventurous family members. If you’d like to experience a higher level of family excitement, book our Arkansas 1/2 day or full day trip with Kodi at our Buena Vista location, or the Clear Creek Canyon trip departing from Idaho Springs to enjoy class III rapids.

Class IV is a difficult stretch of river. A class IV section has fun, fast and technical rapids. Standing waves, big rocks, turbulent water, and difficult features are all things you will find on Class IV river runs. These rapids are active: multiple objects, multiple variables and multiple moves involved in order to navigate safely. The Numbers of the Arkansas River, and Clear Creek are examples of exciting options Kodi offers to raft this kind of trip, for a high level of excitement and challenge.

Class V is for experts only. This is the most challenging level for a commercially rafted trip. Class V includes lots of maneuvering, with fast consequential moves. Teamwork, communication, coordination, and strong paddling are needed to safely navigate Class V sections of whitewater. These rapids can have large drops, violent currents, and extremely steep gradients – and loads of excitement!

Class VI is extraordinarily difficult or non-runnable sections of river. Rafters face extreme imminent danger. Think cliff drops, big rocks, and scary aspects of challenge. Class VI level rapids are never run commercially, and are often walked around by rafters to avoid them.

So whatever level of challenge, splashes, and excitement you desire, Kodi Rafting can deliver. From calm float trips to expert runs to go big, give us a call to book the rafting adventure that suits your family, group, or yourself!

Call to book your whitewater adventure with us today at 877-747-RAFT or book online here. See you on the river! 


KODI’s Rivers: An Overview

Arkansas River

The Arkansas River starts as a patch of melting snow in Leadville, Colorado, a city rich in mining history and famous for its 10,200-foot elevation. The Ark (as locals like to call it) gains momentum as it flows past some of the biggest mountains in Colorado, benefiting from their abundant snow melt in the spring and summer. From its headwaters, the Arkansas River deliver more than 100 miles of whitewater, making it the most popular river for rafting in the American West. The river’s appeal lies in its wide variety of trips and easy accessibility.

Arkansas River Raft Trips

Blue River

The Blue River is roughly 65 miles long and is a tributary of the mighty Colorado River. Flowing from the Dillon Reservoir Dam just above the town of Silverthorne to the confluence with the Colorado River at Kremmling, the Blue River is easily a candidate for Colorado's most scenic river. Lined by cottonwood trees and crowned by the rugged Gore Mountains, the Blue River winds a scenic course through ranch land, and its public access points are popular among anglers and kayakers alike.

Blue River Raft Trip

Clear Creek

Clear Creek is a tributary of the South Platte River that flows through Clear Creek Canyon in the Rocky Mountains directly west of Denver. It descends through a long gorge to emerge on the Colorado Eastern Plains where it joins the South Platte. Clear Creek is unusual in that it is a stream named "creek" fed by a stream named "river."

Clear Creek Raft Trips

The Upper Colorado River

The Upper Colorado River Basin, defined by the river network above northern Arizona, is comprised of four states—Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. These states contribute to the vast majority of the water coming into the Colorado River Basin, primarily through winter snowpack.

Colorado, specifically, is known as the Headwater State because it’s home to the headwaters of four major rivers: Platte, Arkansas, Rio Grande, and Colorado. The Colorado River flows west out of the slopes of Rocky Mountain National Park and connects to several tributaries, including the Animas, Eagle, Dolores, Yampa, Blue, and Roaring Fork Rivers.

Upper Colorado River Trips

Ten Mile Creek

Ten Mile Creek is a stream in Summit County. It rises above Copper Mountain Ski Resort and follows next to Interstate 70 for several miles before emptying into Dillon Reservoir. The creek and the paved trail that follows alongside it are easily visible from Interstate 70 between Frisco and Copper Mountain Ski Area.

Ten Mile Creek River Trip

Dolores River

A long and winding river in southwestern Colorado, the Dolores flows through canyons packed with enormous ponderosa pine and high sandstone cliffs in brilliant oranges and reds. The river continues its journey from the alpine scenery into the high desert and through canyons dotted with amazing white water, ancient ruins, and untamed wilderness.

Dolores River Raft Trip


Colorado’s Upper Colorado River

The Colorado River provides water to nearly 40 million people, flows through nine National Parks, and drives a $1.4 trillion economy. If the Colorado River basin were a country, it would be the world’s 7th largest by economic output.

The Upper Colorado River Basin, defined by the river network above northern Arizona, is comprised of four states—Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. These states contribute the vast majority of the water coming into the Colorado River Basin, primarily through winter snowpack.

Colorado, specifically, is known as the Headwater State because it’s home to the headwaters of four major rivers—Platte, Arkansas, Rio Grande, and Colorado.

The Colorado River flows west out of the slopes of Rocky Mountain National Park and connects to several tributaries, including the Animas, Eagle, Dolores, Yampa, Blue, and Roaring Fork Rivers.

KODI Rafting runs raft trip on the Upper Colorado River out of Kremmling. The water we raft runs through a unique and beautiful landscape known for its diverse water features, abundant wildlife, and cultural landscape.

Notable sections of the Upper Colorado include Parshall to Blue River, Gore Canyon (where you’ll find extreme class IV and V whitewater), Pumphouse to State Bridge, and State Bridge to Dotsero.

Pumphouse to State Bridge is the most popular section because of its combination of placid waters through pastoral heritage ranchland and more challenging class II and class III rapids in the intervening canyons.

The Colorado River cuts a path through the Gore Mountain Range at the beginning of its long trip to the Pacific Ocean. There are natural hot springs, historic cabins, swimming, hiking, and beautiful scenery. The river is ideal for first time participants, families, and groups of all ages and abilities. The Upper Colorado River is easily accessible from many resorts, including Breckenridge, Vail, Steamboat Springs, and Winter Park.