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”!


My Raft Guide and How to Tip Them!

A lot goes into making a fun and memorable rafting trip, and the most significant component is your raft guide! Navigation. Equipment. Safety. Communication. Entertainment, and more. Your guide holds a lot of titles as they deliver a trip you’ll love and remember. But what exactly goes into their training? And how do you give a little extra when you arrive safe and sound as you exit the river?

What Goes Into Being a Rafting Guide?

It takes a particular person to choose raft guiding as a career. Keeping you safe and healthy is their primary concern, but there’s so much more to it than that.  Before beginning training, the guide has to have the right personality for the job and many of the first year trainees don’t make the cut. Sometimes, guests offer challenges or don’t pay attention, and rafters have been known to come out of the raft and need assistance. Keeping a level head and treating everyone with dignity and respect are crucial. After that, guide training begins!

 

Initial Training

A raft guide learns all the ropes in an immersive training program. Guide training requires quick and repetitive learning, some creativity, and tremendous attention to detail  to successfully complete the training regimen and get “checked out” on each section of river they learn. After completing a rigorous screening process, guide training programs conduct a river navigation interview. All complete a guide training course. It’s no different for Kodi Guides. Over the span of over an initial 50 hours, your raft guide will become expert in things like:

First Aid and CPR: Colorado requires all guides to get a CPR certification before completing their course. While they practice in the course, all have to do outside work to get their certification. This means a lot of hands-on experience as they prepare to care for you on your trip.

Equipment training: The best guides know how to prepare and maintain their vessel and its equipment like the back of their hand. Training’s conducted using the rafts, along with oars, paddles, and ropes. Knot tying is included to ensure proper tie downs and that all safety riggings are in top working condition.

River and Terrain Navigation: Guides only take their rafts down river sections they have spent hours and days become familiar with. At Kodi, our guides are certified on their assigned sections. So you know they’re experts in the ever-changing water you’re coursing through, and includes learning the location of boulders, rapids, and other river features.

Our guides have the option to attend follow-up training as well. This includes swift water and whitewater rescue. Check out more of what makes a great KODI guide here.

What Does Our Guide Do For Us?

Initial training is only the beginning. Your guide is learning new things every day. Remember that they aren’t only there to steer the raft through the rapids. Their job is to interact with you in all the ways that are fun, educational, and make your experience terrific. Talk to them, ask lots of questions, and hear more about the journey that got them to the back of your raft. And get ready for more stories (and jokes) to follow!

 

Rafting Preparation

It pays to prepare! And while you’re getting ready for your whitewater rafting trip, so is your guide. Take a look at what to expect on your ride. First on the list is the safety brief for your boat crew. This covers topics such as boat commands, staying warm and dry, and what to do in emergencies. Once that’s out of the way, your guide will issue you the standard equipment. They know weather conditions as they change and will ensure you’re ready for anything. The gear you’ll get can include your Personal Floatation Device (PFD), helmet (required), splash jacket, wet suit, and booties. And your guide is an expert in these so be sure to ask for help when you need it!

 

History Lessons and Sight-Seeing

Your KODI guide is an expert in the history of their river area. And they actually enjoy talking about it so come prepared with those questions! If you’re an animal lover, you’ve come to the right place for rafting. The water attracts many woodland creatures and chances are you’ll see more than a few. Take a look at our list and see how many you find! Your guide’s eyes are scanning to pick out sights you’ll want to see. From bighorn sheep to freshwater trout to birds of prey, they know exactly what to look for so you can enjoy the ride.

 

Multi-Day Trips

What’s better than one day rafting down the river? Two or more days of course! And with a trained KODI raft guide, this is an adventure like no other. It’s good for all ages so the family’s welcome. Enjoy the water AND camping without lugging your own gear around. Your guide will do that for you in your very own gear raft that follows along on your ride. Your guide wears the hat of the culinary artist as they prepare your food and deal with clean-up. All you have to do is enjoy the beautiful Colorado scenery! Find out more about our multi-day rafting and camping excursions here.

 

Group Trips

Sure, you can go it alone but rafting is better in groups. It’s that guy’s trip you and your buddies have been planning. Family reunions are great opportunities as well. Or do something unique for your bachelor/bachelorette party. Whatever the occasion, our guides will help prepare your group for a ride to remember. KODI’s preferred group trip is a Class III ride. It offers great opportunities to snag some super fun and memorable photos (we’re talking to you, newlyweds).

 

And MORE!

Your guide loves the river. And keeping it clean is as important to them as the natural flora and fauna. In Colorado, we practice “leave no trace” which means you take out what you bring in and leave it better than before. Your guide will keep an eye on trash or belongings and prevent anything from falling in. And our guides know the local areas – after all, they live there. They’ll provide recommendations on other activities or places to eat. Just ask.

 

How Do We Tip Our Guide?

As you can tell, a lot goes into becoming and being a rafting guide. They love their job and helping you create amazing memories on the water. And they typically live on the outpost during the summer, often in a tent, so tips help support their need for pizza, breakfast burritos, and new gear. If you enjoyed your experience, we encourage tipping your guide. But how do you tip? Is there a standard rule? Well, the answer is how much you feel like giving! Tipping 20% like other service industries is your easiest option. For groups, $50-100 is recommended per raft guide. Our guides prefer cash and you can hand it off directly to say Thank You at the end of your ride. No cash on you? No problem! Ask one of the staff about using a credit card or ATM, and some guides even have Venmo to make it super easy.

If you feel a tip isn’t warranted, please let us know why so we can understand what to do differently. While we recommend a tip, not tipping without feedback can get a little weird for all parties. 

 

Ready to get out there and spend time with your very own KODI rafting guide? Call us to schedule your next single or multi-day trip today! We’re excited to give you a great experience!


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!


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.

 


The Ultimate Bachelorette or Bachelor Party in Buena Vista, CO

Congratulations- you’re getting married! The venue’s been reserved, the cake’s been tasted, and the photographer’s been booked. But what are you planning on doing for your final fling before the ring? Let us answer that for you. You’re going to gather your besties and plan a bachelorette or bachelor adventure in Buena Vista, Colorado!

Whether your bridesmaids or groomsmen have known each other forever, or they’re just coming together to celebrate your nuptials for the first time, nothing creates memories quite like a unique, fun, and exciting adventure! Located a beautiful drive 70 minutes south of Breckenridge on the Arkansas River, and among the Collegiate Peaks, Buena Vista will cover all your dream trip experiences. There is so much to offer in Buena Vista – from exciting outdoor adventures, to relaxing natural hot springs, having your bachelorette or bachelor party in Buena Vista will be a unique and memorable getaway that will be sure to last a lifetime! Here are a few ways you can celebrate the transition to becoming Mr. or Ms. Right:

Whitewater Rafting

From calm floats to extreme expert trips, Kodi Rafting has something thrilling for everyone. We love hosting Bachelor and Bachelorette parties for a fun day on the water, as our group trips are in high demand. Our most popular trip, Browns Canyon, starts from Buena Vista and is a class III adventure. A couple-hour rafting trip is a great way for your wedding party to bond, and getting photos of your wedding party going through the rapids will be a memory that will bring smiles to everyone’s face and tales of that one groomsman who took a swim. Let us know ahead of time you’re celebrating your bachelorette or bachelor party, and we’ll be sure to make it memorable. Once you’ve decided on which trip is best for your group, make sure to read our other blog post about what to wear when white water rafting to get your wedding party prepared for a great day on the water.

Horseback Riding

Seeing the mountains from the seat of a saddle with the people in your life that mean the most, is bound to be a beautiful experience. 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. This trip is the perfect way to optimize an adventurous bachelor or bachelorette party while also crossing off two unforgettable experiences in one day. Whether your friends have prior experience riding a horse or not, we have multiple horses to saddle up on, and the horse wranglers help you choose the right horse.

Zip-lining

Check out our dual whitewater rafting and zipping trip to experience the mountains in a variety of ways. This whitewater classic offers unbelievable Rocky Mountain scenery, class III rapids, and calm water perfect for a relaxing float after your thrilling day. After your rafting experience, the shuttle will bring you back to the Arkansas River Outpost – a beautiful drive in view of several towering 14,000-foot peaks.

Breweries & Distilleries

Nothing says “bachelorette” or “bachelor” party like a stop at a brewery or distillery for celebratory toasts! In Buena Vista, Eddyline Brewery was founded to heighten life’s adventures by providing amazing wood-fired cuisine, the most drinkable craft beers, and warm and inviting atmospheres where you can celebrate, reflect on, and plan your next life adventure. With delicious brews, tasty appetizers, and mouth-watering BBQ, we highly recommend taking your party here for a bite to eat for lunch or dinner. If your party enjoys whiskey, you absolutely need to check out Deerhammer Distillery. From their cornerstone single malt to new 4-grain bourbon and limited run single barrel spirits, they’ve redefined the flavor of American whiskey. And they mix up craft cocktails using their spirits that are delicious and memorable. Buena Vista has other great options for food around town, so you can definitely fill your day tasting and sipping the best, local dishes, and cocktails in town.

Drive-In Movie

Opening back up in Spring ’21, Comanche drive-in is nestled at the head of the Arkansas Valley, at an elevation of 8000 ft, surrounded by magnificent peaks. Take your friends here for a 4K digital clarity movie one night while you’re in town and pack a picnic (and some classy champagne in flutes!) with cheese and crackers for a night under the stars. Get there early enough to enjoy the sunset while surrounded by some monumental mountains.

Hot Springs

Whether the focus of your bachelorette or bachelor party is pampering the bride-to-be or having one last wild night on the town, be sure to check out the hot springs that are in or around Buena Vista. Cottonwood Hot Springs are restorative and relaxing with soaking pools, fed by natural artesian hot springs while being a little more hippie-esque. Mount Princeton Hot Springs is another nearby oasis, with the option of booking two days of hot springs included with an overnight stay in one of their cabins or lodge rooms – such a great idea for a wedding party! Last but certainly not least, The Merrifield Homestead Cabins & Hot Springs combine both tranquility of nature and rustic handcrafted luxury. All of these hot springs will bring you relaxation and rejuvenation leading up to your big day.