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!


Leave no trace... We are committed to conserving our magnificent rivers and wild spaces.

Leave the roads; take the trails. – Pythagoras.

Here in Colorado, we love the great outdoors because it gives us the ability to enjoy the beauty and solitude of nature. Whether you’re hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, or kayaking down the river, it’s crucial to enjoy these recreational activities with a “leave no trace” mentality. You might be thinking… Why leave no trace? The answer is simple: we want to keep the great outdoors clean, the wildlife wild, and our fellow humans safe.

 

To fully protect beautiful Colorado and the Colorado rivers, let’s first start with understanding the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace, and then we can learn how to put them in place. 

What are the seven principles of Leave No Trace Principles of River Rafting?

Principle 1: Plan ahead and prepare. 

  • Planning ahead makes your outdoor boating adventure safer for you and the outdoors. Don’t be the group that is unprepared and has a miserable time or is in danger due to your lack of proper equipment and planning. Here at Kodi, we do the planning for you… from clothing like helmets and wetsuits to drinking water for your whitewater rafting day trip. To better prepare for your raft trip please read our article on what to wear to go whitewater rafting

Principle 2: Travel and camp on durable surfaces

  • Be a low-impact camper and adventurer when exploring the outdoors. Rafting leaves less trace than normal outdoor activity because traveling down the river on a raft technically leaves no trace. However, our trace starts when we step on land or allow anything from our raft to fall into the river. When at the put in and take out please keep this in mind. When hiking or exploring, stay on the trails and when camping, try to choose big enough campsites for your whole group, therefore you will not have to damage the terrain surrounding your camp. 

Principle 3: Dispose of waste properly 

  • Kodi lives by the motto… We leave the outdoors better than we found it in order to keep our “Good River Karma”. This means we pick up all trash that isn’t from our group, and we encourage our adventurous whitewater rafting clients to do the same! Things you shouldn’t leave behind are trash, gear, food (yes, even banana peels), and human waste. Just remember to pack it in and pack it ALL out. 

Principle 4: Leave what you find

  • Leave what you find means just what you think it means… Don’t take that “cool” rock. Don’t dig a trench for your tent. Don’t construct lean-tos. Don’t cut down a tree to burn as your firewood. Certainly don’t pick wildflowers (they need to go to seed and regenerate for next season!) Your initials are cute but please don’t carve them into a tree! Always remember to minimize our alterations to the outdoors, so everyone can enjoy the beauty without seeing you were there before! 

Principle 5: Minimize campfire impact 

  • One of the best parts of camping is enjoying stories around a campfire with your friends and loved ones. Whether you like to sit around the campfire and tell scary stories, drink a cold one, or roast some marshmallows into s’mores, we want to do it in a minimal impact way. For more information and tips on minimizing your campfire impact, go here.

Principle 6: Respect wildlife

  • Seeing wildlife while rafting down the Arkansas, Clear Creek, Blue, and Colorado rivers is common and we love to enjoy these majestic animals from a distance, however wildlife is easily scared by loud noises, and quick movements. Respecting wildlife is simple… Please never disturb or feed the wildlife. You are encouraged to enjoy the wildlife from a distance so they do not become scared and feel forced to leave. And any human food can mess with their systems and in the case of bears even get them killed if they become too comfortable around people and campsites. Don’t be that forest visitor. 

Principle 7: Be considerate of others 

  • You are not the only one who loves to take advantage of the Rocky Mountain outdoors, so remember to be kind and considerate to your outdoor neighbors! Often we are sharing the rivers with our fellow raft companies’ guides and clients, so please respect them. When boating the Arkansas River, Colorado River, or any river, you will raft through many private properties, so do remember to respect the private property you’re boating through. 

 

For more about the 7 principles of “leave no trace”, kindly go here.

Join us at Kodi and live by the Leave No Trace Principles of Whitewater River Rafting to reduce our paddlers’ footprint. We leave what we find, we take photographs and epic memories but nothing else; so book your summer rafting trip or call us at (877) 747-RAFT and we can practice minimum impact on our outdoors together while having a blast!


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!


A woman's woman packing gifts for the holiday

Holiday Gift Guide

It’s common this time of the year to be stumped on what to get our family and friends for the holidays. Gifting well can be hard! We love the outdoors so much and sharing it is not only fun, but it’s so great for our health. So, why not give the gift of wellness this season! Give the gift that can make someone’s time in the outdoors that much better. We’ve created a list of must-haves for the outdoor enthusiast in your life to make gifting both easy and meaningful!

We may be biased, but we have a deep love for Melanzana’s line of outdoor clothing. “Melly’s”, as the locals call them, is a Colorado staple that is 100% local and hand-made and loved by rafting and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Located on Main Street in Leadville, a small group of locals started Melanzana back in ’94 and has since exploded in popularity. Melanzana makes unique and fun colored hoodies, beanies, dresses, and more. But beware, they are in limited supply and the shop requires a reservation ahead of time to shop in person (no online shopping is available) and caps your purchases at 2 items, so plan accordingly. 

Melly’s come in a few different fabrics, but most Melanzana lovers go for their classic Micro Grid fabric, a super-soft, lightweight fleece with a grid of open channels to maximize comfort and breathability. Micro-Grid fabrics are great for rafting and any outdoor activity - they’re warm, fast-drying, and pretty sweet looking! Melanzana prides themselves on their commitment to putting “quality, soul, and authenticity before quantity” so their 20-person team of skilled sewers meticulously assembles each garment, making each one unique, and are available to be hemmed if needed. Putting some serious thought behind your gift giving coupled with supporting a local brand is thoughtful from multiple angles!

Any gear head appreciates a gift to add to their collection of quality outdoor items. Check out CKS on Main Street in Buena Vista because they have it all. Tools, gear, clothing - you can’t go wrong grabbing some stocking stuffers there, or even splurging on a larger item that screams, ‘you know me so well!’. CKS has Yeti coolers and mugs, roof racks, paddles, drysuits, and great clothing to name a few items from their well-stocked shelves. After talking to some of our guides, they agree any of these items for a holiday gift would be stellar! Whether you’re looking for rafting-related gifts or other sports, we highly recommend stopping in this shop for a look at their merchandise.

If you’re looking for something a little less material and with special meaning, download the photos we snapped of you on your latest Kodi Rafting trip from our website! With potential supply chain issues slowing down shipment of online gifts, this is a great gift idea that is unique and special to you and your group, and you can download them quickly! Give the gift of memories, or even use those rafting pics for your annual Christmas card. You can access and download your photos here. You can even use your photos to create photo gifts like pillows, Christmas tree decorations, mugs, or t-shirts!

Our last gifting idea this holiday season is a future trip with us for the upcoming 2022 rafting season. Even though our rafting and adventure trips run during spring and summer, you can give the gift of adventure year-round. With KODI Rafting, it’s easy to purchase gift certificates online. You can give a dollar amount or choose from our list of rafting or adventure trips. We can even personalize an itinerary for you. Just give us a call and we’ll craft the perfect adventure for your gift!

Some gift ideas…

-Zip Line and Raft the Arkansas River

-$100 toward a KODI Rafting adventure

-Browns Canyon Half Day Raft Trip

Treat your friends and loved ones to memories that will last a lifetime by purchasing an adventure with Kodi, or support our locals and shop small at one of the many awesome shops in Buena Vista and Leadville.

We’re wishing you all a safe, fun, and happy holiday season. Whether you’re spending the holidays with family or friends near or far, we hope it’s filled with joy.


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.

 


Fun Places to Eat in Buena Vista

Now that times are changing and our river community is opening up again, we’re especially excited to meet up with friends to enjoy some food out on the town! We’re so enthused about this summer season and we know you are too, so make sure you’re fueled up when you come on the river with us, in between activities (horseback riding, ziplining, biking, enjoying the hot springs, and of course white water rafting), or quench your hunger after you finish your day of whitewater rafting at these delicious spots around Buena Vista. One of the most common questions we get at the BV outpost is “Where do you like to eat around here?” So straight from the mouths of our guides, we’re sharing the inside scoop on some of their favorite places. This list is in no particular order, because each one is so delicious for different reasons and tastes!

  1. One of our favorites is the Deerhammer Distillery 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.
  1. A few doors down from Deerhammer is a gourmet hot dog food truck, owned by a former KODI raft guide Danny aka “Res-Q” named Fancy Weiner. Seattle Dog & the Jalapeño popper are out of this world hot dog combos. Support a local business and a super cool raft guide by grabbing one of the best weiners you’ll likely ever have! And of course pick up a Fancy Weiner shirt or something to take home and get a laugh from your friends.
  1. Buena Viking is a food truck located right off Main Street and every item will, without a doubt, make you want to come back for more because the flavors are simply delicious! Featuring elevated burgers, sandwiches and mouth watering sides, The Buena Viking is a favorite among KODI guides and once you make a stop there you’ll understand why!
  1. While we’re on the topic of raft guides who own food trucks, head to The Olive for a super tasty Mediterranean spot. If you’re looking for a healthy vegan and vegetarian place in town, this is the food truck for you! Gyros, falafels, and even gluten free options are all on the menu at the Olive. Support local, and buy delicious healthy Mediterranean food prepared with a lot of love.
  1. Casa Sanchez will satisfy your Mexican food cravings again and again! Located at 314 Charles Street, Casa Sanchez has an extensive menu of burritos, enchiladas, tacos, and pretty much any Mexican dish you could possibly be imagining. Big, healthy portions of food are paired with the perfect sized margaritas, making Casa Sanchez one of our guides’ favorite places in town!
  2. Open Thursday- Monday and located at 234 Highway 24S, Biggies Subs is best known for their steak and cheese hoagie- you gotta try it! They also serve reubens, gyros, salads, cold subs, and a wide selection of fried foods. Try one of their own creations The Biggie, The Stinger, or the Ham Stinger. The KODI team couldn’t stop raving about their sandwiches. Also on their menu, we recommend you try one of the Buena Vista locals favorites: The Green Chili Philly, Hot Roast Beef & Cheddar, or the Turkey, Bacon, Ranch Pita - yum!

Well, there you have it! Locals know best, so we’re sure you won’t be disappointed with any of these delicious options. With most cafes and restaurants fully opening up, feel free to grab lunch in town and bring it over to KODI’s picnic tables to enjoy by the river before, after, or in between your adventures. Whether you want to arrive early for your rafting trip or save it for after, you and your group are more than welcome to refuel at our picnic tables we have set up outside with one of the best views around and plenty of parking!

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 online or call us at 970-668-1548 so we can help plan the highlight of your vacation!


Camping Near Buena Vista

Camping is the quintessential way to get the full Rocky Mountain experience! Whether your idea of camping is in a picturesque and remote campsite, a site with all of the amenities, or in the comfort of an RV, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy camping near Buena Vista. And with plenty of outdoor adventure to be found in Buena Vista, there’s no better place to pitch a tent or park your camper! 

Dispersed Camping on BLM Land Near Buena Vista 

For those desiring an off-grid experience, dispersed camping on BLM land (meaning land owned by the Bureau of Land Management) 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, a sturdy tent, and ample water (including for washing up) for a trip to any of these dispersed campgrounds!

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 environment.

Browns Creek Trail also offers dispersed camping and has the added benefit of restrooms, which can be an important consideration. The Colorado Trail #1776 and Fourmile Travel Management Area also offer dispersed camping as well as space for activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Explore the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness as you hike the North Cottonwood Trail. This trail extends for 4.3 miles and leads to Kroenke Lake. Campers can park along the road to North Cottonwood Trail which is perfect for camping to get an early start on this beautiful trail. 

Buena Vista Campgrounds with all the Bells and Whistles

If you desire amenities while you camp or plan to bring an RV along, you can check out these paid camping sites. Campsites allow the convenience of on-site showers, restrooms, and more as well as the relief of having a saved spot when you book your reservation in advance. There’s no wandering around in the woods looking for a site when you reserve a campsite! 

The Arkansas River Rim Campground & R.V. Park offers tent sites, recreational vehicle sites, and camper cabins for nightly and weekly rates. This campground features amenities including restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, on-site river access, WiFi, and even ice and firewood available for purchase. 

For creekfront camping, head to the Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park. With both tent sites and space for R.V.s, this campsite offers access to Chalk Creek, a playground, games, and an on-site store stocked with all campground necessities! For even more comfort, you can book a cabin that comes complete with a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen.

Book a tent site, R.V. site, cabin, or a yurt at Arrowhead Point Campground & Cabins. Amenities like a pavilion, playground, sand volleyball court, badminton court, horseshoe pits, restrooms, laundry facilities, and even an espresso bar will make sure that you never run out of fun and entertainment while camping! 

Group and raft guide maneuvering bumpy river rapids on an advanced whitewater rafting adventure

Things to Do

Between nights sleeping in your tent or in your RV, explore the stunning natural scenery that awaits in Buena Vista! From hiking, horseback riding, and of course white water rafting, you can’t beat an opportunity to get a true Rocky Mountain experience. 

For hikers who want to gain some serious altitude, the Collegiate Peaks can be found outside of Buena Vista and feature a handful of 14’ers named after Ivy League Universities like Mt. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Oxford. These trails are challenging, with serious elevation gains and varying conditions. Make sure you know the skill level and equipment you will need to have a safe day on these hiking trails.  

For a less strenuous hiking day, throw on your hikers and enjoy a trek along the 2.6-mile Lost Lake Trail which is an out-and-back style trail that is dog-friendly. Or, hike along Cottonwood Pass’s 3.1-mile trail that is also dog-friendly and offers plenty of stunning views. No matter what hiking trail you pick, exploring the natural scenery and keeping an eye out for wildlife and wildflowers! Just remember the Leave No Trace ethos and pack out what you pack in.

You can also hop into the saddle and enjoy the Rocky Mountains on horseback. Kodi features 2-hour horseback riding trips and a saddle-paddle experience that combines horseback riding with a white water rafting excursion. You don’t want to miss the experience to be in the Rockies like a true cowboy! And of course, you can’t experience a summer in the Rockies without a white water rafting trip! Take a full-day or half-day trip through Browns Canyon National Monument, navigate through the thrilling rapids on a Numbers trip, or, for the most advanced rafters, get on a full-day or half-day Pine Creek raft adventure including two class IV rapids like Triple Drop. With trips for all adventure levels and through stunning scenery, there’s really no better way to spend a day or overnight than on a Buena Vista river rafting trip!


Hiking the Collegiate Peaks in Buena Vista

The mountains of Colorado give way to some of the most impressive hiking trails in the United States. Getting outside on a trail and getting your body moving under the warm Colorado sun is so enjoyable! From shorter hikes with minimal elevation gain, to the more challenging and longer hikes that lead up to the tallest peaks in Colorado, there are amazing hiking options for every type of hiker. If you enjoy hiking and want a great challenge, we highly recommend hiking a 14er. Out here in Colorado, the accomplishment of hiking to the peak of a 14,000 ft mountain, or as us locals say “14er” is like obtaining a badge of honor. We arguably have a total of 54-14ers in Colorado and once you get a taste of summiting one of them, you’ll be hooked! There are quite a few people who try to complete hiking all of them, which is an incredible accomplishment. If your goal is to hike them all in your lifetime, or you just want to get the first one under your belt, there are loads of important things to keep in mind and ways to prepare for your hike to the summit.

The Sawatch mountain range in Buena Vista includes a group of 14,000 ft mountains called the Collegiate Peaks which are some of the tallest mountains in the Rocky Mountains. The Collegiate Peaks are named after Ivy League Universities and are among the highest concentration of 14,000 foot peaks in the United States. Mt. Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Yale, Oxford, and Belford are some of the most impressive and stunning peaks in the area and are sought out by avid hikers that crave to see the jaw-dropping views from the top. OK well, Belford isn’t a University, but it’s still part of the range!

When choosing which 14er you want to summit, it’s very important to plan and study your route. Having a strong understanding of what your chosen route looks like on a map helps prepare you for different parts of the trail. 14ers.com is a great site that has current information on trail conditions, elevation gain, length of each hike, printable maps, and even includes comments from hikers that have done each hike with their reviews. All Trails is a great app to use as well, but be sure to download the route and trail prior to getting started so there is no chance that you’ll lose the map because of lost cell service when you’re on the trail.

Always be prepared for changing weather. Depending on where you live, you are most likely going to experience a drastic change in elevation when coming to Colorado. A change in elevation means a definite change in temperature and weather. You could get lucky at the base of the trail with warm weather, but we can promise you the temps at the top are not nearly as warm. Make sure you are prepared with synthetic layers in your backpack to keep you dry. We highly recommend wearing something like a Melanzana to protect you from the weather. Check out some awesome layers that we recommend here.

Temperature fluctuation isn’t the only factor when considering weather- thunderstorms and lighting often occur in the summertime. It’s not uncommon for the day to start off with blue skies, but in a matter of minutes, that blue sky can turn very dark and ominous. Be mindful that if a thunderstorm comes along when you are hiking above treeline, you will be sticking out like a literal lightning rod. Keep an eye on the sky during your summit – be smart and head back to the trail head if the sky looks threatening. The mountain will be there for your ascent another day.

Wear appropriate clothing. Close toed shoes with ankle support is the best kind of shoe you can wear. Merrell and Columbia have great hiking boot options that will provide support and comfort as you make your trek to the mountain top. Although not required, it’s helpful to hike with trekking poles to maintain balance and they provide that extra push when climbing up steep terrain and are helpful when navigating across rubble and loose rocks, or even snow fields. Black Diamond makes durable trekking poles that we recommend.

Once you start hiking above treeline, you lose all shade to protect you from the sun’s intense rays. We recommend wearing a hat with a wide brim to protect your face, and definitely wear sunscreen even if there are clouds. Remember, you are gaining elevation, and essentially getting closer to the sun with very little atmosphere to filter those rays.

Bring a first aid kit. It’s always good to be prepared! Summiting a 14,000 ft mountain is challenging, and you wouldn’t want to be in a bad situation without any sort of aid. From blisters to a headache to a twisted ankle, you want to be prepared for anything. 

Start early! When we say early, we mean start before the sun even comes up. You don’t want to be on the summit after noon, as that is when weather often changes quickly and it’s essential to be off a high summit at that time. If you’re planning on hiking a 14er that’s far from where you are staying, think about camping at the trailhead so you can be sure to get up and get started before the sun rises. Make sure to check trail rules about this as each trail is different and may or may not allow camping at the base. This is where planning ahead comes into play!

Eat a nutritious breakfast. You will be expending a lot of energy on this hike. This is a perfect time to consume complex carbs along with protein and fats to give your body as many nutrients as you can. Stop along the way to refuel and indulge in snacks. Bringing snacks on the hike up is a key element that will ensure that the energy you are exerting is being restored by nutrition. Ensuring that the group you’re hiking with is feeling good, staying hydrated, and refueling with snacks is a great way to ensure your whole group is in good shape to finish the hike. Here are some of our favorite snack options

Stay well hydrated. Try to drink a liter of water before even starting your hike. As a rule of thumb, you should be drinking 1 liter for every 2 hours of hiking. If this is your first attempt at bagging a 14er, it will probably take you 3-6 hours to complete your hike. We recommend bringing 2-3 liters in a bladder such as a Camelback. Don’t expect to re-fill your water bottle along the route, there are parasites in the streams that will make you sick if you don’t treat it before drinking. You can bring water filtration along (a good idea in any case) but don’t count on it as some routes can be dry.

The last thing we suggest when hiking a 14er, is to push past your mental limitations!. We’ll admit it – the first part of the hike is going to be challenging. It’s going to be steep and your mind might focus on the larger goal. Take it one step at a time, you CAN do it, and it will get easier if you push yourself. Encourage your hiking buddies when they’re feeling defeated, and you’ll feel inspired to keep trekking as well. Choosing your hiking partners wisely is also important – those that are rational, prepared, experienced, and upbeat are the best!

Enjoy reaching the summit- you’re on top of the world! Give yourself some time to enjoy the views, and take lots of photos. Locals sometimes like to bring a sign that has the name of the 14er on it with it’s elevation so you can snap a photo at the top with a proud smile showing which mountain you successfully summited – just be sure to pack it out with you, as you do with everything you take on the mountain. Leave no trace is the motto. 

We hope this guide to hiking a 14er helps get you prepared for a fun, exciting, and tremendous achievement. If you’re planning on visiting Buena Vista and have a knack for hiking, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to summit one of the beautiful Collegiate Peaks. The views will last a lifetime. Happy hiking!


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.

Recreation

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.

Food

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.

Entertainment

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.

Accommodation

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!


Your Rafting Photos for Sentimental Gifts this Holiday Season

The Covid 19 worldwide pandemic has certainly impacted all our lives, and brought into focus the gift of time with family and friends. With the holidays right around the corner, you’re sure to be on the hunt for perfect gifts to surprise the special people on your list. There’s no better way to remember adventures with family and friends than making use of your rafting photos as personalized gifts! Capture the excitement you felt while navigating the river on your rafting trips as you create a unique gift that is sure to be a highlight of the holiday season. From Holiday cards, to t-shirts for the next family getaway, or even a personalized mug for dad, you can highlight your past whitewater adventures in so many ways! Buy your whitewater rafting photos today to get ahead on your holiday shopping!

Include Your Photos in Holiday Traditions

Use your whitewater rafting photos to spread holiday cheer! Share your memories and adventures from the year by including the photos on your Holiday cards! Sending these cards will connect friends and family near and far as well as be a beautiful way to remember amazing memories exploring the rivers of Colorado with Kodi Rafting. You can add a sentimental touch by creating customized gift tags, wrapping paper, stamps, or gift labels that will make for a special moment before the gift is even unwrapped. 

Want even more personalized holiday magic? Turn your rafting photo into an ornament that will be a warm memory every year when it is hung on the tree during your seasonal celebrations. Including your rafting photo and date in your family’s favorite holiday traditions makes for a perfect reminder of the year’s memories.

Highlight your photos on Items for the Home

Another perfect way to mark the holidays and create a sentimental gift is to put your rafting photo on an item for your or your loved one’s home! Include your rafting photos in a calendar that will fill next year with memories. Start each day off right for your friends and family as they sip coffee from a personalized mug highlighted by smiling faces and roaring waters. Gift a custom blanket so your family member can cozy up under it at the end of the day comforted by the memory of time with friends and family. Or even put together a photo book that documents your travels and can serve as an accent to the coffee table!

A custom throw pillow adds a splash of decor and fun to a couch or chair while also showcasing your adventurous spirit. Order raft photo magnets to put a smile on the face of your gift recipient and bring a smile whenever that special someone opens their fridge. Or, create a custom candle that will bring light and warmth into the home of your family or friends. 

Want something to do with the family after all the presents have all been unwrapped? Gift a puzzle to work on together that, once completed, will reveal your looks of excitement as you go through the rapids! Personalized stickers can also be fun for children and adults alike as you decorate water bottles, notebooks, laptops, skateboards, or anything else you wish to personalize! Of course, you can always gift a beautifully framed photo or canvas print that will grace your loved one’s walls or shelves. Regardless of what home-enhancing gift you decide to customize with your rafting photos, these ideas will surely be a perfect way to relive past adventures. 

Rafting Photos As Fashion Statements

Turn your photos into a fashion statement or accessory! Unwrapping a gift that the recipient gets to wear and remember your whitewater rafting adventures is sure to make for a memorable gift. Plus, a custom t-shirt or hoodie can be the perfect accessory for a future family reunion or get together with friends! 

Carry whitewater memories with you with a personalized tote bag! From grocery shopping to the bookstore, or even just as a bag for going around town, having a custom tote will mean your memories travel with you or your loved one wherever they go. A personalized phone case can also serve as a daily reminder of your travels in the Colorado Rockies and even start conversations about your whitewater rafting experiences!

Transform your rafting photos into a cloth facemask. Help loved ones stay safe by gifting them a personalized facemask that will serve as a reminder of great memories made while adventuring in the mountains. No matter how you decide to accessorize with your rafting memories, this gift will be sure to bring a smile to your loved one’s face (even from under a mask!) and become a conversation starter to whoever they interact with. 

Transforming your rafting photos into a personalized gift for yourself, your family, and friends will definitely add magic to this holiday season. From a fashion statement to a home staple,, any way you pull in your photos will serve as a wonderful reminder of your trips down Colorado rivers!