Rafting Glenwood Springs: What to Expect in Glenwood Canyon

Great times on the Shoshone Rapids.
Great times on the Shoshone Rapids.

Glenwood Canyon Rafting Overview

Rafting Glenwood Springs is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with everlasting memories! Over the course of 3 million years, the powerful Colorado River carved an impressive 16-mile canyon that provides us endless enjoyment today; in addition to rafting the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon, you can recreate nearby by hiking and biking too! We are firm believers that rafting Glenwood Springs is one of the best Colorado River rafting trips out there. To help you get the most out of your trip in the canyon, here’s a rundown of what you can expect on the day of your Glenwood Springs rafting trip.

So you want to get out on Defiance’s Glenwood Canyon Half-Day rafting trip. You can take advantage of Defiance’s embedded online checkout or give us a call and we’ll take it from there. Taking advantage of our electronic waivers makes checking in a breeze come the day of your raft trip, and it means one less thing for you to worry about as you set out on your Colorado River whitewater rafting adventure.

What should I bring on my Glenwood Springs rafting trip?

The basics:

  1. Change of clothes
  2. Sunscreen
  3. Hat
  4. Sunglasses
  5. Footwear that secures to your feet
  6. Water
  7. Lanyard-style waterproof case (if you want to bring your phone)

A good rule of thumb is less is more when it comes to whitewater rafting. You are on vacation; let us sweat the small stuff. Your job is to kick back and enjoy your time on the Colorado River. We’re all about facilitating the fun and helping to create lasting memories.

What you need to bring is a change of clothes. Dress like you’re going to the beach: swimwear is great, but athletic (i.e. quick-dry) or sun clothing is even better.  It can easily hit 100 degrees while rafting Glenwood Canyon in the middle of the summer. Colorado’s high altitude and bluebird skies make the sun intense. Sun protection is huge so bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses for your trip. Rain and wind don’t keep us off the river, so feel free to use Defiance’s complimentary cold-weather gear (i.e., splash pants, splash top, wetsuits) to stay warm and comfortable while out on the river. One more thing we require before you go rafting with us is footwear that has a strap that will secure it to your foot, think Chacos, Keens, or Crocs. Flip flops are great, but if you jump in one of our swimming holes, there is a decent chance that you’ll lose them. If you don’t have any secured footwear or forgot them, we have a wide selection of complimentary river booties that are guaranteed to keep your feet warm and protected.

That’s it. That’s all we require you to bring. If your party is looking for a more laid-back trip or something that features a catered lunch, we do offer Glenwood Canyon private rafting trips and full-day rafting trips. But for the normal Glenwood Canyon Half-Day, you’ll be having too much fun even to bother getting after your lunch. If the little ones need a small snack our guides would be more than happy to carry a granola bar or two but remember you are only on the water for about 2.5 hours.

Glenwood Springs is at 5,761’. Altitude sickness is real and no joke around here. We recommend drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You are encouraged to bring a water bottle or purchase one at our boathouse before heading out.

While it’s always fun to get a great adventure selfie, know that if your phone falls into the river and sinks, we cannot turn off the Colorado River and find it. We recommend investing in a lanyard-style waterproof case if you bring your phone: it’ll be secure, protected, and readily accessible when documenting your experience. Go Pros are fine to bring, but we do have a limited supply of helmets that have mounts, as with cell phones keeping that camera secure is your responsibility.

We understand how crazy wrangling a family into an adventure can be. As long as your party shows up ready to get wet and ready to get some sun, everything else will be ok. We do ask that the day you are rafting, you show up for check-in 45 minutes before your scheduled trip time. This will give us plenty of time to gear everyone up, overview river safety, and introduce you to your guide.

River gear fitting area at the Defiance boathouse.
River gear fitting area at the Defiance boathouse.

After check-in, you’ll make your way to one of our River Pros, who will fit you with a Personal Floatation Device (PFD, aka lifejacket) and any extra river gear if needed. After that, you’ll make your way down to our safety pavilion, where we will do a brief safety orientation with everyone on the trip. Afterwards, you’ll be introduced to your guide.

River Pro, Brad, giving a safety briefing.
River Pro, Brad, giving a safety briefing.

To raft Shoshone (the big Class III rapids), a participant must be over 50 lbs; if not, or if they choose not to run the rapids, we will meet up with them below the mile-and-a-half stretch of rapids at Grizzly Creek. Grizzly Creek features a nice wide beach, where the rafts will pull right up to. This is also our launch spot if you want to relax and float the Colorado River. For those kiddos under 50 lbs (minimum weight of 30 lbs) and those seeking to avoid the adrenalin rush, check out our scenic half-day family float trip options.

Regardless if you are running the Shoshone rapids or not, you will have a short bus ride up to the put-in location. At the put-in, we will ask for volunteers to help carry down the rafts and gear. While this isn’t required, it certainly helps us get the trip on the water faster. Plus, it provides a great team-building experience 😉

Carrying gear and boats down to the put-in ramp.
Carrying gear and boats down to the put-in ramp.

Rafting the Canyon

With whitewater rafting, you are an active participant; we need you to help us power this boat down these big rapids. Once we get the rafts down the ramp, your guide will do a brief paddle talk, showing you how to properly hold and use a paddle. Then anyone not running the rapids loads back up into the bus and heads down to Grizzly Creek, the next exit below the rapids, where we will pick them up and continue down through the rest of the canyon.

Shoshone Rapids launch for the Glenwood Canyon Half-Day.
Shoshone Rapids launch for the Glenwood Canyon Half-Day.

The next two and a half hours will fly by as you’re rafting the marvelous Glenwood Canyon. Our take-out is located in historic Glenwood Springs. Like the put-in, we’ll ask for those able and willing to assist loading the boats and gear. After that, we hop back on the bus and have a 10-minute ride back to the boathouse.

Hanging out and catching up on a mellow stretch of the Colorado River.
Hanging out and catching up on a mellow stretch of the Colorado River.

After Your Glenwood Springs Whitewater Rafting Trip

When we return to the boathouse, there will be a tub for sanitizing any borrowed booties and your PFD’s and helmets. After that, change, get dry and warm, and check out the pictures. A professional photographer was getting great action shots of your raft during the trip; these will be displayed and available to purchase on kiosks at the boathouse. If you are in a rush to leave, those pictures will also be available online through our PicThrive site.

Feel free to browse our shop. We have lots of logoed and Colorado swag for purchase. Also, talk to your guide about what to do after your adventure, where to hike, where to eat, and the best things to do in Glenwood Springs. We love this valley and would love to share our passion for this area with you.

Tips and gratuities are always appreciated but never expected. Most guides have and use Venmo and similar payment apps if you don’t have any cash. More questions on what to expect on a Glenwood Canyon whitewater rafting trip? Check out our FAQ page for more river trip beta.

Glenwood Canyon Half-Day

Difficulty
Class I–III
Duration
Half-Day
Price
$67
$57 for Happy Paddlers* 12 & under
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Scenic Canyon Float

Difficulty
Class I–II
Duration
Half-Day
Price
$57
$47 for Happy Paddlers* 12 & under
Learn More
book now

Shoshone Rapids Short Trip

Difficulty
Class I–III
Duration
1 Hour
Price
$57
Learn More
book now