How to Raft the Colorado River Like a Pro

The ocean may be endless, but a river is boundless. It knows no limitations. It flows where ever it pleases, carving out beautiful canyons, creating isolated islands, and building caves and natural hot springs along the way. And the best way to truly enjoy what a river has to offer is by rafting it.

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The Upper Colorado River flowing through the Little Gore Canyon.

On July 29, 2017, Jake and I had the opportunity to join Megan and Bryce on their 14-foot raft. Together we floated down a little slice of heaven called the Pumphouse Run, between the Pumphouse Campground and State Bridge along the Upper Colorado River. Seven hours, countless rapids, one soothing hot springs, and one cliff jump later, I can honestly say that I appreciate the Colorado River like I never did before.

We arrived at Pumphouse Campground to cloudy skies and the threat of rain at 11 in the morning. Thankfully, Megan was a pro rafter. After preparing the boat, securing life jackets to our persons, and making sure everything else was secured in dry bags, we pushed off the bank and into the current.

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Selfie after our first set of rapids; thank goodness for water proof cameras.

Not an hour later, Bryce docked us along the side of the canyon and Megan guided us to a natural hot springs and cliff jumping spot. The little pool of warm water was packed full of friendly faces willingly to make room. Unlike the hot springs resorts we were used to, this hot springs was not only free but also provided a view of cliff jumpers.

As someone who is deathly afraid of heights, I am still surprised that I took the plunge off a 30-foot cliff. But I am happy I did because it was one of the most exhilarating feelings I have ever felt. The rush of water enveloping every inch of my body was overwhelming and welcoming all at once—like a hug from a long-time friend.

Post jump we climbed back into the boat and decided that the best way to get over the cold was to put on our drunk jackets. We continued to float down the river under the clouds—sipping beer and occasionally diving into the water to swim alongside the boat. And while there is nothing quite like the ocean at sunset, similarly, there is nothing quite like the Colorado River on a cloudy summer day.

Sipping beers while floating down the river
Sipping beers while floating down the river, featuring a Grapefruit Shandy for me and Goose Island IPA for Jake.
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View along the Colorado River.

Until next time,

Leah Pinkus

 

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