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Rafting, Kayaking and Canoeing
Rafting, Kayaking and Canoeing

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​White-water rafting, kayaking and canoeing are popular activities on Colorado's rivers. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Safety Gear

  • Always wear a properly-fitted life vest (PFD) designed for white-water river use. 

  • Helmets are recommended for kayakers, canoeists and rafters in class IV or higher white water.

  • Pack ​a first-aid kit, an extra PFD, patch kit, spare oar or paddle, pump, bail bucket if the craft is not a self bailer, a whistle and bow/stern line. It is also a good idea to be prepared with rescue ropes, throw lines, a knife and carabineers.

  • Dress properly for an unexpected cold-water swim and changing weather. Wear pile or fleece rather than cotton. Protect your feet with sturdy footwear that won't come off in the river. Carry extra clothing, food and water.

River Safety Guidelines

  • Never forget the power of the river, and know the section of river you are boating. 

  • Be aware of the limitations of yourself, your party and your equipment.  

  • Watch your surroundings, including the weather. 

  • Boat under control so you can react to river hazards, obstacles and other boats. 

  • Know and be aware of river signs, both natural and man-made, such as holes, wrap rocks, under cuts, rock sieves, horizon lines across the river -- like a low head dam, a significant rapid and "strainers" (trees in the river).

  • Always consider consequences -- you don't want to take an unexpected swim. 

  • Scout rapids.

  • Your skills and experience have to equal the river and its conditions. 

  • Boating alone is unsafe. Two or more people are recommended.

  • Know first aid.

  • Be prepared for self-rescue. It is up to you and everyone in your boat to be able to help. 

View River Runner Etiquette and Responsibilities Brochure.