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Rafting Down the Colorado River

Colorado Whitewater Rafting

The Colorado River headwaters begin in Rocky Mountain National Park in northwest Colorado, about 55 miles from Kremmling. From the trickle of snow melt starting in the Never Summer Range to the Colorado River Delta near the Gulf of California, the Colorado River runs about 1,450 miles. Rafting down the Colorado River can be a true delight!

Colorado River Rafting
Colorado River Rafting

We recently had the opportunity to float on the Colorado River from Rancho del Rio down to Two Bridges. Let me tell you, Eagle County Open Space has been busy buying up open space and boat launches along the Colorado River the last few years – and it’s really starting to pay off!

My buddy lives in the Town of Eagle, and I finally took him up on his offer to take me down the river. This is an incredibly mellow stretch. However, you still have to respect the water.

We started out from Rancho del Rio. Rancho is a private site that features a small store with some groceries, equipment and vehicle storage, toilets, dressing rooms, parking and a large beach-like stretch of river bank. Cabins, camping, picnic sites, parking and launching area are available for a fee. The site is somewhat of a hippy-adorned madhouse (and I mean that in a good way). It has a certain charm that’s hard to find anywhere else.

Hula Hooping at Rancho del Rio
Hula Hooping at Rancho del Rio

After we loaded the cooler with a few coldies and strapped on our lifejackets, we began our leisurely float down the Red River. It’s truly a river of legends. There is no greater legend than John Wesley Powell. While he didn’t journey down this exact route (he started on the Green out of Wyoming on his first expedition down the Colorado), I could still imagine his sense of adventure and bewilderment.

But we did follow the route of another pioneering force: the Central Corridor railroad line that is currently owned and operated by the historic Union Pacific Railroad. My friend, somewhat of an armchair historian, taught me on our trip that all of the Central Corridor was actually built by former competitors to the Union Pacific. It is an engineering marvel – especially the portions that charge through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Union Pacific
Union Pacific

It was a perfect day for a float. We caught bluebird skies and plenty of golden rays. We sang a little John Denver, while light mists occasionally splashed up from the minor rapids we encountered.

Before we knew it, we were pulling out at the Two Bridges River Access. The excitement of being on the river made the whole experience fly by way too quick. Many thanks to Eagle County Open Space for providing the public boat launch, ample parking, and toilets at Two Bridges. We’ll have to catch a show at State Bridge – a music venue of growing renown – next time we’re in the area.

Josh T

Josh is a native son and big fan of pack burro racing. He thru-hiked the Colorado Trail, loves running and biking, and is passionate about sharing his favorite journeys and experiences with others. You can typically find Josh out exploring the less beaten paths under Colorado’s sunny skies.

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