The Differences in Rafting on 2 Rivers


By Jessica Power

5 Big Differences Between Rafting the Clear Creek and Upper Colorado River

Now that Clear Creek River has run its course, we’re moving up north to the Upper Colorado River. The 2 rafting experiences couldn’t be more different. Here are some of the main distinctions between them:

1. A Longer Trip

The point on Clear Creek River where we raft is located about 10 minutes away by van, making it convenient, but also a shorter rafting experience in general. The Upper Colorado River is about 1 hour and 30 minutes away, driving through incredible mountain landscapes, historic towns, and some incredible views of the Colorado wilderness. Because it’s a longer rafting trip, lunch is included at the end.

Upper Colorado Rafting Trip

2. Scenic Surroundings

The most noticeable difference between Clear Creek and Upper Colorado was the environment. Clear Creek is located near the highway and you go under bridges and behind the town of Idaho Springs. There are moments when you are more “off the beaten path” in nature, but in general the town is around. At the Upper Colorado River there is no town nearby and you wind your way through a canyon and at one point a bald eagle flew overhead. You’re far more IN nature.

Abandoned Cabin

3. The Pace

There is no better or worse scenario for this difference in the pace -only the interest of the individual or group. Clear Creek was faster and had more rapids, but there was also a good balance between the splashes and the moments of minimal paddling and floating along. The Upper Colorado rafting involved no paddling (the guide did all the work) and ample amount of time to take pictures and enjoy the surrounding woods and wildlife. It was a slower, more leisurely pace.

Rafting Down the River

4. Work & Team Effort

With Clear Creek rafting, you have to paddle as a team -which can be hard if you’ve never coordinated with the members of the group in that way. The guide still did the bulk of the work, but there was more physical effort put in to working your way down the river. No time to take out the camera and snap some pictures. The Upper Colorado involved no physical effort other than staying in the boat.

Upper Colorado River View

5. Time for a Swim

You can’t swim down Clear Creek or get out of the boat. It’s too dangerous. The Upper Colorado River has spots where there are diving rocks and places to swim. Whether you’ll be brave enough to take the splash off a diving rock depends on your fear of heights. It was fun watching a father and his two kids face their fears and jump (after some encouragement from other rafters passing by).

Dive from the Rocks

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