Rafting Basics

Clear Creek, starting at the Continental Divide on Loveland Pass, is one of the most exciting rafting locations in Colorado. It is the closest rafting destination to Denver, only 37 miles from downtown and you will be at our base in Dumont, Colorado. Clear Creek offers an exciting experience for everyone. It can be a fun family float or an adrenaline pumped, fast paced, whitewater bonanza. A fast and technical style run, Clear Creek offers more rapids per mile than nearly any other run in the country. Some of the more difficult sections boasting rapids that last for miles. First timers and veteran boaters, alike, will be challenged and thrilled by the swift flowing snowmelt of Clear Creek Canyon.

We would love to help you determine which trip is best suited for your group. Call us and speak personally with one of our very experienced guides. We can give you the details of what to expect from each section of whitewater in order to provide you the adventure of a lifetime.

Clear Creek Provides rafting at flows from 150 cubic feet per second and higher.

Rapid Classifications

  1. Easy - Fast Moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.
  2. Novice - Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily avoided by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated II+.
  3. Intermediate - Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated class III- or III+ respectively.
  4. Advanced - Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. a fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scut rapids, or rest. Rapids may require “must make” moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. For kayakers, a strong roll is highly recommended. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated class IV- or class IV+ respectively.
  5. Expert - Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is recommended but may be difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts. Proper equipment extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential.
    Because of the large range of difficulty that exists beyond class IV, class V is open ended, multiple-level scale designated by class 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc. Each of these levels is an order of magnitude more difficult than the last. That is, going from class 5.0 to 5.1 is a similar order of magnitude as increasing from a class IV to 5.0.
  6. Extreme and Exploratory Rapids - Runs of this classification are rarely attempted and often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability, and danger. The consequences of errors are severe and rescue may be impossible. For teams of experts only, at favorable water levels, after close personal inspection and taking all precaution. After a class VI rapid has been run many times, its rating may be changed to an appropriate class 5.x rating.

You should bring the following:

  • Due to industry standard insurance mandates, we must require that you use our personal flotation devices (P.F.D.) on all commercial trips. However, if you have any other whitewater gear or clothing, feel free to bring it along.
  • Layers; synthetic fleece and wool. Cotton does not retain heat when wet and is not recommended. Tops, Bottoms, Socks and anything else warm(not cotton) come in handy during early season and on rainy days.
  • Shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. No crocs of any kind or flip flops, sandals must have a heel strap. You will want your footwear to stay on in the event of a swim. Wool, fleece, or neoprene socks will help keep you warm on chilly days.
  • Dry clothes and towels for after the trip.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses (you will want a strap, we sell them in our store), and hats. Baseball caps may be worn under the helmets.
  • Clear Creek has a thirst for valuables. Jewelry, phones, cameras and various other expensive trinkets are resting in its depths even now. Items like this should not go rafting, unless you are willing to accept the risk of dropping it in the water.

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