Whitewater rafting along the Cache la Poudre River, Colorado's only designated "wild and scenic" river, is an adrenaline rush like no other—a must-do for any adventurer. Fondly known as "the Poudre" by locals, this river flows right through the heart of Fort Collins, earning the city its reputation as a haven for river enthusiasts. The rafting season officially kicks off in mid-May, so seize the opportunity to plan your exhilarating rafting trip today.

While whitewater rafting may seem intimidating, it is actually an adventure suitable for all ages. The key is to prepare yourself for the journey ahead. That's where we come in—to ensure you're ready for the thrill of a lifetime navigating these rapids. Keep reading to learn all the tips and tricks to make your rafting trip an unforgettable experience!


Here is your first timer’s guide to whitewater rafting in Fort Collins…

Choose rapids based on experience

The whitewater rapids are based on a scale from I-VI, with class I being the easiest and class VI being the most extreme. Most outfitters in Fort Collins offer rafting trips ranging from class II-IV. If you’re a beginner, you are going to want to stick to the class II and III rapids. If you’re a little more experienced and looking for a thrill, you will want to give the class IV rapids a go.

Whitewater Rafting

Dress to not impress

This might go without saying, but you will definitely want to wear clothes that can get wet, including water friendly shoes. Most outfitters in Fort Collins will give you the option to wear water proof “booties.” The outfitters will also provide you with a helmet and lifejacket, among other items pertaining to your safety. We wouldn’t recommend wearing hats, jewelry or any loose or valuable items as they may fall off in the river. Generally speaking, if you are fearful of something you own getting lost or wet, just leave that item at home.

The rafting outfitters will also provide you with an option to wear a wet suit, which we recommend if you plan on rafting in the early summer months of May and June. The river water can still be a bit cold in May and early June, with water temperatures hovering around 45° F in mid-May and increasing as the summer months progress.

Don’t let the sun ruin your fun

Fort Collins is 5,003 feet above sea level, which means sunscreen is a must as we are 5,000 feet closer to the sun. We suggest multiple applications of waterproof sunscreen every couple of hours, especially on your face, shoulders, neck and thighs. Remember, the state of Colorado and Fort Collins see over 300 days of sunshine a year, so be prepared for lots of sun and don't get burned!

Whitewater Rafting

Listen to your guide

Paying attention to your guide is key when it comes to whitewater rafting. This is truly a team sport, because everyone must be in sync to make it down the river. Consider your guide both the coach and anchor of your team. Your guide will teach you the basic paddle strokes, safety precautions and commands before you hit the river. Once on the river, all you have to do is respond to your guide’s commands and let the fun ensue!

Memorial Day weekend

Relax and have a blast!

Seriously... this is why you booked your whitewater rafting trip, right?! It’s all about connecting with nature on a thrilling adventure and unplugging from the real world. We promise you won’t be disappointed. Whitewater rafting will be one of the most adrenaline-filled, exciting experiences you will ever have. See you out there on the Poudre!