Frequently Asked Questions

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Do you have essential eligibility requirements?

Rafting, like other adventure activities, is inherently dangerous. By participating in Journey Quest’s activities, our guests will be assuming those risks. As such, all participants will be required to sign a release of liability before undertaking any activity with Journey Quest.

Our essential eligibility requirements are listed below:

  1. Must be able to fit into a Journey Quest PFD (life jacket). These are adjustable up to chest size 56 in.
  2. Minimum ages vary by activity and current water levels. Children must be at least 3 years old for the Family Float Trip and 6 years old for Bighorn Sheep Canyon Trips.
  3. Royal Gorge Participants must be 14 years old at low or moderate water flows, 18 at high water flows. Those between 14 and 17 must also have a parent or adult sponsor with them on the trip. This is a serious section of river and is not suitable for beginners. Previous class III or higher paddling experience and strong swimming ability are recommended for all guests. For the safety of our guides and guests, we cannot take guests who are over 250lbs, individuals with a history of heart problems, or those who are poor swimmers or unable to swim.
  4. For any trip, participants with medical conditions should consult with their doctor prior to rafting. Any medical needs should be disclosed prior to trip departure.
  5. Participants must be able to manage all personal care and mobility independently or with the assistance of a companion who accompanies them.
  6. Participants must be able to reach the boat launch area alone or with the assistance of a companion who accompanies them.
  7. Participants must be able to enter and exit the raft independently or with the assistance of a companion.
  8. Participants must be able to follow instructions and perform all water activities independently or with the assistance of a companion who accompanies them.
  9. Participants must be able to remain seated and balanced independently or with the use of adaptive equipment, providing that the equipment does not create a safety hazard.
  10. Participants must be comfortable with water and be prepared to float on their back through rapids or swim aggressively to the boat or shore in order to self-rescue.
  11. For overnight trips, participants must have mobility about the campsite independently or with the assistance of a companion.
  12. Participants must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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What should we wear?

We recommend that you wear clothes that dry quickly; fleece, polypro, or wool may be better for cooler weather. Shorts are ok, and tennis shoes or even river sandals will be fine for the trip. We have wet suits, river booties, and splash jackets for rent, but you should bring a change of clothes and perhaps a light jacket. And as with any Colorado expedition, don’t forget sunglasses (with a good strap), sunscreen, and insect repellent!

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Which trip should we take?

If you are in a hurry and want to get on and off the river first thing in the morning, then the 1/4 day Splash ‘n Dash may suit your needs. This trip starts from our site and continues five miles down river. There are four rapids on this section that will provide a taste of the Arkansas River at an affordable price.

1/2 Day Bighorn Canyon trip is our most popular trip and it covers 9-14 miles (depending on water levels). When water levels are moderate or high we’re able to start many of these trips from our from our Texas Creek office, which gives you 5 more miles and as several more fun rapids than any other outfitter is able to offer.

Our Full-Day Adventure in Bighorn Sheep Canyon moves at a more relaxed pace. We meet a little later in the morning and spend the whole day on the river. In addition to the river-side lunch that is provided, we typically have the time to stop and look at things, swim, play games, etc. This is a great trip for small groups and families alike.

If you have been rafting before and are looking for something a little more challenging, consider the 1/2 Day Adrenaline or Full-Day Adventure in the Royal Gorge. We think this is the best trip on the Arkansas River! The full day Royal Gorge trip starts in Bighorn in the morning then, after a lunch stop, continues down the Royal Gorge. This is an excellent trip for those who love adventure!

Space on these trips is limited, so we strongly recommend that you make advance reservations.

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When is the best time of year to go rafting?

There really is no best time of year for whitewater rafting. However, different water levels can create a very different experience. Water levels typically begin to rise when the snow begins to melt at the end of May, with the season peak occurring in June. July is typically moderate and warmer. August is warm but the water is usually lower. The unit of measure used to determine water levels is cubic feet per second (cfs). The following descriptions apply to levels measured at the Parkdale Gauge during the course of an average year.

High water: > 2500 cfs: This is the level for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. Based on the snow melt, this may only last for a couple of weeks in June. The water is cold and raging, and the weather may be cold as well. Huge waves and holes are created and the boats can become completely engulfed in water as they go through most rapids. It is not uncommon for boats to flip or for crew members to get washed overboard if they do not hold on. If you are deathly afraid of water, let us know and we may be able to modify the trip to an easier section of river.

Medium water: 1000-2500 cfs: At moderate flows, the whitewater action is still exciting, but since most of the rocks are covered, it makes navigation easier and reduces the likelihood of injuries associated with a flip or swim. Typically medium flows start at the end of May and first part of June. During July, things typically warm up and good flows generally continue through the month.

Low water: 300-1000 cfs: Nature lovers will enjoy this water level. Typically found at the beginning and at the end of the season, low water is a time to relax, enjoy the scenery, fish, and simply fall in love with the river. Rock gardens appear at extremely low water, making things very interesting when trying to get through. It is not uncommon to bounce off a few rocks along the way. While generally less intimidating, you can still get bruised if you fall overboard.

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I’ve never been rafting before; is it safe?

Although there is risk involved in all outdoor adventure activities, Journey Quest considers safety a top priority and has taken many precautions to ensure guests have the highest quality experience possible. While we can not absolutely guarantee an incident-free trip, rafting with us is probably safer than driving your car to our site.

Before each raft trip, our guides review a number of safety procedures with all guests and also reinforce these guidelines throughout the trip. In addition, our guides have expert knowledge of each section of river we run, resulting in very few surprises.

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I have younger children; will they be able to join us?

Sometimes half the fun is just watching your child or grandchild’s face! For families with younger children, we recommend our Family Float trip which is available for children 3 and older. Our Bighorn Canyon trips have a minimum age of 6 at normal or mid water levels and 10 at high water.

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Do I need to make advance reservations?

We welcome walk-in guests on a space-available basis. If you want to have a space on a specific trip, we would recommend making advance reservations. You can also receive an early booking discount by booking your trip prior to May 1.

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How is the Arkansas River regulated?

River outfitting in Colorado is a highly regulated and professional industry. In order to take a commercial passenger river rafting in Colorado, the provider of the service, the “river outfitter,” must be licensed by the State of Colorado. In addition to holding a license issued by the Colorado Division of Parks and Recreation, a river outfitter operating on the Arkansas must obtain a special use agreement through the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. AHRA monitors usage of each section of the upper Arkansas and administrates a rationing system when certain capacities are reached. Once a particular day is rationed, each outfitter is allocated a limited number of boats that they can use for that section. AHRA also monitors compliance to safety regulations that all outfitters are required to adhere to.

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If we enjoyed the trip, may we tip our guide?

As as long as it’s not out of the raft!

Tips are not expected; however, they are always appreciated when we have exceeded your expectations.

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Can we request a specific guide?

Yes, if the guide you are requesting is available we will assign them to your trip.

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What else is there to do in the area?

There are three websites that will provide you with many options (Clicking on these links will open a new browser window):

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