Rafting & Kayaking

Each spring, snowmelt from the surrounding mountains brings increased water flow to our local rivers, lakes, and reservoirs along with adventure opportunities for rafters and kayakers alike.

There is no better way to experience the run-off than boating down the river! The Gunnison Gorge offers one of the most remote and unique rafting and kayaking experiences in the nation, complete with wilderness camping and your chance to reel in chunky trout in Gold Medal waters.

For a water adventure closer to civilization, enjoy the Water Sports Park located right in the heart of Montrose.

Although rafting rivers is fun, it is also an activity that requires a high level of experience in order to safely maneuver a boat through any whitewater situation. Before you go, make sure your leader is properly versed and equipped for a variety of whitewater situations. Better yet, take advantage of utilizing local knowledge and certified trained professionals with a local rafting company offering guided trips.

Please ensure your vessel has been thoroughly cleaned/decontaminated before launching it in water. Unseen hitchhikers may be traveling on your vessel and have the potential to ruin our water sources.

Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area

Most popular rafting trips in the region

Gunnison River Gorge

The ideal way to see the Gunnison Gorge is from the inside! A true wilderness experience, this 14-mile river section combines incredible wildlife and scenery with class III-IV whitewater through one of the most spectacular canyons in Colorado. The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness, located nine miles northeast of Montrose and just downstream from the Black Canyon National Park, offers a wild and pristine backcountry experience. The gorge is famous for its world-class fishing, geology, and wildlife, but sees moderate use because of its remote location and challenging access.

Uncompahgre River

The Uncompahgre River between the town of Ridgway and the Ridgway Reservoir (Class II to III+ rapids) is a great introductory rafting section with wonderful wildlife and scenery opportunities. The majestic San Juan Mountains provide the backdrop for the entire run. Float through prime wildlife habitat for an up-close look at songbirds, deer, and birds of prey. Narrow canyon sections of the Uncompahgre River provide a unique and remote experience for paddlers and a unique opportunity to get off the beaten path. A fantastic run on over 15 miles of remote access on the lower Uncompahgre River is also available, with excellent water flows maintained throughout the summer. Access on this mostly private section of river is extremely limited, with no defined take-out location.

Lower Gunnison River

Named for the Spanish Jesuits that first explored the area in 1777, the Dominguez and Escalante Canyons are rich in history, wildlife, and scenery. The class II Gunnison River gently carves its way through Dominguez canyon creating a wilderness feeling. Cottonwood stands along the river provide nesting habitat for herons and songbirds, while deer, desert bighorn sheep, and large game can be seen along the banks. Native American rock-art and spectacular desert flora and fauna can be found on numerous side-hikes, making for a rich experience on the edge of canyon country; great for both rafts and kayaks.

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San Miguel River

The San Miguel drops over 7000 feet from an alpine ecosystem to the desert. The San Miguel offers the whitewater boater a variety of runs within the class III-IV range. The river’s consistent gradient and continuous character provides the boater with an abundance of whitewater. Due to spring flooding, the river contains numerous strainers and downed wood, though most are easily spotted; use caution. The San Miguel should be easily navigated by the intermediate whitewater boater. However, the San Miguel’s class II-III rating can be deceptive. This river is continuous, shallow, and contains a fair amount of downed wood – the consequences can be more significant than the rating would suggest.

Don’t forget to contact your local rafting outfitter to receive the most up-to-date information on conditions, access, gear, and guided trips.

Gunnison Gorge NCA River sup

beginner stand up paddle river trip

Difficulty: Beginner

Requirements:

Stand Up Paddle Board – Age 10+. Must be able to stand or kneel for 2 hours

Kayak – Ages 10+ for solo kayak, 6+ to ride in a tandem kayak

Included: Guide, instruction, transportation, all equipment, no added rental fees.

Options: Join the trip on a stand up paddle board, inflatable Kayak or guided raft

Season: May-October

ultimate colorado river sup experience

Just outside the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area is the ideal Colorado destination to learn the art of river SUP, discover a scenic rafting journey, or enjoy a family kayak adventure. Take in warm Colorado sunshine, crystal clear water, and breathtaking scenery as you float through the most inviting river canyon in Colorado.

On this tour, we paddle through calm water, deep canyons and beginner level river features. These picturesque canyons are home to great blue heron, big horned sheep, deer, elk, and bald eagles. Along the way we will watch native trout swim right underneath us in these gold medal fishing waters. From start to finish we will be immersed in continuous views of red, yellow and orange canyon walls, the West Elk Wilderness and the Grand Mesa.

Stand up paddle

For stand up paddle boarders, this scenic river tour begins with instruction. Before launching you will spend 30 minutes with our professional instructors both on land and in the water learning basic SUP and river running skills. Once you are confident on your board, your instructor will guide you through a nature-made, desert water park, which has become the top-rated stand up paddle tour in Colorado.

Unlike most rivers in Colorado, the Gunnison Gorge NCA is especially suited to stand up paddle boarding. The river is calm enough for beginners to get their bearings, warm enough to enjoy a dip, and exciting enough for adventurers of all ages. The small waves, and beginner level river features along the way can be enjoyed standing, kneeling or sitting on your paddle board. By the end of your tour, everyone in your group will have the opportunity, and ability, to stand up through these small features. There is not another river in Colorado like the Gunnison Gorge NCA.

Kayak

Single, or tandem kayaks are a great way to explore the Gunnison Gorge NCA. Our stable inflatable river kayaks are easy to master. After a little instruction you will be confidently splashing through the gentle waves of the Gunnison River. This kayak tour is appropriate for beginners of all ages.

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Raft

For the ultimate relaxing day on the river book your tour in a guided raft, the perfect option for families. See Scenic Float option to book.

Half Day:

All the instruction, plus 5 miles of down-river fun. We break half way for snacks and a delicious local beverage. A complete river SUP, kayak or raft experience, that leaves plenty of time in the day to visit the vineyards and orchards of the North Fork Valley.

Duration: 4 hours (Including shuttle, instruction and tour)

Length: 6 miles

Included: Snack and beverage

Meet Times: 9:00 am

Half Day Rates: $97 adults, $94 age 12 + under

3/4 Day:

Our half day trip plus lunch, and a hike to Eagle Rock Shelter, at 13,000 years old, this is the oldest archaeological site in Colorado!

Duration: 5 hours (including shuttle, instruction and tour)

Length: 6 miles

Included: locally sourced river side lunch

Visit: ancient petroglyphs

Meet Time: 10:00 am

3/4 Day Rates: $119 adults, $114 age 12 + under

Full Day:

Spend the whole day immersed in nature on our full day trip. Explore the petroglyphs and ancient dwelling of Eagle Rock Shelter. Includes a river side lunch featuring ingredients from local North Fork Valley farms and orchards, plus four extra miles of down-river fun!

Duration: 7 hours (including shuttle, instruction and tour)

Length: 10 miles

Included: locally sourced river side lunch

Visit: ancient petroglyphs

Meet Time: 9:00 am

Full Day Rates: $129 adults, $124 age 12 + under

“This was the first time my wife and I had paddled on moving water, and we went from wobbly-legs to splashing through class-II rapids during our tour. The river is a mix of steady flowing water punctuated by small rapids. The rapids never felt dangerous, and you can always drop to your knees if it gets too intimidating. Or just fall off! The water was the perfect temperature on a 84˚ day! One of the highlights is a stop to go see the oldest archeological dig in Colorado.

Western Slope SUP was one of the friendliest, cleaners outfitters I’ve seen. They have excellently maintained boards and equipment, and their staff is very knowledgeable and courteous. It’s also very reasonably priced to boot! This is a new shop, and so it won’t remain a hidden gem for long! Go book now!”

The Sepps, Trip Advisor

related activities

Kayak-Gunnison-Gorge-near-Grand-Junction.jpg

kayak trips near the black canyon

Soak up warm Colorado sunshine while splashing through the scenic canyons and clear, cool waters of the Gunnison Gorge NCA. Perfect for beginners or experienced river runners.

Gunnison River raft tour in the North Fork Valley, Colorado, near Grand Junction.jpg

Gunnison Gorge nca rafting

Family rafting does not get better than this. Float the scenic canyons of the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, swim in its crystal clear waters, and splash through beginner class I/II whitewater rapids.

Rafting & Kayaking

Each spring, snowmelt from the surrounding mountains brings increased water flow to our local rivers, lakes, and reservoirs along with adventure opportunities for rafters and kayakers alike.

There is no better way to experience the run-off than boating down the river! The Gunnison Gorge offers one of the most remote and unique rafting and kayaking experiences in the nation, complete with wilderness camping and your chance to reel in chunky trout in Gold Medal waters.

For a water adventure closer to civilization, enjoy the Water Sports Park located right in the heart of Montrose.

Although rafting rivers is fun, it is also an activity that requires a high level of experience in order to safely maneuver a boat through any whitewater situation. Before you go, make sure your leader is properly versed and equipped for a variety of whitewater situations. Better yet, take advantage of utilizing local knowledge and certified trained professionals with a local rafting company offering guided trips.

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Please ensure your vessel has been thoroughly cleaned/decontaminated before launching it in water. Unseen hitchhikers may be traveling on your vessel and have the potential to ruin our water sources.

Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area

Most popular rafting trips in the region

Gunnison River Gorge

The ideal way to see the Gunnison Gorge is from the inside! A true wilderness experience, this 14-mile river section combines incredible wildlife and scenery with class III-IV whitewater through one of the most spectacular canyons in Colorado. The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness, located nine miles northeast of Montrose and just downstream from the Black Canyon National Park, offers a wild and pristine backcountry experience. The gorge is famous for its world-class fishing, geology, and wildlife, but sees moderate use because of its remote location and challenging access.

Uncompahgre River

The Uncompahgre River between the town of Ridgway and the Ridgway Reservoir (Class II to III+ rapids) is a great introductory rafting section with wonderful wildlife and scenery opportunities. The majestic San Juan Mountains provide the backdrop for the entire run. Float through prime wildlife habitat for an up-close look at songbirds, deer, and birds of prey. Narrow canyon sections of the Uncompahgre River provide a unique and remote experience for paddlers and a unique opportunity to get off the beaten path. A fantastic run on over 15 miles of remote access on the lower Uncompahgre River is also available, with excellent water flows maintained throughout the summer. Access on this mostly private section of river is extremely limited, with no defined take-out location.

Lower Gunnison River

Named for the Spanish Jesuits that first explored the area in 1777, the Dominguez and Escalante Canyons are rich in history, wildlife, and scenery. The class II Gunnison River gently carves its way through Dominguez canyon creating a wilderness feeling. Cottonwood stands along the river provide nesting habitat for herons and songbirds, while deer, desert bighorn sheep, and large game can be seen along the banks. Native American rock-art and spectacular desert flora and fauna can be found on numerous side-hikes, making for a rich experience on the edge of canyon country; great for both rafts and kayaks.

San Miguel River

The San Miguel drops over 7000 feet from an alpine ecosystem to the desert. The San Miguel offers the whitewater boater a variety of runs within the class III-IV range. The river’s consistent gradient and continuous character provides the boater with an abundance of whitewater. Due to spring flooding, the river contains numerous strainers and downed wood, though most are easily spotted; use caution. The San Miguel should be easily navigated by the intermediate whitewater boater. However, the San Miguel’s class II-III rating can be deceptive. This river is continuous, shallow, and contains a fair amount of downed wood – the consequences can be more significant than the rating would suggest.

Don’t forget to contact your local rafting outfitter to receive the most up-to-date information on conditions, access, gear, and guided trips.

Source https://www.visitmontrose.com/outdoors/activities/river-rafting-kayaking/

Source https://www.westernslopesup.com/stand-up-paddle-board/river-trips

Source https://www.visitmontrose.com/outdoors/activities/river-rafting-kayaking/

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