Emily Marquis, Author at Arkansas River Tours

5 Family-Friendly Activities to Tack onto Arkansas River Rafting Trip

They say people come to Colorado for the scenery and stay for the experience. Do both and enjoy some of these suggested adventures before your rafting trip with us! These local favorites are all located within easy driving distance and can be catered to fit your timeline, budget, and personal ambitions. Come experience all that Colorado has to offer!

1. The West’s Skyline Scenic Drive

image collage of Colorado's Scenic Skyline Drive near Canon City Colorado. Stop in for rafting at the end with Arkansas River tours.

For an adventure in the car, jeep, bike or motorcycle; soak in some amazing views and history by driving the scenic Skyline Drive. Along the historical drive, you will panoramic views of the area including mountains and Canon City. There are several pull-offs for picture taking and rock inspecting where many have found dinosaur fossils. It’s a good way to escape the midday heat and enjoy the twists and turns of this ridge with the entrance located directly behind our office.

2. Check Out Captain Zipline

Zipline park in Salida Colorado. Experience Colorado White Water Rafting and Zipline with Arkansas River Tours package deals.

Enjoy a different view of the mountains and canyons while suspended in mid-air, Captain Zipline is a must for all levels. A local’s favorite for ziplining and adventure rope course. They will drive you to the start of the courses and there is casual walking in the mountains. Learn the history of the area, challenge yourself, get an adrenaline rush and see the world from a bird’s eye view.

3. The Sangre De Cristo Wilderness

Looking for the best places to hike in the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness? Check out Zapata Lake. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Spanish for the “Blood of Christ”, this wilderness area offers awesome views and diverse geography across 219,776 acres. There are several activities to be had through various means, but one of our favorites is the Twin Peaks hike. You can summit the 13,580’ peak while passing several waterfalls and enjoy breathtaking views of the entire valley; or stop and have a picnic at South Zapata Lake.

4. Visit Lake Pueblo State Park

Lake Pueblo State Park in colorado. Image from the state park website.

Known for as a hot spot for fishing, but also enjoyed for various activities such as motor-boating, waterskiing, and river tubing with two marinas. There are miles of trails for biking, hiking and picnicking under the shady trees of the river. Enjoy the water and Colorado vistas! You’ll meet locals and visitors from afar.

5. Mountain Trail Riding with Play Dirty ATV

Looking for something to do near canon city, pueblo, or cotopaxi? Check out this ATV and Jeep tour with Play Dirty. After you get dirty come rinse off at Arkansas River Tours on a raft trip.

After an exciting rafting experience, get back on land and experience the depths of the beauty of the wilderness by ATV or side-by-side which can take you farther faster. Go over fun twists, turns and obstacles or just sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s fun for all levels where you’ll also learn about the area from a great local guide.


The public lands we love and enjoy have been in the crossfire more in the past year than ever before. Just months ago, bill HR 621 was proposed by Utah Congressman Chaffetz, whose mission it was to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands. This land, which belongs to citizens of our country, would have been privatized for mining or drilling purposes, reducing the footprint of what is ours and turning protected land into pilfered land. 

Thankfully, the people spoke out, and bill HR 621 was killed in January.

But this just highlights the current danger faced by our public lands and the need to pay attention to that danger — and how important it is for us to get outdoors. If you love outdoor recreation and our public spaces, getting outside means spending time with what you love. It means reconnecting with the beauty that makes America great. It means taking advantage of what is ours — and leaving it better for the next generation.

Outdoor time puts into perspective what some lawmakers have become blind to: America is more than just a GDP. America is acre after acre of pristine — and protected — land. The moment we stop protecting it is the moment we stop respecting what makes this country great.

By spending time outdoors, we are affirming the existence and protection of our spaces. We are supporting the ethical use of these lands, and encouraging outdoor recreation to continue.

How to spend more time in the outdoors this season

If you’re finding it hard to actually get outside, you’re not alone. There seems to be a growing sentiment among outdoor-loving people that the next thing they do outside needs to bigger, better, longer than the last. The weekend warrior endeavors to spend her entire weekend from sunup on Saturday to sundown on Sunday on the perfectly planned trip.

But she would be just as happy — and would likely get out a lot more — with micro trips: several hours planned in advance or spontaneously embraced, with nothing to do but explore. Put time on your calendar this weekend for a micro trip. Go for 4 hours, spend time outside, and don’t plan too much. Just go! And don’t put too much pressure on yourself to spend every waking hour outside. Setting the precedent of a 4-hour tour lets you relax, have fun, and come back to society refreshed and appreciative.

Make your voice heard and stay in the loop

There is a great set of outdoor enthusiasts who is using their full force to let our leaders know just how much we value our public lands. Perhaps the most prominent is the Keep it Public movement. Keep it Public is a coalition of thought leaders and outdoor enthusiasts united in the name of public lands. If this rings true with you, you can follow along and participate with the coalition through their website. 

At the same time, brands have come to the fore as some of the most committed members of the Keep it Public movement. For instance, Patagonia has been instrumental in publicizing and creating actionable plans around protecting Bears Ears, a section of Utah’s vast wilderness that came in lawmakers’ crosshairs over the last few years. They have gone so far as to create a multimedia experience of Bears Ears, which you can see here

We are united by the outdoors. United in good times and in bad.

And the more time we spend outdoors, the more united we are in its magnificence and protection.

Mother’s day is a day to put aside our routines and celebrate the women who’ve made us who we are today. It’s a tribute to moms everywhere and individually, and this year we want to raise a cold cup of whitewater to the badass ladies who make our world a better place.

As a form of celebration, we want to share empowering, inspiring, celebratory initiatives from other communities and from our own.

Women are a Force of Nature

REI’s Force of Nature campaign is a great example. It celebrates women for what they are: a force of nature, rather than stifling their strength behind pressures to conform or fit in a confined role.

The Future of Adventure is Female

Similarly empowering is Outside Magazine’s women’s issue, which does an excellent job of stimulating discussion around women’s issues, focusing on lady leaders in the adventure and outdoor sports world, and making it clear that “The Future of Adventure is Female.”

Read the exclusive articles from the women’s issue here

To our own lady tribe:

And of course, we want to celebrate the women close to home who inspire us to be better versions of ourself every day.

To our own mothers, we love you. The best role models are the ones who’ve been around since day 1.

To the women in our community, we appreciate you every day.

And to the ladies who will join us on the river this season, from veteran rafters and anglers to first-timers alike. We couldn’t be more excited for you to join us on the journey.

We hope this mother’s day can be a celebration of women across our communities and also the woman who brought us into the world. Here’s to our moms, and here’s to a future full of support and strength!

The thrill of a day on whitewater is only rivaled by the experience of fly fishing its rich depths. That’s why we offer two types of trips: rafting and fishing. Together, they’re the best way to experience a river, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer both types of trips along the Arkansas. The Arkansas River provides some of the best fly fishing in Colorado.

Where To Go Fly Fishing In Colorado

Whatever your ideal fly fishing trip looks like, we offer it. From float fishing trips to overnight fishing trips to half-wading and half-floating to 3-day wilderness trips, our range of offerings lets you experience the best the Arkansas river has to offer.  The best fly fishing in Colorado is with Arkansas River Tours.

If you want to catch Brown and Rainbow Trout on a fly rod, the Arkansas is the river for you.

We service Bighorn Sheep Canyon, Browns Canyon, and Gunnison Gorge.

Bighorn Sheep Canyon is a great option for families and individuals alike, with mellow sections of whitewater and an abundance of fish for every line in your party. Stay overnight to experience both day and night on this incredible section of the Arkansas.

Fly Fishing Float Trips Colorado

Browns Canyon is actually a new national monument as of 2015. The national monument has over 20,000 acres of protected land and some of the best fishing around.

Gunnison Gorge Float Trips

Gunnison Gorge is not only a beautiful landscape, it’s also the perfect place for a wilderness excursion. We hike a mile down into the canyon to reach our put-in, then embark on a 14-mile two-day canyon adventure in one of Colorado’s best Gold Medal fisheries. Read more here.

Fly Fishing Arkansas River

In addition to our options for type of trip, we also offer a range of options for timing on fly fishing float trips in Colorado.

Half-day, full day, after 5 PM or on a 3-day overnight trip, we have you covered.

How To Book Fly Fishing Trips

If you want to experience the thrill of the cast and catch in Colorado’s best fisheries, book your trip or get in touch with us to find the best trip for you!


Our River Manager at Arkansas River Tours, Julie Sutton, is an incredible steward of whitewater and rafting experiences alike.

As a guide, she’s been with us for over 12 years, and before that she spent 7 seasons guiding on the Gauley River in West Virginia.

If there’s one person who knows incredible, transformative river rafting experiences, it’s Julie Sutton. 

She also competes internationally. She served as Team Captain of the USA Women’s Raft Racing Team, a team that took 9th in the world while competing in Indonesia.

Beyond her accolades and many years of expertise, she’s a joy to be around and a paragon of river leadership. She’s an example for all of us to pursue what we love with full force and a fierce paddle. 

Here’s to you, Julie, and here’s to more years of big whitewater and even bigger smiles!


Spring is always an exciting time.

Snow melts, rivers rush, and rafters come out in droves to get the best of Colorado’s rivers. 

This spring is looking as good as ever for rafting, and we couldn’t be more excited to get the season underway. 

But it’s exciting for another reason as well…

Arkansas River Tours is expanding our messaging

In years past, we’ve been a straightforward rafting company. Do you want to raft? Cool, call us up and book a trip.

We’re still a straightforward rafting company, but we’re expanding our brand to be more vocally inclusive of those who may feel left out of regular rafting discussion. Specifically, we’re championing rafting for kids, rafting for seniors, badass rafting ladies, handicapped adventurers, and rafting for all.

It’s simple to have boats and help people down the river. 

We don’t want to be simple. We want to accomplish the more complex mission of speaking to those who want to raft but feel like they haven’t had the chance in the past–or may not have felt like they were wanted in the boat, for whatever reason. That’s one of the reasons we partnered with Craig Hospital to bring our rafting and camping adventures to handicapped thrill seekers.

Because everyone deserves to experience the joys of whitewater. It’s not just for straight white dudes. 

As part of this change, we’re going to be posting here on our blog about inclusive rafting and what that means. One day we’ll highlight the top women of rafting, the next we’ll showcase a Class V ripper, and after we’ll talk about how you can take your aging parents on the river for an experience of a lifetime. 

We couldn’t be more excited to expand our strategic vision, and we hope you’ll join us for the ride. Because it’s always more fun when everyone’s involved.

So grab a paddle, share this post, book a trip, and raft on.

–Emily Marquis, Owner, Arkansas River tours

Written by Travis White

If your particular disability involves a visual impairment, you may think that your physical activity is limited to walking, stationary biking, and weights. Of course, it’s hard to stay motivated to be active if you feel limited, and if you think that your only options for physical activity are boring and uninspired. The good news is that you’re only limited by what you set as your limits. Those with visual impairments can experience many of the same sporting and fitness activities as those with full sight. Here are some tips to get you started.

Make use of a guide (human)

Running, whether on a track, trail, or around the neighborhood, is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to stay healthy and active for those with full sight. For those with a visual impairment, however, it’s not always that easy. But if you employ the expertise of a guide runner, the places you can run are pretty much limitless.

The United States Association of Blind Athletes is a great resource for human-guided assistance:

“The guide runner and blind athlete run in unison with a foot long tether held firmly in the fingers of the guide and athlete. Tethers can be as simple as a shoe string or made of other materials such as leather. The purpose of the tether is to allow freedom of movement for both the blind athlete and the guide, but keep them in close proximity of each other. As they run, the guide becomes a play-by-play announcer of sorts. It is the guide’s responsibility to provide verbal cues to the athlete on matters such as upcoming hills, turns, curbs, uneven footing, where other competitors are in the race, times, etc.”

Make use of a guide (dog)

Guides sometimes walk on all fours and are better conversationalists. For those with a visual impairment, a service dog can offer freedoms that even human guides cannot provide.

Service dogs assist their owners by helping them avoid obstacles, warning them of sudden elevation changes, and when it’s necessary, even disobeying orders if those orders puts them in an unsafe situation. These highly intelligent companions are perfect for visually-impaired people who want to experience activities like hiking, backpacking, and deep woods camping.

Step outside your comfort zone

“Alpine (downhill) skiing is one of the rare opportunities available which allows the blind individual to move freely at speed through time and space. An opportunity to embrace and commune with the primal force of gravity, thus experiencing the sheer exhilaration of controlled mass in motion, in a physically independent setting,” says Brian Santos, a visually-impaired former Paralympic champion.

Skiing is truly special to those with visual impairment. And with the help of a guide, all the fun of the slopes is well within your grasp.

There are two basic ways to make this possible, according to VisionAware:

“The guide remains behind the skier, orienting the skier with verbal descriptions and instructions. This system requires wide slopes with few obstacles; or the guide precedes the skier and provides orientation through verbal instructions as the skier follows the outline of the guide’s body and movements. This system requires fewer precise instructions, since the skier primarily follows the voice and movements of the guide.”

Skiing is just one way to step outside your comfort zone and tackle a sport that’s a little “extreme”.

Want more “extreme” adventure? Try whitewater rafting. Many rafting tours offer opportunities for the visually impaired. With a guide or without, depending on your comfort level, you too can experience the excitement and challenges of rafting.

In fact, those with visual impairment can experience a wide variety of sports like surfing, sailing, and rock climbing. If you can dream of it, it’s probably already been done. Take a cue from those who have forged a path of adventure despite their visual impairment. You can follow in their footsteps.

Recently our friends from the Craig Hospital Adventure Program joined us for 1.5  days of rafting on the Arkansas River.  This is always a highlight of our summer! We take folks out of their chair to experience this amazing adventure.  They started with an intermediate trip on Bighorn Sheep Canyon and then added the Class IV+ Royal Gorge because they had so much fun!  When you know someone who doesn’t think they can go rafting, share this video of folks who are not going to be denied adventure in the outdoors!   Craig Hospital Rafting Adventure video.