Frequently Asked Questions


If it’s your first time on the river, you may have a hard time deciding what to wear whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River.  Through years of experience, our staff has compiled a list of frequently asked questions and concerns from previous guests.  Many of our answers are dependant on the water level and time of year.  The rafting minimum age is dependant on the difficulty of each particular section of the river.  For up-to-date information on rafting minimum ages, please contact us at 1-800-321-4352 or  We look forward to seeing you on the river!


Booking GuaranteeArkansas River Tours has a Hassle-Free Booking Guarantee and this provides you with full flexibility to change or cancel your reservation with NO FEES as long as you do it 10 days prior to your tour date. Group reservations of 15 or more also apply to the Hassle-Free Booking Guarantee as long as you do it 30 days prior to your tour date.

We have created this safety video through the Colorado River Outfitters Association so you may preview the safety orientation you will receive before every rafting trip. This will help you understand the inherent risks of whitewater rafting.

It’s easy! Either call us at 800-321-4352 between 7am and 7pm MST or make a reservation online through our website. Listing and availability are online and if you don’t see what you are looking for custom trips can be booked over the phone.

The ARKANSAS RIVER is nationally recognized as one of the top commercial runs in the country. The Class III – IV whitewater of the BIGHORN SHEEP CANYON section is suitable for novices and experienced boaters alike. The Class IV+ whitewater of the ROYAL GORGE is the ultimate whitewater challenge for the adventurous or thrill-seeking experienced boater. Our full day trips on these sections are the best value and provide the most rewarding experience. If you are on a tight schedule, choose a 1/2 day BIGHORN SHEEP CANYON trip or the 1/2 day ROYAL GORGE trip for experienced Class III rafters. For families with small children (at least 35 lbs) or for those looking for an introduction to whitewater rafting, we also offer a 1/4 day trip.

We specialize in teaching people to paddle. If you have the desire to participate and are in reasonably good health, paddling is for you! If you would rather hold on and have a guide row the boat, then an oar boat is your choice. Families with young children should select this option. Adventurous first-timers are fine in a paddle boat. Paddle boats will hold 7 guests plus a guide for a maximum load. Oar boats can take up to 7, depending on a total weight of the group.

The whitewater of the ARKANSAS RIVER provides excitement throughout the season. Normally the peak runoff is reached by mid-June. Some rapids become easier at high flows and others become more difficult. Some rapids may require portaging at certain levels. May and early June have cooler air temperatures but exhilarating whitewater. The rest of the season is usually warm and sunny with occasional late afternoon showers. We are guaranteed sufficient water through August.

Before going on any river trip with Arkansas River Tours, each guest over 18 years old must read, understand and sign our Liability Waiver. Parents or legal guardians must sign for any children under 18 years old.

Statistics prove that rafting is safer than golf or skiing, however, participating in an outdoor adventure does have inherent risks and hazards. We take every possible precaution throughout our operation to provide safe trips. You must take responsibility for following our instructions and guidelines. We reserve the right to consider potential participants physically unfit for this activity.

Every person on our trips will be issued a life jacket (personal flotation device) which is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and designed specifically for whitewater rafting. We can accomodate up to a size 52 inch chest size. Non-swimmers are allowed to participate in whitewater rafting. If you are seriously overweight and can not perform a self-rescue by swimming to shore in the event you are out of the raft, you should consider not rafting. If a guide can not pull in an obese guest who swims, your safety may be jeopardized. You should take an active part in your own rescue. A detailed safety orientation is given before each trip. Swimming ability is required on our more advanced trips. The ability to swim may make you more comfortable in water if you happen to be out of the raft.

We have taken guests with many different medical conditions and physical disabilities on raft trips. It is mandatory that these conditions are disclosed before your reservation is confirmed. A physician’s written approval may be necessary for certain conditions. Your guide and trip leader must also be made aware of your situation.

Well-trained personable guides, all necessary river and safety equipment, splash jackets, dry bags and shuttles are all included in the trip cost. One day and multi-day trips include meals and beverages.

Shorts, bathing suits and river sandals or sneakers are proper attire. Synthetic fabrics are preferable to cotton. If you wear glasses or sunglasses you will need an eyeglass strap. You will find a full variety of supplies in our on site store. We also recommended that you bring a change of dry clothing (left in your car) for after the trip. Leave jewelry and valuables at home or lock them in your car. You may check your keys at our desk for safekeeping. Please review our complete What To Bring list.

We have wetsuits, paddle jackets and boots available for rent on any of our trips. For overnight trips we have a limited supply of sleeping bags, tents and ground pads. All overnight rental gear should be reserved in advance. Please check out our packing list page to view rental equipment prices. To reserve rental equipment please contact us.

Sure! Be sure and do so when you first make your reservation. We will do our best to honor your request, however, if they are requested by others, working another section of the river or have the day off, it may not be possible.

Whitewater Classification Guide

Class I: Easy

Water with riffles and small waves and few obstructions that are easily missed.

Class II: Novice

Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels. Some maneuvering required. Rocks and medium waves are easily missed.

Class III: Intermediate

Rapids with moderate, irregular waves that are difficult to avoid with tight passages, strong eddies and currents.

Class IV: Advanced

Intense, predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling, with some unavoidable waves and tight passages.

Class V: Expert

Very long or extreme rapids. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and tight chutes with complex routes.