Top 5 Royal Gorge Tours

Spontaneity can be fun. Taking a drive to find an interesting new restaurant by the cuteness of its sign or strolling down an unknown street to see what little hidden gems you find adds to the spice of life. Sometimes, it’s a dud, and other times, you find something special – and that’s the fun!

But sometimes, planning ahead creates that electric anticipation that can be almost as fun as the adventure itself. When you want to fill your free day with guaranteed adventure, a Royal Gorge Tour is an easy win. 

The Royal Gorge is one of Colorado’s most impressive scenic stops, with towering walls reaching heights of 1,250 feet and a dramatic canyon that weaves across the landscape. Filled with opportunities for soaring above or splashing through rapids at the bottom, the canyon has endless ways to have fun. 

The Royal Gorge is just a short drive from Colorado Springs, Denver, and other bigger cities in Colorado. It can be an easy day drip for a fun Royal Gorge tour or an exciting weekend getaway filled with multiple excursions!

When you want that sure-fire-win day of Colorado adventure, plan one of these top 5 Royal Gorge tours. 

Top 5 Royal Gorge Tours

Three images side-by-side of Royal Gorge Whitewater Rafting in Colorado

Royal Gorge Rafting

Great for: Families, friends, adventurers, first-time rafters

Adventure Level: Beginner to advanced

The Arkansas River is one of the most dramatic backdrops for rafting, with sheer rock towers and walls all around you as you navigate the rapids. One of its most striking segments of the Arkansas River is the Royal Gorge, a deep and narrow canyon carved by the river in central Colorado. This stretch, renowned for its dramatic cliffs that soar over 1,000 feet above the river, offers breathtaking views and thrilling recreational opportunities. The Royal Gorge is a hotspot for whitewater rafting, with challenging rapids that attract adventure enthusiasts from around the world.

Rafting trips on the Royal Gorge span from being great for kids and beginners to perfect for the seasoned adventurer and everything in between. 

Adrenaline-Packed Rafting Tour of the Royal Gorge 

Groups with kids over 14 looking for adrenaline-pumping fun can hit the class II-IV rapids on a Royal Gorge rafting trip. The Royal Gorge section of the Arkansas River is famed for its whitewater, making it a premier destination for thrill-seekers. This dramatic stretch of river, characterized by its towering granite cliffs that soar over 1,000 feet above the water, offers some of the most challenging and exhilarating rapids in the United States. The intense rapids, including notorious ones like Sunshine Falls, Sledgehammer, and Wall Slammer, demand technical skill and provide an unmatched whitewater rafting experience. As the river carves through the narrow, rugged canyon, rafters are treated to heart-pounding drops and turbulent waters, all set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Royal Gorge.

The combination of  adventure and awe-inspiring scenery makes the Royal Gorge a must-visit for experienced rafters and adventure enthusiasts seeking the ultimate whitewater challenge.

Family-Friendly & Calmer Royal Gorge Rafting Tour

Families or groups with younger kids that want a calmer Royal Gorge tour will love the splashy and easy Bighorn Sheep Canyon rafting trip. Bighorn Sheep Canyon is a scenic stretch of the Arkansas River located upstream of the Royal Gorge in Colorado. It extends from the town of Salida to Cañon City, where the Royal Gorge begins. Named for the bighorn sheep that inhabit the area, this canyon offers its own set of stunning landscapes and outdoor activities.

Unlike the more intense rapids of the Royal Gorge, Bighorn Sheep Canyon features a mix of moderate whitewater sections, making it popular among families and less experienced rafters. The canyon is also renowned for its excellent fishing, abundant wildlife, and picturesque hiking trails. As the river flows through Bighorn Sheep Canyon and into the Royal Gorge, it transitions from wide, open landscapes to the dramatic, towering cliffs of the gorge, providing a diverse and enriching experience along the Arkansas River.

No matter which rafting style you choose, you will be rewarded with beautiful views, refreshing water, and an unforgettable time on the river!

Multi-Day Rafting 

Great for: Long weekend getaways, summer vacations with adventurers

Adventure Level: All levels that are excited for some overnight fun!


A multi-day rafting trip on one of Colorado’s best rivers is the type of adventure you and your group will fondly look back on for decades. The memories you make on the raft and under the stars are ones you can only get on this kind of overnight rafting Royal Gorge tour. You’ll enjoy camp games, great rapids, delicious foods and an easy and comfortable camping experience.

We have 2- and 3-day overnight rafting adventures that are perfect for groups with kids 14 and older. Our team handles everything from camp setup to delicious hot meals to starting the campfire stories and more!

River guides cooking on a private rafting trip in colorado

River and Rail Package

Great for: Families and groups

Adventure Level: Beginner


Ride the rapids and enjoy the scenes along the river on a river and rail package! This Royal Gorge tour has two different perspectives of the canyon with wildly different experiences. The raft will get you that heart-pumping, rugged adventure while the train lets you enjoy the views from a comfortable seat. It’s the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. 

This train and raft trip spans the board on accommodations, prices, and additions, so you can choose the train adventure you want! You can choose a leisurely float perfect for younger children 4+ or a splashy adventure that kids seven and older will love. The train is a customizable experience as well, with open-air seats, panoramic windows, and classic train cabin seat options available.

Zip and Dip Package

Great for: Families and groups

Adventure Level: Beginner


Have fun from the bottom of the canyon to the top! This Royal Gorge tour is great for adventurous families who want to add some exhilaration to their weekend getaway. The Zip and Dip package starts your adventure on the kid-friendly splashy water of Bighorn or the thrilling rapids of Royal Gorge Canyon. Then, you can dry off flying through the sky on a 5-zipline adventure with rides that span between 300 and 1,800 feet in length! 

You’ll also get bonus adventures of crossing two 200-foot-long rope bridges and repelling 180 feet! You’ll finish the day feeling invigorated and on top of the world!

Royal Gorge Helicopter Tours

Great for: Small groups and couples getaways

Adventure Level: Great for people who love soaring to new heights!

From rocky cliffs to towering rock faces and expansive valley views, a helicopter tour is our favorite way to get an unforgettable overview of all the beauty you can find in Royal Gorge. This high-altitude Royal Gorge Tour will connect you to impossible canyon views and surrounding scenery for a truly memorable aerial experience. With options that range from 5 minutes to 50 minutes, you can soar over Royal Gorge suspension bridges, Bighorn Sheep Canyon, Pikes Peak and more.

The season is just getting started – now is the time to plan your escape and find some thrilling outdoor adventure in the Royal Gorge! With world-class rafting on the Royal Gorge and unforgettable views, you’ll have something to look forward to on your spring and summer calendar. If you need any help getting on the river, reach out to our team! We’ll save you a seat on a raft.

By: Arkansas River Tours
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