Monday, February 10, 2014

His and Her Travel Review: Raft-n-Rail and Royal Gorge

Picture It: The year is 2007. The season is summer. The state is Colorado. Our two intrepid travelers are here to see the Rocky Mountains and raft some rivers. After settling on Echo Canyon River Expeditions and driving to Canyon City, they set off on an adventure.

The boats were all lined up - ready to go!
Amanda - Is it obvious by that introduction that I watched a lot of Golden Girls episodes growing up? I love Sophia!

Sean and I, a few years before our trip to Colorado, white water rafted in West Virginia, down the New River. When we were planning our itinerary for CO, we knew we wanted a chance to white water raft there as well. The number of companies that will take you rafting down the extensive river systems are innumerable, but after reading reviews and talking to friends, we settled on Echo. They were amazing and when we go back to Colorado, we will raft with them again.

Away we go! This was one of the first things we saw/rafted through.
I booked the rafting trips, but Sean was sitting next to me when I did it. It is important for this part of the story that you know that he was there for the booking. On the bus going to to the river, the guide told us all that we are going to see while rafting. Sean looked at me with a very puzzled expression. Then his expression turned a little annoyed. He said I had booked the wrong trip and that I had messed up. Ummmmm - excuse me, Mr. Husband! But you were sitting right there! Instead of booking the harder, more challenging rapids run, we booked  a trip on a simpler and more docile part of the river and would ride a train through the nearby gorge (the one we originally wanted to raft through). You can see information about this trip here.
We were allowed to jump in if we wanted. Sean did, Amanda didn't.
The rafting was amazing and fun and exciting, all at the same time. Once we got started, neither of us minded one bit that a mistake had been made. Our guide was funny and pointed out things as we traveled down the river that we would have otherwise missed. The train ride was beautiful! The gorge we traveled through was stunning! We just don't have anything like that here on the East Coast. I was in awe the entire time.

That's the part of the river, wayyy down there, that we rafted the second day.
Remember, I said earlier that Sean was upset about us (yep, he had a part in that too!) not booking the right trip? Well, we decided when we got back to the Echo offices that we would take the rafting trip we had intended to take from the beginning. We got lucky; we were able to book a trip for the next day. 

From the train ride, we could see the rafting trip we would take the next day.
As we were driving back to our hotel, we got caught up in the most horrific thunderstorm of our lives. Lightning coming down all around us, torrential rain that made it nearly impossible to see, and thunder that hurt our ears. We were so grateful to get back to the hotel safe and sound. Why do you need to know about this thunderstorm? Well, because of all the rain, some of the smaller rivers that feed into the Arkansas River flooded and poured mud and gross-ness into the river. The next day, when we arrived at Echo, they informed us of this little issue. They almost closed the river, but had decided it was safe. Safe, but gross. We would basically be rafting through chocolate milk.

From the train ride - We rafted this the next day. Turn the water a muddy brown and you have our experience.
The second trip - which you can see information about here - took us through Royal Gorge. A canyon that was cut by the river. It was beautiful - mind blowing and breathtakingly beautiful! The rapids were hard enough to be fun, but not scary. The tour guide on this one was amazing - he kept us laughing the entire trip. He stopped calling it water and only referred to it as chocolate milk (calm parts) and cappuccino (foam from the rapids). When we finished, we were exhilarated and covered in mud! I have never been that dirty in my entire life. 
From the train - we rafted this section also, but the water had more of a cappuccino quality.
I was very impressed with Echo Canyon River Expeditions. They were easy to find and the staff was very friendly and professional. Due to the botched booking, I was more than a little bummed that we wouldn't get to raft the more difficult and technical section of the river. After seeing the section of river that I wanted to raft from the train, I really wanted to come back the following day to do it and thankfully Amanda agreed. The Raft-N-Rail tour (what we did day 1) is perfect for first timers or those with children, but doesn't have a lot of the bigger rapids. Plus it would be a good option if you have limited time. The Royal Gorge Rafting trip  (what we did on day 2) is a better choice for veteran rafters as it is more intense. It was by far the most scenic route I had ever rafted and probably one of the best canyon rafting trips you can find. I also appreciated that the minimum age for this trip was 15 years as younger children on these more technical routes is not ideal. I would definitely recommend Echo Canyon River Expeditions to anyone wanting to raft in Colorado and I look forward to going back soon and booking another trip or two.

Stunning and beautiful! There are no other words to describe this view.
We talk often about going back to Colorado, and rafting with Echo is a necessity when we do. I even have a few trips already picked out - I think the Raft and ATV trip looks awesome, the Browns Canyon trip looks beautiful, and I would absolutely raft Royal Gorge again. I don't know when we will go back to Colorado, but I can hear the Arkansas River calling me. I hope I can answer that call soon!
You can see the river below. We rafted that part on the second day.

Have you been to Colorado? Have you rafted the Arkansas? We would love to hear about your experiences if you have!

Happy Rafting!

1 comment:

  1. Great scenery! Looks so fun!

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle


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