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3 Tips for Rafting in Durango, Colorado

Rapid Classifications, Gear, & Rafting Etiquette

Rafting in Durango, Colorado is the perfect adventure for your entire family. It is blessed with warm summers beginning as early as May and ending by the onset of September.

Animas River DSRR
Animas River DSRR by Clyde frogg / CC BY 3.0

Understanding The Animas

The Animas is a long stretch of river that goes all the way down to merge with New Mexico’s very own San Juan River. The Animas has differing class levels of water which provides the right exciting adventure for any rafter. So, to make your whitewater rafting trip enjoyable, safe and ‘THE’ experience of a lifetime, here are some quick tips for rafting in Durango, Colorado.


Tip #1: Get to Know the Rapid Classifications of Animas

Essentially, there are 6 different rapid classes. The 6th class is not navigable. The 5th class is extremely long and difficult which poses a significant hazard to life when an accident happens due to its violent rapids. The 4th class poses difficult and long rapids with some passages that are obstructed that could necessitate scouting from shore. The 3rd class rapids have constricted channels with erratic and high waves that can swamp an open canoe. The 2nd class has open channels with waves up to 3 feet and easy rapids. And lastly, the easiest of all is the 1st class rapids with small waves and ripples of moving water.

Only go for the class of rapid that’s suitable to your state of health, level of fitness, and skill to avoid any untoward accident. The Upper Animas River has up to Class 5 rapids and the Class 5 is only suitable for experienced rafters.

Tip #2: Wear Suitable Clothing and Gear

When going on a Durango rafting trip, you will get wet. So, it is only prudent that you dress to get wet. Not only that, also take into consideration your comfort when dressing up. It is best to use clothes with a quick drying or cotton material. A loose fitting and comfortable gear is highly recommended or a swimsuit will also do the trick. As for your shoes, put on something that can’t be swept away—meaning no slippers or you just might have to say goodbye to it. We suggest wearing waterproof sandals that’s appropriate for the outdoors and preferably with secure straps. Lastly, life jackets are a must when going on a river rafting excursion in Animas—even if you are a skilled swimmer.

Tip #3: Some Simple Rafting Etiquette to Learn

This could be your first time rafting or your 100th time. Either way, it’s a good idea to know these simple and logical rules. The Animas River is host to various water activities and at some point you will pass by an angler. What to do? Try to maneuver your craft to the opposite side of the river, as far from the angler as possible. There are private property that line the Animas River, please do not trespass and try to respect the owners and their property. And lastly, glass containers are prohibited in the Animas River, likewise for alcohol. And remember to leave only your footprints behind, so pick up your trash.

Armed with these tips, your rafting trip in Durango, Colorado is sure to be more enjoyable and accident free. Have fun and enjoy the ride!

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