5 Big Differences Between Rafting on Clear Creek and Upper Colorado River

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Are you looking for rapids, thrill, and exhilaration?

Are you looking for a slow leisurely float through the wilderness?

Here's a look at the main differences between Clear Creek and Upper Colorado rafting to help you decide which one is better suited for your adventure trip this summer:



A Longer Trip

The beginning of Clear Creek beginner rafting is located in Idaho Springs. That makes it a very conveniently located raft location for many people given most places offering rafting are located within 10 minutes of that starting point. But the overall rafting time is also shorter -usually only lasting 2 to 3 hours on average. For some people that's a perfect amount of time since paddling can wear you out. For others, a full day raft is preferred -which is where Upper Colorado rafting comes in.

The Upper Colorado River is about 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Idaho Springs, driving through incredible mountain landscapes, historic towns, and some incredible views of the Colorado wilderness. It's considered a full day trip starting at 9 am and usually ending around 5 pm. since it's a full day excursion, Lawson Adventure Park & Resort also includes lunch in their Upper CO rafting trip. There will also be an overnight rafting & camping trip package offered this year since there are camping sites along the river.

Scenic Sites

The most noticeable difference between Clear Creek and Upper Colorado is the surrounding area. Clear Creek is located near the highway and you go under bridges and behind the town of Idaho Springs. The benefit of that is you get to learn about the gold mining history of the area and see various landmarks along the trip. There are also moments when you are more "off the beaten path" in nature, but in general you are located near the town.

At the Upper Colorado River there is no town nearby and you wind your way through a canyon and are in open mountainous wilderness. You're definitely more IN nature. It's not uncommon for guests to see eagles nests or bald eagles themselves flying above.

The Pace

There is no better or worse scenario for this difference in the pace -only the interest of the individual or group. Clear Creek is faster in general and has more rapids, but there is also a good balance between the splashes and the moments of less paddling and more calm floating along the river. The Upper Colorado rafting trip involves no paddling (the guide does all the work) and there's ample amount of time to take pictures and enjoy the surrounding woods and wildlife. It was a slower, more leisurely pace.

Work and Team Effort

With Clear Creek rafting, you have to paddle as a team -which can be hard if you've never coordinated with the members of the group in that way. The guide still does the bulk of the work from the back of the raft, but there is more physical effort put in to working your way down the river. It's always important to be alert and to listen to the guide.

The Upper Colorado trip involves no physical effort other than staying in the boat. There are occasional small rapids and splashing, but overall it's not a fast moving, team-based raft experience.

Time for a Swim

You can't swim down Clear Creek or get out of the boat. It's too dangerous. But The Upper Colorado River has spots where there are diving rocks and places to swim. Whether you'll be brave enough to take the splash off a diving rock depends on your fear of heights. (I had fun watching a father and his two kids face their fears and jump -after some encouragement from other rafters passing by).

In general, there's no wring way to raft when it comes to deciding between these two different trips. It is important to decide as a group which best fits your dynamic.



Have additional questions about which trip to choose, or looking for more activities to do? We are an outdoor adventure park featuring mountain climbing, zipline, rafting, lodging and more! Located just 35 miles west of Denver in the great Colorado wilderness.

Don't hesitate to give us a call today!

Lawson Adventure Park & Resort 
(855) 372-7238 lawsonadventurepark.com

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