Beginner trips on the Colorado

Hey all,

I’m a beginner paddler with a few whitewater rafting trips under my belt. I’m planning to pick up an Alpacka Denali Llama sometime this year and hopefully do the Escalante next Spring if flows are good. In the meantime I’m planning to get my boat and float some easy sections of the Colorado for experience. Any suggestions for easy sections from Class I-III?


If you mean the Colorado IN Colorado, a great beginner stretch is the Pumphouse to Rancho del Rio run. Details here:

Justin, thanks for posting. I should’ve been more specific. AZ and UT.

Well, EddyFlower is also a great resource for UT and AZ, as is the book Whitewater of the Southern Rockies (which covers CO, NM, AZ, UT, WY). I have a copy and it’s an awesome reference.

HI Nathan,

Welcome to packrafting! The way you look at the backcountry is gonna change in a big way!

What will also likely change is the way you consider river segments. For example, I’m not real interested in taking a packraft down much more than Class III whitewater, but I’ve packrafted Class V river segments. Packrafts are so easy to portage that choosing which rapids you want to run and which you want to avoid is not an issue. This, of course, is assuming the rapid can be portaged. But even the concept of “portage” changes when you have a packraft. What is considered unportageable in a raft, or even a kayak, might be easily portaged with a packraft. So when Eddyflower or a whitewater guidebook - which definitely weren’t written with a 5lb packable boat in mind - says that a particular river segment is a Class III or higher I don’t necessarily rule it out as a fun and mellow packrafting trip, as long as the crux rapids are portageable.

I realize this advice may be a bit controversial, so be very careful. Confirm from a reliable source that the crux rapids can be portaged. Even if the rapids can be portaged, for some folks it still may not be a wise idea to commit to the segment while relying on the ability to portage. There can be other hazards out there besides a nasty rapid or two. But with common sense and moderate packrafting skills a person can often safely float and portage down river segments that make rafters and kayakers cringe. Always have a very healthy respect for water, just as a rafter or kayaker would, but you’re a packrafter now and soon you’ll start thinking like one!