Colorado rafting companies increasing safety measures with high water

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. -- This rafting season is being called the best in more than a decade. An early proclamation, but one that could prove true if record snowpack continues to slowly run off.

In Idaho Springs, rafting companies are seeing rapids they haven’t seen in a number of years.

“It’s definitely going to be better than last year,” said Shaun Lammert with Arkansas Valley Adventures.

AVA is one of 14 rafting companies in the Idaho Springs area. It’s big business for the small town.

“We really depend on the commerce that comes in with the rafting communities,” said mayor Mike Hillman. “Last year, reality was, by the 4th of July we were pretty much done rafting.”

But with the high water comes increased risk. Last week, a man died rafting near Vail, and on Monday, a man died rafting near Canon City.

“We’re really going the extra mile right now to make sure we can stay as safe as we can out there,” said Lammert.

AVA is stationing extra guides along the banks of the Clear Creek, particularly near large rapids. It’s a safety measure they didn’t need last year.

We’re sending more guides to paddle if there’s empty spots on the rafts, we’re paying them to do that, and we’re putting extra guys on shore with rope just in case at the bottom of our rapids,” said Lammert. “He’ll have a bag of rope and if anyone falls out, he can throw it to them.”

Lammert expects the rafting season to last well into September.

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