Whitewater rafting companies hoping to break more records


A group heads out on a whitewater rafting trip on Clear Creek. (File photo)

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IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Despite a below-average snow pack across Colorado, whitewater rafting companies on Clear Creek hope to break more records this season.

Last year, more than 90,000 commercial rafters navigated the rough waters of Clear Creek.

This year, rafting companies are aiming for more than 100,000.

"We’re kind of hitting the money spot right now," Matt Espy, the general manager at Colorado Adventure Center, told FOX31.

On Memorial Day, the waters of Clear Creek were flowing at 610 cubic feet per second.

"A lot of the rocks are covered; a lot of the waves are out," said Director of Operations Justin Ibarra, who had just finished a morning rafting trip. "The fun is to be had. So, it’s a good time out there right now."

Ibarra and other rafters hope it stays that way.

Ideally, they want the water rushing between 500 and 900 cubic feet per second.

"Low water...the rocks will start to come out. High water...people get scared out because it gets a little dangerous," Ibarra said.

Right now, Clear Creek is supposed to peak sometime near the middle of June. If it doesn't get too hot, too soon and the afternoon rains continue, that could mean rafting on Clear Creek could continue past Labor Day.

But other rivers aren't as lucky.

The Arkansas River has already peaked, which could shorten the rafting season and have a big effect on the economy.

Colorado has broken records when it comes to commercial whitewater rafting trips in the last two years.

In 2017, more than 570,000 commercial trips were taken on the state's rivers.

That amounts to a $193 million economic impact for Colorado.

Rafting companies are also adding other activities to make up for slow waters.

This weekend, Colorado Adventures is opening a three-story high ropes obstacle course.

Other adventure companies have similar set-ups and zip lines.

Back on Clear Creek - one reason the it's doing so well is because of the late season snow storms on the mountains that feed the river.

As long as that snow doesn't melt too soon and the rain keeps coming, the rafters will as well.


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