Performance Tours

Promising Conditions for Upper Arkansas Rafting Season

Promising Conditions for Upper Arkansas Rafting Season

April 2018, – The recent snowfall in the Colorado high country is giving us plenty of reason to celebrate, and we’re not just talking about spring skiing. Soon the snow will be melting, and the rivers will begin to trickle into action around Colorado. As spring is reborn in the Rockies, our attention shifts from snow reports to river conditions.

The 2018 whitewater rafting season is beginning to take shape, and experts in Colorado are looking to snow pack reports to gauge what kind of river season to expect this summer. This past winter, most of Colorado experienced a sub-average snow year. As always, there was plenty of fun to be had on the mountain, and the same goes for the upcoming rafting season.

Upper Arkansas & Browns Canyon Conditions

The Upper Arkansas River Basin is one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in North America. Based on snowpack reports from the United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.), stretches of the Upper Arkansas River that flow through Chaffee County will likely have some of the best rafting in the Colorado. Specifically, Browns Canyon National Monument (class III), Numbers (class IV) and the Mild & Scenic (class II) sections of the river are excellent choices for those looking to experience the best of Colorado rafting this summer.

The source for Arkansas River lays at over 11,000 ft above sea level on the east side of Freemont Pass. The Ark flows about 50 miles south from its source to reach Buena Vista, CO, where thousands of guests flock to the shores of the Arkansas River each year to launch rafting and kayaking adventures. As of April 10, 2018, the Upper Arkansas River Basin is at 97% of the average snowpack.

“Last season was an exceptional water year for Colorado rivers,” says Kevin Foley, owner of Performance Tours Rafting, operating since 1986, “but this year holds promise too. The Upper Arkansas River basin has one of the strongest snowpacks in the state, meaning great river conditions for Chaffee County.”

Peak water, when the river experiences the biggest flows of the year, will likely be late May and early June – the most exciting time to raft in Browns Canyon National Monument and Numbers. In Browns Canyon, a family-friendly trip with exciting class 3+ rapids, guests can look forward to a memorable trip regardless of the time of year or conditions.

“Browns Canyon is a different experience each time you run it,” says Steve Ulrich, a veteran raft guide who has boated in Browns Canyon for ten years, “It all depends on river conditions, time of the season, weather, and the folks you’re paddling with. No matter what, you are going to have a great time on the river. That’s what it’s all about.”

Thanks to the voluntary flow program in the Upper Arkansas Basin, raft-able flows are expected through mid-August for Chaffee County. The goal of the flow program is to provide fun recreational flows to the valley and encourage whitewater enthusiasts to paddle and play on the Arkansas River.

Lower Arkansas & Royal Gorge Conditions

Cañon City, CO is approximately 100 miles downstream from the source of the Arkansas River. The Lower Arkansas River Basin, which includes the Royal Gorge (class IV-V) and Bighorn Sheep Canyon (class III+) will experience a similar season. Flows will be most exciting in June, with the family friendly sections of the river consistently fun throughout the season.

“The Royal Gorge area should hit its peak flow for the season in early June,” says Kevin Foley, who operates a whitewater rafting outpost in Cañon City, “Which will be the most exciting time to experience the legendary whitewater rapids of the Royal Gorge.”

Whitewater rafting is a quintessential summer activity. Guests experience the quiet beauty of Colorado scenery with an occasional wildlife sighting along the river banks, while paddling through rapids with a professional guide. Performance Tours Rafting offers trips for all ages and abilities, including mellow family float tours for children 4 years+, moderate family-friendly rapids touring through Browns Canyon National Monument, and technical class 4+ rapids that will challenge even seasoned paddlers.

“We’re in a good place for the 2018 rafting season,” says Foley, who has rafting locations in Breckenridge, Frisco, Buena Vista, and Cañon City, “We don’t expect it to be a big water year for Colorado rivers, but we do anticipate a fun, family-friendly season with plenty of splash all summer long.”

Save 25% on May Raft Trips + Early Season Tips

Rafting in May: Less people on the river, more wildlife activity, and early season savings!

Book your May raft trip before April 30 and save 25%. Offer valid on available class 2 & 3 trips, including Browns Canyon National Monument, Bighorn Sheep Canyon and Mild & Scenic.

May in Colorado can be a bit tricky for planning outdoor adventures. Some days it’s 65 and sunny and some days it might be snowing. Here are a few tips and tricks for planning an early season rafting trip in Colorado. 

Watch the Weather

Weather in Colorado varies minute-by-minute and sometimes mile-by-mile. When it is raining or snowing in Summit County, it could be sunny and dry in  Browns Canyon National Monument. If it’s damp in Buena Vista, CO, it might be 75 degrees at the Royal Gorge. You just never know! If you’re worried about the forecast, give us a call. There are a few things we can do to make your early season experience more comfortable.

Get the Gear

Opt for the wetsuit, splash jacket, and bootie rentals. You can also bring additional layers made from quick-dry outdoor materials like wool, fleece, micro fleece, polyester, and waterproof jackets.

Check Conditions

River flows in May can be very different from one day to the next. Early May might have lower water levels as the mountain snowpack hasn’t had much of a chance to melt. Late May usually has very exciting flows, as warmer temps have transformed the snow melt into splashy whitewater. Give us a call to check conditions.

Have Fun!

Rafting is fun in every season. Pack your sense of adventure, a great attitude, and jump in the boat with one of our professional whitewater guides.


Don’t Miss the Boat on Big Savings!


Don't Miss the Boat on Big Savings with performance tours rafting the best rafting company in Colorado

It pays to plan ahead

Performance Tours Rafting offers pre-season discounts for early birds and pro-active planners. Start planning your Colorado rafting trip early and save on your summer river trip with the best rafting company in Colorado!

Book online before March 15 and save 30% off your reservation.

Use discount code Holiday30 at check-out to apply your discount.

Performance Tours Rafting offers Colorado raft trips for every ability and experience level. Browse our selection of tours below, or give us a call with any questions while you plan your trip!

[WPSM_AC id=877]

[WPSM_AC id=880]

[WPSM_AC id=883]


The Ultimate Buena Vista Adventure Weekend

The Ultimate Buena Vista Adventure. Where to camp, play, dine and drink in Buena Vista, CO. Performance Tours Rafting Best Rafting Company in Buena Vista

Where to Camp, Play, Dine & Drink in Buena Vista, CO

‘Buena Vista’ is Spanish for ‘beautiful view. Though the spelling might look like the Spanish pronunciation, it’s actually pronounced by locals as ‘Byoo-na Vista’. Some affectionately refer to town as ‘Bewnie’ or simply ‘BV’. The origins of the town’s name are true to it’s Spanish translation – there is no shortage of beautiful views in Buena Vista, CO. From river banks to mountain peaks, and canyons to craggy rocks BV’s stunning landscapes will take your breath away.

Performance Tours Rafting has been running rafting trips in Buena Vista, CO since 1987. Over the last 3 decades, we’ve discovered the best places to camp, the most fun activities, and the greatest food and drinks in the area. We’ve put our heads together to build the ultimate Buena Vista, CO adventure weekend for our guests.


Buena Vista is an incredible Colorado camping destination. In summer, the average daily high temperature hovers in the upper 80’s with ample sunshine and comfortable weather. Depending on how adventurous you are, there’s almost no limit to camping opportunities, especially when you plan in advance. The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area offers 6 campgrounds, that all lay on the Arkansas River. Some of our favorite developed sites are Railroad Bridge Campground and Ruby Mountain Campground. Both campgrounds have clean facilities, roomy tent sites, picnic tables, fire pits, and spectacular views. If you’re on our Browns Canyon National Monument trip, we’ll float past Ruby Mountain Campground within the first mile. The take-out for our Numbers half day trip is at Railroad Bridge

The Ultimate Buena Vista Adventure, Where to camp, play, dine and drink in Buena Vista, numbers rafting best rafting company in Buena Vista, COPlay

Some people consider Buena Vista the whitewater capital of Coloarado, and the Arkansas River is the main attraction. Whitewater rafting is the most fun way to experience the excitement and beauty of the ‘Ark’. Performance Tours Rafting has been running rafting trips in Buena Vista since 1987. We don’t like to brag, but we’re the best around. We offer trips for all abilities, including mild family float trips, exciting and moderate class 3, and wild class 4+.

If you feel like exploring on land for a day, we recommend an adventure in Four Mile Recreation Area. 100,000 miles of public land, located just outside of town. Four Mile is a mecca for all things recreation: camping, fishing, climbing, off-roading, biking, and hiking. There’s a few established campgrounds nearby, but if you’re okay with primitive camping (read: no bathroom facilities) there’s endless possibilities for dispersed, free campsites in Four Mile Recreation Area.

Buena Vista is tucked up against the Sawatch Range, providing stunning mountain views and ample hiking. With 12 ‘fourteeners’ in Chaffee County, peak baggers will want to carefully plan which summit to tackle. Before you hike, be sure to swing by The Trailhead for gear and advice from locals with first-hand experience.

After days packed full of whitewater rafting, exploring public lands, and tackling 14ers you deserve some rest and relaxation. Before or after one of our rafting adventures take some time to enjoy, Mount Princeton Hotsprings at a discounted rate. Discounted admission tickets are available to guests who have rafted with us, or who have an upcoming reservation.

Dine & Drink

Paddling builds up an appetite. Our guides are happy to share their favorite places to fill up after an exciting raft trip. Buena Vista has so many great options for food and drinks! If you’re craving a classic burger and milkshake, you won’t want to skip K’s Dairy Delite. For those with dietary restrictions or if you prefer to eat on the healthier side, House Rock Kitchen offers an extensive menu with many customizable options and a killer outdoor patio. If breweries are your thing, the Eddyline Brewery has an awesome taproom and restaurant in town to quench your thirst and quiet your appetite. Craving something different? Ask your raft guide for a recommendation!

There’s no shortage of options for activities, accommodations and dining in Buena Vista. Join us this summer for the ultimate adventure weekend in Buena Vista, CO!

Whitewater Rafting River Rating System

Whitewater Rafting River Classification

All rivers are placed on a class scale to determine the level of difficulty and classification of whitewater. The class system is rated from 1 – 6, with 1 being extremely mild and 6 considered “un-raftable” for commercial trips. We find that most Colorado whitewater rafting guests enjoy the more moderate levels of whitewater, though we offer rafting trip options for all ages and abilities.


Colorado whitewater rafting river rating

From easy to advanced, Performance Tours Rafting offers raft trips for beginners and expert whitewater enthusiasts. View our raft trip comparison chart or click through the trip options below. We’ve been bringing our guests rafting for 32 years, so feel free to give us a call with any questions. We look forward to seeing you on the river!

Easy Colorado Raft Trips

[WPSM_AC id=877]

Moderate Colorado Raft Trips

[WPSM_AC id=880]

Wild Colorado Raft Trips

[WPSM_AC id=883]


The Best Time for Colorado Rafting

Browns Canyon Raft Trip from Breckenridge The Best time for colorado rafting

Q – What is the best time of year for Colorado rafting?

A – Depends on the river!


We get this one a lot. At Performance Tours Rafting, we are all about making your whitewater rafting adventure the best experience possible. To determine when the best time for Colorado rafting is, we consider a few key factors: river conditions, experience, guest ages, and occasionally the weather.

Colorado’s whitewater rafting season runs from late April through mid September. We recommend guests looking for the ultimate Colorado whitewater rafting experience to book a trip from June – August, though early and late season conditions can still be a ton of fun!

Guests who are looking for an exhilarating experience will want to join us in May/ June for peak runoff. Peak runoff, also known as high water, usually occurs in late May through June, and the water levels gradually subside throughout the course of the summer. During peak runoff, we often raise the minimum ages on certain trips to ensure guest safety.

The flows will vary from year to year based on snowpack and weather. The most popular and busiest time of the year for Colorado rafting is July, so if you want to avoid the crowds, we recommend jumping in the boat toward the beginning of the summer.  The water levels for rafting are generally very good through mid to late August due to a flow program on the Arkansas River that provides a minimum flow for rafting.

Please remember snowpacks and river conditions will vary from year-to-year and some trips may not be available depending on conditions and flow.


Arkansas River — Buena Vista, CO  *peak runoff late May/early June
Browns Canyon National Monument (Class 3): May – August  
Numbers (Class 4+): June – early August
Mild & Scenic (Class 1-2): May – August
Arkansas River — Canon City, CO   *peak runoff late May/early June
Royal Gorge (Class 4+): June – August
Bighorn Sheep Canyon (Class 3+): May – August
Blue River — Summit County, CO
Blue River (Class 3): June


Take a look at our raft trip comparison chart to get familiar with your Colorado whitewater rafting options.


Save 30% off 2018 Raft Trips!

Browns Canyon family friendly rafting save 30% off 2018 raft trips with performance tours rafting
Book before December 31 and save 30% off 2018 raft trips with Performance Tours Rafting.

Save 30% on 2018 whitewater rafting trips booked before December 31. 


Tired of giving boring presents or collecting trinkets and ‘treasures’? Shared experiences create memories that will out-shine “stuff” any day of the week. Give your loved ones something to look forward to, talk about, and remember for years to come! Give the gift of a memorable adventure this holiday season. Performance Tours Rafting offers a variety of whitewater rafting and river float trips for all ages and abilities. We’ve been bringing guests on Colorado river adventures since 1986 and love to be the highlight of your summer. Book online and enter the promo code Holiday30 at check-out to apply this special holiday discount.

Call to purchase a 2018 raft trip gift certificate and let them choose!



Plan the perfect Colorado Raft Trip!

Our most popular whitewater rafting adventure is a trip through Browns Canyon National Monument in Buena Vista, CO. This stretch of river has class 3 rapids, and is ideal for family and groups with children over 7 years old. There’s a reason this is the #1 whitewater rafting destination in North America! Performance Tours Rafting also offers mellow family float trips through a Mild & Scenic stretch of the Arkansas River. Want to get your adrenaline pumping? Join Performance Tours for a wet and wild experience through class 4 & 5 rapids in Numbers near Buena Vista, CO or the world famous Royal Gorge near Canon City, CO. Looking for something a bit closer to Summit County? The Blue River is a class 3 trip option just north of Silverthorne, and is the perfect balance of splashy whitewater and gorgeous Colorado scenery. No matter which trip you choose for your 2018 raft trip – you won’t be disappointed when you choose Performance Tours Rafting.

[WPSM_AC id=877]

[WPSM_AC id=880]

[WPSM_AC id=883]

Vote Performance Tours for Best Rafting Company

Best Rafting Company in Breckenridge
Thank you for choosing Performance Tours Rafting! -Kevin & Mary Jo Foley

Best Rafting Company Summit County

As a local, family-run business we are extremely grateful for our guests, guides, friends and family that have made the last 31 years possible. We wouldn’t be the company we are today without each of our amazing guides, staff members and of course – the guests that make it all possible. Thank You!


Each year, The Summit Daily hosts a “Best of Summit” campaign to recognize the best businesses in Summit County. There are various categories including: Arts & Entertainment, Community, Food, Outdoors, Services, Shopping and Weddings. Winners are decided based on a voting system, which is why we are asking for your help!

Performance Tours Rafting has been voted “Best Rafting Company” in Summit County 7 times – including last year – and we would LOVE to make it 8. Please vote for Performance Tours Rafting for Best Rafting Company, under the Outdoor Category for the 2017 Best of Summit. Voting is from August 15 – September 15.

Vote Now!

6 Reasons to Raft in August

Raft in August, Breckenridge Rafting, Whitewater Rafting near Breckenridge, Breckenridge Raft Trips

It has been an incredible summer for the whitewater rafting world, but it’s not over yet! We’re making the most of every summer moment and we think you should too…

We will be playing on the Arkansas River through Labor Day, with half day and full day trips departing daily.

Here are 6 reasons to raft in August

1. Above average flows on the Arkansas River.

Thanks to recent rain storms, there’s still plenty of whitewater to splash around in on Browns Canyon and even the Numbers!

2. Escape technology.

 There’s no cell phones, email, or Facebook on the river.

3. Back to school (or work) stories.

What else are you going to talk about on the playground or at the water-cooler?

4. Splash attacks!

 Watch your brother/ sister/ best friend/ or co-worker get splashed in the face… and get a lap full of whitewater yourself! 😉

5. Late Season Savings.

Save 25% off your August Adventure when you book online using the discount code PT25Z or mention this deal when you book over the phone.

6. Because you CAN! If you are fortunate enough to live in Colorado, you can make it to the river and make the most of the last days of summer. If you don’t live in Colorado, we find planning your next summer rafting trip is a great way to beat the end-of-summer blues.

Give us a call or book online to jump in the boat and get in your last splash of summer 2017.


August Rafting Adventures

August Rafting Adventures near Breckenridge

There’s a rumor out there that it is time to squash.

Some folks think that rafting is an activity limited to early summers in Colorado, but that’s just not true! Thanks to the Arkansas River Voluntary Flow Management program, our guests get to enjoy amazing whitewater rafting conditions well into August. The Arkansas River is truly a recreational paradise: fly fishing, whitewater kayaking, stand up paddle-boarding and our personal favorite – whitewater rafting! If you’re passionate about spending time outdoors, and on the river – the Arkansas River (or ARK to locals) is the place to be.

August Rafting Adventures near Breckenridge Sure, Colorado summers can feel a little short lived, but boy do they sure burn bright! If you’re anything like the Performance Tours Rafting crew, you strive to make the most of every cloudless morning, sunny afternoon and summer evening. We prefer to spend as much time on the river as possible, and thanks to the flow management program on the Ark, we’re able to paddle our way through August.

Looking at current flows and river conditions in Browns Canyon today, you could hardly tell that it’s already August! Recent rain storms and heavy precipitation upstream has brought us higher than average water levels for early August. Guests are enjoying the big waves and exciting splashes on Browns Canyon and Numbers, while families soaking up the sunshine on the ‘mighty’ Mild & Scenic, are happy for the mellow class I-II floats.

Are you interested in booking an August rafting adventure with Breckenridge’s best rafting company? Give our friendly and knowledgable reservation staff a call to reserve the best rafting adventure for you and your crew!

Mild & Mellow, Class 1+

[WPSM_AC id=877]

Moderate & Exciting, Class 3+

[WPSM_AC id=880]

Wet & Wild, Class 4+

[WPSM_AC id=883]

Scroll to Top