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A group of paddlers on the Arkansas River Numbers section rafting in May

Tips for planning an early season raft trip in Colorado

A group of paddlers on the Arkansas River Numbers section rafting in May

Tips for Whitewater Rafting in May

Beat the crowds, scope wildlife & plan the best early season Colorado raft trip

Less Crowds

Around Memorial Day, the crowds typically start to make their way to the mountains to celebrate summer. Shortly after that schools go on summer vacation and families will flock to the high country. Fewer people on the river mean more peace and quiet time to soak up the wonderful sights and sounds of nature while rafting in May.

More Wildlife Activity

Animal lovers rejoice! Wildlife activity begins to increase in early summer and late spring. It’s not uncommon for guests whitewater rafting in May to see mule deer, and bighorn sheep and some lucky paddlers might see the occasional elk while rafting in the early season. In fact, the Browns Canyon section of the Arkansas River was designated a National Monument in 2015 partly because of the abundant wildlife in the area. 

Check the Forecast

Weather in Colorado varies minute-by-minute and sometimes mile-by-mile – especially in April and May! 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, it could be 75 and sunny in the Royal Gorge. If you’re worried about the forecast, give us a call. There are a few things we can do to make your early season rafting experience more comfortable.

Get the Gear

High altitude rafting means our rivers are filled with snowmelt coming off some of the highest peaks in Colorado. In April and May, we recommend getting the gear to prepare for colder water and changing conditions. Opt for the wetsuit, splash jacket, and bootie rentals. Bring additional layers made from quick-dry outdoor materials like wool, fleece, micro-fleece, polyester, and waterproof layers. Guides can store your layers in dry bags on the boats. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!

Have Fun!

Stoke level is at an all-time high in the early season, and our excitement is contagious. Rafting is fun in every season, at every water level, and on every river. Pack your sense of adventure, and a great attitude, and jump in the boat with one of our professional whitewater guides to soak up the best parts of Colorado whitewater rafting in May.

Best May Raft Trips

Browns Canyon Nat'l Monument

Browns Canyon National Monument

Abundant wildlife and fun river features at every water level make Browns Canyon a great option for May rafting.

The Royal Gorge

The Royal Gorge

Warmer weather, exciting rapids and year-round breathtaking scenery make The Royal Gorge a favorite for early season rafting

The Numbers

The Numbers

Exciting, fast-paced rapids around every turn of the Arkansas River make The Numbers a fun May rafting trip for adventurous groups.