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A raft about to go through a whitewater rapid

Rafting Frequently Asked Questions

Are rafting companies licensed?

All commercial rafting outfitters are licensed by the State of Colorado, and all guides must undergo an extensive training program and fulfill requirements set forth by the state. All guides are also required to have CPR and first aid certification.

How long has Performance Tours been in business?

Performance Tours Rafting was established in 1986 by owners Kevin and Mary Jo Foley. Prior to Performance Tours, Kevin was a manager for a large rafting company from 1981-1985.

How experienced are the guides?

We take great pride in the guide staff at Performance Tours, and in our excellent safety record. With their combined years of experience, our highly skilled guides are truly some of the best in the business. All guides have undergone an extensive training program that well exceeds the state’s requirements. We have a low guide turnover rate from year to year, resulting in a crew with one of the highest average years of experience anywhere. Many of our guides have additional certifications such as swift-water rescue training and advanced first aid training.

Why should I choose Performance Tours for my rafting adventure?

Experience. We are one of the larger and most experienced rafting outfitters in the state. We host approximately 16,000 rafting guests per season. We have taken more than 490,000 people rafting since 1986, with enough river miles to circle the earth over 350 times! Our company goal is to provide the highest quality trip available at competitive prices, and we have one of the best safety records in the business. We are active members of several professional trade organizations including the Colorado River Outfitters Association, the Arkansas River Outfitters Association, and America Outdoors, helping to set the highest of standards for rafting outfitters in the state. We have a very high percentage rate of return guests every year who were completely satisfied with their whitewater experience with Performance Tours.

What if I've never rafted before or I can't swim?

We have a wide range of trips suitable for all ages and levels of experience. We allow non-swimmers on several of our trips. We also provide mandatory life jackets. The life jackets are designed to keep your head above water in the event that you end up outside of the raft.

Could I get hurt rafting?

In any outdoor adventure activity involving risk and inherent dangers, there is always the possibility of injury. We take many precautions to minimize the risk, resulting in very few minor injuries each season. There is a low potential for injury on our mild to moderate trips. The potential for injury increases with the level of difficulty of the trip. We give a very informative river orientation/safety talk prior to each trip that familiarizes the guests with some of the potential risks.

How do I choose the best rafting trip for me?

Call our office and let our reservation assistants help you determine which trip would be the most appropriate for you or your group. Consider the following when planning your trip: • The age range and ability level of the group • The physical condition of the group members (for the more difficult class trips) • The length of the trip: Half Day, Full Day or Multi-Day • Driving distance to the trip departure office • Departure times and return times • The level/class of the trip: Mild/Class II (family adventure); Moderate/Class III (exciting but not overwhelming); Extreme/Class IV-V (adrenaline-pumping adventure!)

When is Colorado's whitewater rafting season?

The Colorado whitewater rafting season runs from May through early September.

Do I have to paddle?

We offer paddle boats (everyone participates), oar boats (the guide solely navigates the raft), and paddle assist (the guide rows and the crew paddles intermittently). If you prefer not to paddle or are unable to paddle, please speak with a reservationist for assistance choosing the best trip for you.

Can you tell me about rafting the Arkansas River?

The Arkansas River is considered to be one of the best whitewater rafting rivers in the world, offering everything from family adventure trips to extreme whitewater trips. The Brown’s Canyon section offers class III-IV whitewater amidst spectacular mountain and desert scenery, and is the most popular raft trip in the country. This trip leaves from our Buena Vista office. The Mild & Scenic trip is an excellent alternative for those wanting relaxing flat water, small scale rapids and beautiful mountain scenery. This is a great trip for families with small children. The trip also leaves from our Buena Vista office. The class IV+ whitewater of the Royal Gorge runs between 1,100′ canyon walls and beneath the world’s highest suspension bridge. This trip leaves from our Cañon City office. The Bighorn Sheep Canyon trip offers plenty of exciting moderate-level class III whitewater and spectacular scenery in the magnificent Royal Gorge area. This trip also leaves from our Cañon City office.

Can you tell me about the Blue River?

The Blue River Half Day trip offers class III whitewater through beautiful alpine scenery. The season runs from late May to early July and varies slightly from year to year based on water levels. This is the closest and most convenient rafting trip to Summit County and departs from our Frisco office.

Can my children go rafting?

The age restrictions for the different rivers are based on degree of difficulty and are as follows: Arkansas River • Mild & Scenic – Easy Class I-II; recommended minimum is 4 years old and 30 lbs. • Brown’s Canyon – Moderate Class III-IV; recommended minimum is 7 years old and 50 lbs. Exceptions are made when the water levels subside. We may also adjust upward during above average flow rates. • The Narrows – Moderate Class III-IV; recommended minimum age is 10 years old. • The Numbers – Challenging Class IV-V; recommended minimum age is 16. • Royal Gorge – Challenging Class IV-V; recommended minimum age is 16 but varies with conditions. For example, we will adjust the age minimum to 14 years old with lower flow rates. Blue River – Moderate Class III+; recommended minimum age is 7 years old and 50 lbs. Colorado River – Easy Class I–II; recommended minimum age is 4 years old and 30 lbs. These guidelines can also be found in each trip description. When in doubt, call us!

When and where do we meet?

Check your trip of choice for meeting and departure times. Your meeting location and time will also be on your reservation confirmation. When in doubt, call us.

Are life jackets provided?

Yes. We provide the highest quality Coast Guard approved life jackets available. We have life jackets to fit almost any size individual. We require that they be worn at all times while on the river.

What are the chances of falling out of the raft?

If you pay attention and follow your guide’s instructions, your chances of falling out of the raft are minimized. It is important that every guest pays close attention during the pre-trip safety talk in order to know what to do if you do end up going for a swim.

Is there a guide on each raft?

Yes. Each raft has a highly qualified guide on board who has undergone an extensive training and certification program. The Performance Tours, Inc. training program exceeds the requirements set forth by the State of Colorado and the U.S. Government.

What should I wear and what should I bring?

Wear comfortable, quick-drying clothing (swimsuit, shorts), and protective footgear (wet shoes or sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet). We also recommend sunglasses, hat, sunscreen and a fleece or performance fabric shirt on cooler days. We have complimentary wetsuits, booties, and whitewater splash jackets available. We recommend bringing a dry change of clothes for after the trip.

Where do we change clothes?

Performance Tours has changing rooms at all of our full-service offices. Our facilities are clean and comfortable and help to make your experience the best that it can be.

Do I need to bring extra money?

We recommend bringing money for any souvenirs, t-shirts, photos of your trip, etc. that you may wish to purchase. If you have an enjoyable trip a guide gratuity is appropriate and always appreciated.

Do I need to tip my guide?

If you enjoyed your whitewater rafting experience, chances are your raft guide had a lot to do with it! Guide gratuity is an industry standard and is very much appreciated.

What's for lunch?

Our Full Day trips include a delicious buffet-style lunch along with a beverage. You may bring non-alcoholic canned beverages if desired. Typically our lunch consists of sandwich spread with meats, cheeses, various veggies, chips, fruits and more. Lunch is enjoyed on our office patio or riverside. We are happy to accommodate allergy and food restrictions – just give our office a call to let us know.

What if it rains?

If you don’t like the weather in Colorado, just wait 10 minutes! Our raft trips go out every day of the season regardless of weather conditions, which means there are no cancellations due to weather. Whitewater splash jackets and wetsuit rentals are available. Temperatures are generally warm at the different river locations

When is the most exciting time to go rafting?

Our season typically runs from late April through mid-September. 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. Peak runoff (high water) occurs late May through June, and the water levels gradually subside throughout the course of the summer. The flows will vary from year to year based on snowpack and weather.

Are reservations required?

Advance reservations are strongly recommended to ensure the trip of your choice. Last minute reservations and walk-ins are welcome on a space-available basis. Call our office for group rates (10 or more people) and special quotes. We reserve the right to alter your scheduled trip if river conditions prevent us from running certain sections. Minimum ages may vary with changing river conditions.

Is a deposit required?

Yes. A 50 % deposit is required to guarantee space and can be made by phone with a credit card, by mailing a check, or by paying in person at one of our offices.

What is your cancellation/refund policy?

As of March 2020, our new cancellation policy is that guests canceling outside of 72 hours will receive a full refund – no fees.

Guests still have the option to purchase cancellation coverage for a 6% fee, for cancellations made within 72 hours. With cancellation coverage, they can cancel up until 6 pm on the eve of their trip and receive a full refund – less the insurance fee.

Cancellations within 72 hours are non-refundable without cancellation coverage.

How do I get back to my car?

Performance Tours will provide transportation from the meeting location/office to the river, and back to the office where your vehicle is parked following the trip. 
 Arkansas River 3/4 Day trip: Transportation to the Buena Vista office is available from some resort areas on specific trips. Guests are encouraged to use their own transportation. Directions are clearly outlined on the back of our brochure and on our website. Arkansas River Half-Day trip: We can arrange transportation for groups to our Buena Vista office from some resort areas through a local transportation company for an additional fee (market rate). 
Blue River: Transport to and from the river is provided from our Frisco office.

Licenses, Permits, and Professional Associations?

Performance Tours, Inc. is licensed by the State of Colorado and operates under permit by the White River National Forest. All or part of this operation is conducted on public lands under a special permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Performance Tours, Inc. is a member of Colorado River Outfitters Association, Arkansas River Outfitters Association, and America Outdoors. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Can I go on a private raft trip?

Yes, we do offer private raft trips. Click here or call to learn more about this experience.


Buena Vista, Arkansas River
115 Gregg Drive
Buena Vista, CO 81211
(719) 395-6097
Royal Gorge, Arkansas River
0193 County Road 3A
Canon City, CO 81212
(719) 395-3154
107 Ski Hill Rd.
Breckenridge, CO 80424
(970) 453-0661
Blue River
842 North Summit Boulevard
Frisco, CO 80443