Family Weekender: Denver

River Adventures at Salida
By Bill Scanlon
Kayak school
Kaykak school with American Adventure Expeditions
Go Guide: Salida

Activities: Kayaking or rafting
Age Levels: 10 and up
Hours from Denver: 2.5
Getting There: Take Interstate 25 to C-470 and take the U.S. 285
South exit. At Poncha Springs, take U.S. 50 east to Salida. Several rafting companies have headquarters along U.S. 50.

Contact: Call 800-288-0675 for American Adventure Expeditions. Noah's Ark: 779-395-2148 or River Runners Ltd.: 800-525-2081 or


After a one-day lesson your family can be catching eddies, playing in the white foam and learning how to read the tricky waters on the Arkansas River. Several rafting companies in and around Salida offer kayaking lessons.

American Adventure Expeditions charges $100 per family member. Expect to spend a good part of the day on a lake working on strokes and learning about Eskimo rolls. Later, play in the currents in the Cotapaxi-to-Texas-Creek area along the Arkansas.

The $100 includes all the kayaking gear and safety equipment needed, plus lunch and a guide. Once proficient, a descent down Brown' Canyon is the kind of adventure that families relive and embellish during a lifetime of reunions.

If rafting is more your family's style, River Runners Ltd. and Noah's Ark have been leading whitewater descents for a long time.

River Runners offers a mild to moderate half-day trip down the Arkansas from Salida to Parkdale ($26.75 for adults, $19.75 for children).

Noah's Ark offers a half-day or full-day trip down Brown's Canyon for the more adventurous ($33.50 for adults, $23.50 for children for the half day).

Many of the easy to moderate trips embark within a few miles of Buena Vista or Salida, near the intersecton of U.S. 285 and U.S. 24

Wear bathing suits, shorts and T-shirts in warm weather; a wool shirt and windbreaker for cooler days. Don't forget hats and suntan lotion. Tennis shoes are essential.


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