Breckenridge Whitewater Adventures

When most people think of Breckenridge, they think of snowy mountain peaks and skiing or snowboarding during the winter months. As winter slips away and the sun shines brighter and warmer at 9600 feet above sea level all that snow begins to melt and flow into creeks, ponds, lakes, waterfalls, and babbling brooks which eventually converge into the mighty Colorado River. And all that running water presents a great opportunity for summer fun and adventure: Whitewater rafting!

Breckenridge is nestled at the bottom of the Tenmile mountain range, and conveniently close to rivers that are ideal for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. These on-water adventures are perfect for thrills, taking in the scenery of beautiful canyons, fishing, and feeling that Colorado sunshine.

While running the river is a great summer activity, it does come with a level of risk and we recommend if you are planning on a white-water adventure do so with a guide service, like our in town favorite Performance Rafting Tours, but more on them later. Let’s take a look at some of the rivers that flow in or around Breck:
Rafting down the Blue River with Performance Rafting Tours

The Blue River:

Flowing through the heart of Breckenridge, the Blue River offers a range of sections suitable for all skill levels. As you navigate this stunning waterway, you’ll be enchanted by the alpine scenery that surrounds you. The Upper Blue River is a great stretch for whitewater rafting offering Class I to Class III rapids, while the stretch below Green Mountain Reservoir is more suited to kayakers, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), and rafts, with rapids ranging from Class I to Class II.

Rafting the Blue River near Breckenridge Colorado

The Arkansas River AKA “The Ark”:

A short drive from Breckenridge, the mighty Arkansas River awaits, offering an unforgettable whitewater experience. Renowned for its thrilling rapids and dramatic canyons, the Arkansas River attracts adventurers from around the world. With sections ranging from peaceful floats to challenging Class V rapids, this river caters to all levels of experience. Performance Rafting Tours is your go-to guiding service for exploring the Arkansas River, whether you choose whitewater rafting, kayaking, or SUP. Their experienced guides will lead you through the exhilarating drops, epic waves, and breathtaking gorges. What is our pick for a stretch of river to explore on this section? Brown’s Canyon! A great mix of scenery and waves await as you float through the rock-flanked surrounding. This float is excellent and only takes about 2.5 hours.

Whitewater Rafting adventures in Colorado

The Colorado River:

About an hour and a half drive away from Breckenridge, you will find the state’s namesake river. You can float for miles on this river with stretches ranging from calm family fun with a few splashes all the way up to raging Class V rapids. Eagles, river otters, foxes, bears, big horn sheep, and other Colorado wildlife can be observed on this river as it passes through mountains,  canyons, deserts, and everything in between. Each section of the Colorado offers different views and challenges, so please consult a guide service, research, and be prepared for heading out on an adventure.

Floating the Upper Colorado River near Breckenridge, CO

Other Notable Nearby Rivers:

Breckenridge is close to a number of other rivers that offer equally enticing water adventures. Clear Creek, the Yampa, and the Eagle River are just a few examples of the nearby waterways that promise unforgettable experiences. Each river features a variety of rapids, ranging from gentle to heart-pounding Class V challenges.

So, you want to wade into white water rafting? Let’s talk about the most important aspect: Safety.

White Water Safety Tips:

When venturing out on these rivers, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Here are some tips to adhere to when floating the rivers around Breckenridge:

  1. Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket.
  2. Maintain a proper grip on your equipment and be aware of your surroundings.
  3. Stay hydrated and apply sunscreen regularly to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
  4. Be cautious of rocks, submerged obstacles, and changing river conditions.
  5. Be prepared! Do plenty of research on the stretch of water you are interested in floating. Know the CFS, water temperature, and prominent rapids on your stretch. Great resources are the USGS and Bureau of land management websites.
  6. Feet up! If you fall off your craft make sure to keep your feet up to avoid foot entrapment, a common hazard with Colorado’s rock-lined rivers.
  7. Scout your rapid or portage. If you are unsure of how a rapid or wave is flowing, don’t be afraid to pull over and hike to get eyes on it before just charging in blindly. Don’t see a line you want to take? Don’t be afraid to portage around – take your craft out of the water and hike around past the water feature. If you are scouting or portaging be aware of where you plan to stop as there are sections of riverbank that are private property and pulling up to the shore can be considered trespassing.

8. If you’re not an experienced paddler, consider guided tours or lessons to enhance your skills and knowledge. We can’t stress this point enough, white water adventures are seriously fun, but can also be seriously dangerous without the proper knowledge. We encourage even seasoned oarsmen, kayakers, and Sup’ers to consult or get a guide when the waters are flowing high or exploring a new section of water.

This brings us to our preferred guide choice….

Performance Rafting Tours

Founded in Breckenridge in 1986, Performance Rafting Tours number one priority is safety. They go above and beyond in training their rafting guides and set a standard to exceed the minimum number of hours required by the state of Colorado to become a certified rafting guide. Performance Rafting Tours has 5 different locations in Breckenridge, Buena Vista, Idaho Springs, Colorado Springs, and the Royal Gorge. Performance Rafting Tours has been owned and operated by Breckenridge locals since its beginning and has tons of accolades and 5-star reviews to back up the commitment they have to safety and offer an excellent rafting experience. Even if you just have questions about the river or rafting don’t be afraid to pop into their Breckenridge location for a quick chat. The Best of Breck team recently had the opportunity to go on a tour down Brown’s Canyon with Performance Rafting Tours and were smiling ear to ear through the Pinball, Zoom Flume, and Windowmaker rapids.
Rafting the Arkansas River with Performance Rafting Tours

Breckenridge is a great outpost for anyone seeking some summer fun on the water. If you are looking for a way to wind down after your rapid induced adrenaline rush check out the Grand Colorado on Peak 8 which offers mountainside hot tubs, a full-service spa, and also an ultra-relaxing private grotto with a steam room & sauna, cold plunge, and hot tubs.

If you are looking for other summer activities around Breckenridge, here are some more of our favorites.

 

Summer Music in the Mountains

The high country will be jamming this summer! Let me take you on a tour of the spaces and places you can catch some tunes this summer and some of the high notes that will be hitting with big performances.

Breckenridge Fly Fishing

Breckenridge, Colorado is a world-class destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the area boasts pristine rivers, streams, high alpine lakes, and an abundance of trout species. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, fly fishing in Breckenridge is an experience that should not be missed.

A Day at The Marina

Looking to spend some time on the water or bask in the mountain sun during your mountain getaway? From boat rentals to stand-up paddleboard (SUP) rentals, there are an abundance of activities that will keep the entire family entertained.

Electric Biking in Breckenridge

If you’d like to get around Breckenridge and Summit County on two wheels but need a little assistance, give electric biking a try. This mode of transportation has quickly gained popularity and is an eco-friendly way to sightsee in the high country. Come take a ride with us and see what it’s all about!

What is an Electric Bike?

An electric bicycle, commonly known as an e-bike, is a bike that is equipped with an electric motor that gives you a boost while you’re pedaling. You still have traditional bike gears, but you can opt to add a little juice whenever you need some assistance. While climbing hills at 9,600’ we can tell you we appreciated the extra help!  

How Does it Work? 

Before you get going, you’ll turn on a power switch and a display panel. The display panel is conveniently located on the handlebars and shows you your speed, charge level and pedal assist level. On the left handlebar you can control your pedal assist level, while on the right handlebar you have your traditional gears. 

The pedal assist levels of zero to five correlate with how much power you are relying on from the motor compared to your pedaling. At zero, you receive no power; while at level five you receive maximum power and need to do little to no pedaling. The higher level of power you use, the more of the battery charge you will use.  

Fun fact: With pedal assist, bikes can go up to 20 miles per hour and a charged bike can last up to 45 miles per trip on average! 

Where We Rented From

We rented our e-bike cruisers from Craniologie right on Main Street in Breckenridge. Craniologie rents Class 1 e-bikes with pedal assist, which are the only type of e-bike permitted on the Rec Path. We opted for a half-day rental so we would have just enough time for leisurely riding and stopping for lunch at Lake Dillon. The rental included bike locks and helmets and the staff were helpful with explaining features and safety before we were on our way. 

Rental Options & Pricing 

Bix Sol Eclipse: Classic Cruiser Style

  • Half Day: $59 
  • Full Day: $79 
  • 24 Hours: $99 

Blix Packa Genie: Cargo Bike with Bike Rack

  • Half Day: $69 
  • Full Day: $89 
  • 24 Hours: $109 

Optional Child Trailer Add-On: $30 

Tips Before You Go 

E-Bike Etiquette 

The most popular option for e-biking around Breckenridge is taking the Blue River Recreation Path, better known as the Rec Path. This paved path can take you from Breckenridge to Frisco, Dillon, Copper and Keystone! 

The Rec Path is a popular place for walkers, joggers and bikers alike, which means you’ll be passing a lot of people along the way. Always let people know when you are approaching or passing with something as simple as, “On your left,” and make sure to slow it down. If you are e-biking with a group, be sure to ride single file when passing others and be aware of your surroundings so you do not take up too much space.  

What to Bring 

Our e-bike rentals only had a small pouch on the front, so bringing a small backpack was the best option to hold our belongings. In your bag, don’t forget to pack water and sunscreen. The sun is strong in Summit County and even if you aren’t pedaling as hard, you’ll still need to hydrate! 

Our Half-Day Itinerary

11 a.m.: First, we picked up our rentals at Craniologie and hopped onto the Rec Path, conveniently located right behind the shop. We took our time getting used to the bikes and taking in the mountain views while enjoying our ride along the Blue River. Once we passed Summit High School, we stayed to the right and took the underpass so we could enjoy scenic views of Lake Dillon (highly recommended!). From there, it was only a short jaunt to the Frisco Bay Marina.  

12 p.m.: Since we had an hour of hard work (only kidding), we decided to stop for lunch and beverages at Island Grill at Frisco Bay Marina. It was a perfect sunny day and our combination of grilled fish tacos and frozen cocktails really made us feel like we were on island time.  

1:15 p.m.: After our pit stop, we reapplied sunscreen, powered up our bikes and hopped back on the path to Breckenridge. Since we were familiarized with the bikes, we sped up our pedal assist to level five and cruised. The way back to Breckenridge is slightly uphill the whole way so it was a treat to have the help pedaling! 

2 p.m.: As we approached the town limits of Breckenridge, we still had an hour of rental time left so we decided to make a pit stop at Broken Compass Brewing on Airport Road. Broken Compass is a local staple, with a welcoming tap room and a wide selection of beers. We enjoyed our brews outside under sun shade sails before hopping back on the bikes.  

3 p.m.: It was only a 10-minute pedal from Broken Compass back to Craniologie were we returned our bikes and headed on our merry way.  

In total, the ride was about 20 miles (10 miles each way), and we had a great time! Admittedly, it’s been hard going back to regular old biking, and we think we’ll be adding e-bikes to our wish lists.  

Ultimate Guide to Wildflowers in Breckenridge

Although the summers are short in Breckenridge, they sure are sweet. From mid-June to August, you can witness a stunning array of colors as Colorado wildflowers come to life and blanket the mountains and valleys.