2023 rafting season shining following record winter in Roaring Fork Valley

A Blue Sky Rafting boat makes its way down the Colorado River.
Taylor Cramer/Post Independent

Following a record winter in the Roaring Fork Valley, the 2023 rafting season has shaped into prime condition for those looking to get out onto the water.

A season that has allowed for those looking for different types of adventure to have the opportunity to do so, the spring season’s runoff has been one that has been unheard of in recent years.

With the Roaring Fork Valley experiencing water levels that have seemed ageless in recent memory, this year’s rivers have provided raft-goers the experience of both soothing waters and the fierce rapids that have made Glenwood Springs and the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley a staple for thrill-seekers and even-tempered explorers alike.

A winter season that produced a record-breaking snowpack in the western region, where those living in the valley saw a 200% increase in median snowpack, according to the United States Natural Resources Conservation Service, Defiance Rafting Owner Gregory Cowan said this year’s conditions are more than he could ask for. 

“It’s been a wonderful start to the season,” e said. “The weather broke at the right time when we started at the beginning of May, and it has made it possible for any level rafter to have the opportunity to enjoy the waters.”

Dealing with a state-wide drought that has lasted a number of years, Middle Colorado Watershed Council Executive Director Paula Stepp said this year’s water levels could very well be considered an anomaly.

“I have lived in this valley a long time, and I haven’t seen these types of water levels since the ’80s,” she said. “Having a great year is amazing to see but by no means does it mean that this drought is over.”

With the high waters surrounding the Roaring Fork Valley, Glenwood Adventure Company CEO Ken Murphy said that this year’s water levels will make for a long season for those looking to indulge in whitewater rafting to have the chance to do so.

“What has made Glenwood Springs so popular for white water rafting is the variety that those looking to participate have been given,” he said. “With these high water levels, we are looking at having a good chance at having a longer season for people to enjoy this community’s waters, but it really depends on how the rest of the summer season shapes out.”

While this season’s high waters continue to look promising for the industry, he says it’s not up to those in control of booking trips.

“It’s a contemplating industry,” he said. “Mother Nature is our boss during the summer season, and so we have to hope everything goes in our favor for the continuation of this season.”

For those looking to find themselves on the river this season, you can learn more by exploring the number of rafting options available at, or

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