Y’all, we had a BLAST with Echo Canyon River Expeditions.
As a rookie, I was apprehensive about this trip. I thought I was getting in over my head. Pun fully intended. I was convinced I would spend the trip flying through the air and into the Arkansas River. Aaron had gone before, so he tried to reassure me. But he’s taller, stronger and generally less inhibited than me, so… I didn’t believe him!
We chose an advanced group tour through the Royal Gorge in Canon City, which boasts lots of paddling, fast waters and level IV rapids! Aaron and I went with four friends; with our guide, that brought our boat total to seven.
We arrived in Canon City in the morning to check in, sign waivers, and get fitted for helmets and life jackets. They also have wetsuits, if you want. We went in early July, and the water and weather were warm. Our guide said that the 4th of July time-frame is typically when the water gets warm enough to go without a wetsuit. We were advised to wear moisture-wicking fabrics that would dry easily like swimsuits or exercise apparel. I’m a wimp in cold water, but I was never cold. In fact, we were never wet for very long with the sun shining. Please remember your sunscreen! Faces, necks, ears, and, if you’re wearing shorts, the tops of your legs will need it! I’ll also remind you to bring dry clothes, towels, sunglasses, snacks and water. You may want a snack while you’re waiting for your group to head out. For a half-day tour, we were on the water for a few hours, plus we arrived an hour early. That left a lot of time to get hungry. The Royal Gorge location has a restaurant, but if you want something before you go, order early–they’re busy! You can take water bottles on the boat with you.
Around noon, we (and about 30-35 others) boarded a bus to go to our starting location. We got a brief safety run down, as well as general instructions on how to paddle and what to expect on the river. We got off the bus, were assigned a guide, and got ready to go. Our guides checked our life jackets one last time, did their own versions of the safety instructions and reminded us of the basic commands they use. Our guide was Berto, and guys, request him! He was funny, had a lot of little facts about the area and the river, and he was very laid back, so for a first-timer he was great.
We never tipped over, or flew out of the boat. I don’t think they can guarantee that every time; the river changes, weather changes and things happen, but no one in our entire group of 5-6 boats-full had a bad time. I know for certain that all 6 from my boat are eager to go again. It was fun going over some rapids and trying something new, and the Royal Gorge was amazing to see from the river.
We were bussed back to our starting location, and had some lunch at the restaurant. They have photographers lining the shores as you paddle by (and a GoPro on the front of the boat), and you can purchase photos after the trip. Leave your phone in the car. You won’t have service, so unless it’s super waterproof, just leave it. The check-in desk will keep your keys, so you don’t have to take those either.
Just an FYI, the guides do accept tips (though it’s not required), so you may want to bring some cash.
All in all, we had a great time. 10/10! Echo Canyon offers tours for all levels of difficulty and all age ranges (starting at 4-5 years old). They have tours in Canon City through the Royal Gorge and in several mountain areas around Colorado including Vail, Breckenridge, Buena Vista and more.
For more information, you can find them online. You can book your tour on their website, or give them a call to ask questions and find the right trip for you.