NewsLocal News


'A gem of a river': After 3-year hiatus, Colorado's Blue River opens to commercial rafting for limited time

Blue River_Performance Tours Rafting
Posted at 11:45 AM, Jun 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-16 16:17:55-04

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — Above-average snowpack and plenty of spring precipitation has led to the first commercial rafting season on a Colorado river in three years.

The Denver Water Board projected increased flows for the Blue River from the Dillon Reservoir, which is full, means commercial rafting can return for the first time since the summer of 2020.

However, there's no promise this kind of rafting will be available for long. Current predictions indicate the Blue River can handle commercial rafting trips for about two weeks, meaning it will come to a halt at the end of June.

BlueRiver_Performance Tours Rafting

The river offers moderate-level whitewater rafting through the scenic Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. It includes some class 3 rapids in Boulder Canyon.

One of the rafting companies taking advantage of this rare opportunity is Performance Tours Rafting. It is planning to begin running two tours a day — starting at 9:30 a.m. and again at 1:15 p.m. — from Pioneer Sports in Frisco starting on June 16. The tours are typically under two hours. The company said the Blue River is ideal for anybody over the age of 7 years old and over 50 pounds.

Kevin Foley is the president of Performance Tours Rafting, which he owns with his wife.

After 3-year hiatus, Blue River opens to commercial rafting for limited time

Foley explained that sometimes the Blue River offers a long rafting season, but other years, there is no rafting at all.

"Unexpectedly this year, it looks like we'll get access for a few weeks," he said.

He said the recent rain in both the mountains and Front Range means Denver doesn't need to pipe as much water downhill to the city, allowing Dillon Reservoir to fill up.

The last time commercial rafting was allowed on the Blue River was the summer of 2020, and that was only a few days. Before that, 2019 was the last relatively full season, Foley said.

He called the Blue River "a gem of a river."

"The Blue is a great stretch of river for a few reasons," he explained. "It's easily accessible. In Summit County, you can get to the Blue River access points within 20 minutes from Frisco in 10 minutes. And the run itself is a third- to a half-day trip. You're on the river for a little over an hour and 15 minutes."

The tours will continue as long as flows stay above 500 cubic feet per second.

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.