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The Colorado River snakes through the Southwest, stretching from La Poudre Pass Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park south to the Gulf of California. As it flows from Colorado to Mexico, this mighty river flows through some of the most scenic places found anywhere. This same river that carved the Grand Canyon is corralled by the Hoover Dam.
Whether you’re planning on spending time in one of the cities alongside the Colorado River or looking for high adventure, you have many options for incorporating the influential river into your travel plans. In the state of Colorado, much of Interstate 70 follows the general course of the river, winding through many of the canyons and valleys along the way.
For those looking for adventure, Colorado River rafting is a favorite activity. A host of local outfitters and professional guides ensure rafters have everything they need for a safe, enjoyable, and memorable journey. Many of the excursions include overnights—camping on the Colorado River is a natural complement to a rafting adventure.
Grand Junction, the heart of wine country, is perched along the river in the Western portion of the state. Visitors and locals alike enjoy the Colorado Riverfront Trail for hiking, biking, and strolling. The relatively flat trail meanders by picnic grounds, wetlands, a botanical garden, and a fishing pier. At the nearby Colorado National Monument, visitors will find a place primed for hiking, rock climbing, and enjoying the scenery. Along the monument’s Rim Rock Drive, which towers above Grand Valley, travelers will find several overlooks where they can stop and admire the river and the other majestic scenes. For some camping on the Colorado River, visitors can make reservations at the Saddlehorn Campground. Back-country camping is also permitted at the national monument.
Visitors can do more than admire the river from afar. With some time spent Colorado River rafting, they can appreciate the water from a whole new vantage point. In the summer when the water is warm, rafters can maneuver the rapids and have a lot of fun in the process. A short drive south of town leads to one of the region’s best places for white-water rafting—Westwater Canyon. This seventeen-mile stretch of river runs through Class III and IV rapids. Several local outfitters, all certified by the Bureau of Land Management, lead Colorado River tours by raft along this scenic stretch of the river.
Ninety miles west of Grand Junction on I-70, Glenwood Springs is another interesting city on the banks of the Colorado River. Strategically located where the river intersects with the Roaring Fork River between Aspen and Vail, the town has been a tourism hotspot for more than a century because of the hot springs and the promise of a relaxing retreat. Today, grand resorts are found along the river, and spas harness the healing properties of the hot springs. If resorts aren’t your thing, a variety of campgrounds, cabins, and motels will fit the bill. Camping on the Colorado River will provide a lot of value for overnight accommodations and a truly memorable backdrop.
Outdoor recreation is readily available in Glenwood Springs, including fly fishing and skiing. Colorado River rafting tours range from high-octane rides along the Class III and IV rapids or calm float trips. At Glenwood Springs Adventure Park, the Canyon Flyer and Swing Shot provide unparalleled views of the river. These thrill rides are just a few of the offerings; visitors also can tour the underground world with tours of the caverns and enjoy the family-friendly attractions, all in view of the river.
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