Telluride is an outdoor lover’s dream, with four full seasons of outdoor adventure just waiting to be explored.
As a Colorado mountain town, Telluride offers robust winter activities, including skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and more. But don’t think that Telluride is only good for a winter visit; quite the opposite, actually.
True outdoor enthusiasts visit the mountains in the summer when the snow has melted and revealed a beautiful hidden wonderland. Colorado in the summer is prime time to explore via a hike or mountain biking or to enjoy the sights and sounds of the San Miguel River.
While kayaking and paddleboarding are great for more casual and relaxing water exploration, thrill-seekers won’t want to miss the opportunity to enjoy white water rafting—an exciting and challenging watersport.
Learn more about white water rafting near Telluride, and check out our top recommendations on rafting guides.
What is White Water Rafting?
White water rafting involves traveling down a river or moving body of water in an inflatable raft. Riders control the boat and navigate obstacles with paddles. The roughness of the water determines the level of difficulty and is rated on a scale of I to VI with I being the easiest and VI being the most challenging.
Where to go White Water Rafting Near Telluride?
Telluride offers no shortage of options for rafting enthusiasts and beginners alike. The San Miguel River provides ample routes and courses for rafters of all experience levels. The fast-moving river navigates through red rock walls and stunning mountain forestry for a thrilling and scenic journey. The river also supports a diverse ecosystem of animals including hundreds of species of birds, fish, reptiles, mammals, and more—many of which you can see during a raft tour.
The river near Telluride offers moderate-level rafting, averaging a Class II – Class III rating. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, though, select sections do offer Class III and IV rated adventures. The Class IV rapids at Upper Piedra are a fan favorite!
Telluride White Water Rafting Companies
Wondering where to book a white water rafting trip? Check out these top-rated Telluride companies.
4 Corners Whitewater—Telluride
Address: 223 E Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435
Phone: (970) 259-4608
Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Daily
4 Corners is the premier rafting purveyor for trips down the San Miguel River in Telluride, Colorado. Locally owned and operated, 4 Corners provides the complete white water rafting experience. Trips plunge down the mountain and weave through the scenic Norwood canyons with an average Class III rating—making these trips best for moderate rides. The small rafts offered are best-in-class and designed for maximum maneuverability. Trips include all equipment needed, a safety orientation and launch assistance, and a tour through the biggest rapids of Three Wise Men and Sawpit. Rates start at $89/person for half-day trips and $200/person for full-day trips.
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Address: 121 W Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435
Phone: (800) 831-6230
Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Daily
Variety is the spice of life at Telluride Outside, a premier white water rafting company with a wide array of travel options for riders of any experience or budget. Explore either the San Miguel River or the Dolores River for a half-day or full-day river adventure. Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, book a multiple-day trip and explore the vast Colorado wilderness. Pricing for the single-day trips starts at $100/person for the easier ‘lower river’ trip (class II-III) and $125/person for the more advanced ‘upper river’ (class III+). All-day trips with Telluride Outside include transportation, splash water suits, river shoes, snacks, and beverages.
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Address: 650 Mountain Village Blvd, Telluride, CO 81435
Phone: (970) 728-8954
Hours: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Daily
Conveniently headquartered in the heart of Mountain Village, Bootdoctors is your one-stop-shop for outdoor activities and equipment—including white water rafting. They offer several rafting options suitable for everyone from beginners to experts—and everyone in between. The “all-day historical float” is a great, casual rafting option for beginners and riders looking for a fun and easy adventure, while the “San Miguel Action Deep Creek” ride features III and IV-level currents and challenges for experienced adventurers. Pricing varies greatly by rafting trip length and group size, please call or check the website for reservations and updated pricing.
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Address: 456 Mountain Village Blvd, Telluride, CO 81435
Phone: (970) 728-4475
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Daily
Explore Colorado’s wilderness with a certified rafting expert when you book with Telluride Outfitters. This outdoor adventure agency specializes in guided tours through remote areas of the San Juan Mountains and ensures a fun and safe adventure for all participants. The river rafting trip takes between 2-3 hours depending on weather and river conditions and includes splash gear, PFD, and river booties. Pricing starts at $145 per person plus taxes and fees. Private rafting charters are also available.
White Water Rafting FAQs
New to white water rafting? Check out our roundup of frequently asked questions.
Is white water rafting safe?
Yes, white water rafting can be a very safe activity, though riders should be aware of the potential risk involved. The good news is that outdoor companies are required to provide full safety training and instructions to all participants, so you will be well versed in how to operate all equipment and how to respond should an incident occur. All riders are also required to wear a provided personal flotation device (PFD) and a helmet. Feel free to reach out to your prospective company in advance to inquire about specific safety concerns.
Is there a minimum age to white water raft?
The minimum age varies per company and is often based on the level of difficulty for each particular course. Some trips can be navigated by rafters as young as 7-8 while others are more appropriate for children 12 and up. Rafting is family-friendly, just be sure to call in advance or check the website if you have children in your group to ensure they are eligible for the adventure.
When is white water rafting season?
In Telluride specifically, visitors can raft the river from May through August, though the conditions are best (water level highest) between Memorial Day and July 4th.
How many people are in a raft at once?
In general, rafts can accommodate between 4-6 riders plus the guide.
Are rafting trips guided?
Yes, white water rafting trips in Telluride include a guide for the adventure.
How long is a rafting trip?
Typically, white water rafting trips are offered in half-day or full-day increments. Times vary per provider, so call or check the website in advance if you have a specific length in mind. Some providers also offer overnight rafting trips.
How much does white water rafting cost in Telluride?
The cost for a white water rafting trip varies per company and is based on trip length and difficulty. In general, expect to pay around $100 per person for a half-day rafting trip.
What should I wear rafting?
You’ll be on the water, so water-safe clothing (like a bathing suit) is highly recommended. Quick-dry shirts, shorts, hats, and water-safe shoes are also great to have on over your bathing suit (cotton not recommended). Sunscreen, SPF lip balm, and bug spray are also great to have on-hand. Do not expensive jewelry or anything of value that cannot get wet.
Do I need to know how to swim?
No, riders are not required to know how to swim. However, this skill is highly recommended for safety and comfort during the trip. Each rafter will wear a personal flotation device (PFD) that is designed to keep afloat in the water.
What do rapid ratings mean?
White water rapids are rated on a scale from Class I through Class VI. This scale communicates the difficulty of a particular course. The scale is as follows:
• Class I: No significant waves or obstacles
• Class II: Rapids with regular waves, clear passages and wide channels.
• Class III: Irregular waves and narrow channels. Maneuvering to avoid obstacles is required.
• Class IV: Intense, but predictable rapids requiring precise maneuvering, with some unavoidable waves and tight passages.
• Class V: Long, and or violent rapids with large drops, unavoidable waves, and tight channels requiring precise maneuvering.
• Class VI: Virtually non-navigable, or navigable only at particularly favorable river levels.
What should I bring rafting?
Aside from your raft-safe clothing, plan on bringing sunscreen, bug spray, SPF lip balm, and bottled water. Expensive or sentimental items (including your cell phone) should be left behind.
Are life vests provided/required?
Yes—life vests are provided and required for the duration of the rafting trip.
Are reservations required to go white water rafting?
While reservations are not required, we highly recommend booking your trip well in advance. White water rafting is a popular summer activity, and spots tend to fill quickly.
There you have it—our quick and easy guide to white water rafting in Telluride.
The Colorado mountains are calling your name—what are you waiting for?