What a fun ride! The Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Royal Gorge are absolutely gorgeous!
We had booked this trip earlier in the summer after we went on the family rafting trip in July. We waited to complete our diet so we could have more energy. That was a good move.
Our trip started about 10:00 AM in the Bighorn Sheep Canyon part of the Arkansas river. We checked in early at River Runners and got our gear (helmet, wetsuit, life jacket, and splash jacket). Due to the cloudy weather and small group, they let us use the wetsuit, booties and splash jacket for no extra charge. They started with a safety chat and confirmed everyone could swim. Another group of seven was also booked on the all-day trip. This worked out great for us as we got our very on boat and guide (Troll aka Brian). He must have gotten that name for the way he puts that raft in tiny spaces between big rocks and lots of of rushing water! Anyway, that means you are not sharing the load with 5 or 6 paddlers but with 2 paddlers and a steering oarsman. But still, our own boat!
The rapids are rated on difficulty and danger in numbers of 1 to 5 (higher means more difficult and dangerous). Bighorn Sheep Canyon rapids rate 2 and 3, but there are lots on this particular stretch of the river. That makes it perfect for warming you up to ride the 3’s and 4’s in the gorge!
When we stopped for lunch our guide told us we better put more into paddling when we get to the Royal Gorge. I know why after having been through it. You’re paddling hard because you really need to.
The Royal Gorge is spectacular and beautiful! It’s walls are over 1000 feet high! They are so colorful and interesting. There are lots of rapids and the river goes downhill very fast!
When you get to the place when the bridge is overhead, it’s amazingly high, so much that it looks like a ribbon stretched across the canyon. You’re also busy watching the river, as this is not a leisurely float trip but when you do get a calm spot it’s really nice and peaceful just floating along with the current.
As soon as you get a look at the bridge over 1050 feet overhead you’re back in it and going through the ‘narrows’ rapids! No matter what, don’t bump the steel rails sticking out of the wall from the old railroad or risk tearing your raft.
This was an awesome experience for us and I’m looking forward to more adventures!