The Upper Colorado
The upper Colorado River is overflowing with history and beautiful views.Starting at Pumphouse and ending at Rancho this stretch of river is great for fishing or family trips. You can expect rapids from class II to III. If you're lucky you may even see some wildlife. There are also lots of great campsites along the river, most of which you can only get to from the water. If you're looking for a fun, beautiful, beginner stretch of river to get your toes wet in whitewater then the upper C is where you need to be.
It starts as a whisper. Sometimes in January, sometimes not until May. But always, every year, someone is the first to mention it. We watch as the water levels climb slowly, then climb quickly, then start to dwindle. Then, the Clear Creek Intermediate stretch stops running, and we know it's close. And then, we watch the river gauge through July, knowing that it's coming. Finally, around the third week in July, it finally arrives. The Colorado River Gauge at Gore canyon drops below 1300 CFS, and it's official. Gore season has started!
Camping in Colorful Colorado
Colorado is a campers paradise. Just step outside your tent and you can be surrounded by beautiful views. Most of Colorado is just about bug free do to its dry weather, which is an added bonus to making camping more enjoyable. Colorado was the first state I was able to sleep out under the stars and not get eaten alive. However Kremmling CO has the greatest amount of mosquitoes I have ever experienced, and I'm from Minnesota which is the mosquito capital.
There are hundreds of free off the grid camp site all over the state. If you're lucky enough to come to Colorado in early fall, I recommend checking out the Idaho Springs area. All of the leaves are changing colors and and it's amazing. In the mountains the "fall" season is very quick, the leaves turn colors and fall off in a matter of a week so you have a small window of time to change this magnificent site. Meanwhile down in Denver the leaves could just be starting to change colors, while up in the mountains they have already fallen off.
Winter park Colorado.
Hiking Gore Canyon
Gore Canyon not only has Class 5 whitewater rapids on the Colorado River but a gnarly hike along the canyon! The trailhead is at the Pumphouse put-in for our whitewater trips on the Upper Colorado River. When I'm not working at Adventures in Whitewater I spend my free time traveling around Colorado and trying to see those unique views you don't get from the postcards. Gore Canyon trail definitely came through because I've never hiked a trail like it! You start out right along the water and end up fairly high above the river. It was a very narrow path and at times right along the edge of a cliff like the photo above. I went about two miles in before turning back but I can't wait to go back for more hiking (and rafting!)
Living in a van is definitely not for everyone. For some it is their way of life, nothing beats a full tank of freedom and the open road.
Showers for some, are an everyday necessity. Not when you live in a van, showers are few and far between. Usually if we're lucky we find a shower every 3 days or so, however there has been longer periods of time without. In those cases you are so thankful for some warm running water. Living in a van has taught me a lot about what is actually important and necessary in life. For instance you don't need 20 pairs of shoes and 50 matching outfits. What is important is food and happiness. If you learn to enjoy the simple things in life happiness will come to you.
Meals in the van consist of lots of cans; chicken, tuna, vegetables, and soups. Some other favorites are PBJs, tuna sandwiches, rice, pastas, and good ole Ramon noodles. You may wonder how all of this could be worth it? How can you live in your vehicle and survive without a daily shower and a microwave? We actually have noticed that we are so much happier now days and less stressed. One of our favorite sayings is, "We've got nowhere to be and all day to get there". Imagine quitting your job, selling/donating everything you own and moving into a van with your dog and boyfriend of 3 years with no plans of where and what your going to do..... Sounds crazy right!? Well that's just what we did about 5 months ago and we haven't looked back. Being able to go anywhere and see everything has been an amazing experience. We usually camp out in Walmart parking lots because its the most convenient and its FREE. Which is most important when you're budgeting for van life. We have gotten very good at finding free things to do such as; free camping spots, dog parks, hiking trails, swimming and some free museums. If we ever run low on funds we simply find a town we'd like to stay in for a month or so and work until we can leave and continue on our travels. So far we've milked cows in Minnesota for a month. Now working at Adventures in Whitewater for the season.
Our actual plan is to try and hit every state so we can decide where we would like to live. we plan to end our trip with hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
So far we have gone through; Minnesota, Wisconsin, South and North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. After we finish out the summer in Colorado we are heading back west to see Oregon then work our way south. If you are thinking about doing something like this or even just a long road trip, make sure you pick your fellow roadtrippers carefully. Remember you will be in a confined space for hours on end with this person. Luckily Chris and I haven't killed each other yet.
Check out some of our adventures below!
Pictured above, Williams Fork Reservoir. Near Parshall, Colorado.
Pictured above, Hole in the Wall, Outlaw Hideout. Kaycee, Wyoming.
My favorite place so far. Hiking in Olympia, Washington.
Somewhere in Montana. Moments before Chris's longboard wipeout where he ripped most of his skin off and fractured his wrist. I was driving the van going 55 mph just to keep up.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
Or.. as some like to call it Kremmtucky.
Kremmling has a little something for everyone. Located right between Winter Park and Steamboat Springs it makes for a nice pit stop as you are surrounded by cliffs and beautiful mountain ranges. Bring your kids, grandparents, and dogs; you are sure to have a great time. Hike to the top of the cliffs to get a magnificent view of the whole town.
Looking to get on the Colorado river? We've got you covered; come rafting with Adventures in Whitewater for a grand time with the whole family. Can't get enough, we also do overnight camping trips right on the river for a full Colorado experience. If you are just passing through, maybe stop and relax at the city park, located conveniently next to the drive through liquor store. Kremmling also has a few restaurants and bars for all you foodies to check out. Seriously you should be here.
Fun fact the Grand Canyon was named after the Grand river. Which is what the Colorado river was originally named because the mouth of the river starts in Grand County and runs 1,450 through the Grand Canyon and to the Gulf of California.
To be a CREECH
Not everyone can guide for AW. Of course there are the high standards of guiding, the long hours, and the close proximity to other staff through the duration of the summer. Because of this, we have developed a team of misfits, who all share on goal- to bring you on the best rafting trips, ever.
Our most senior guide, and without doubt the most experienced guide in the company, is Eric Creech. My first experience with this fine example of a guide was during my guide training- five years ago. I clearly remember a man who was harsh, abrasive even, towards his students. I only took three days of training with Creech, but to this day I credit him as the guide that taught me how it was done.
My most vivid memory of training with Creech was not from when I was being trained by him. I was with another guide, struggling to learn to maneuver a boat on the Arkansas river at low water, when I look over and see Creech's training boat being pulled over by none other than Creech himself. Apparently, the trainees failed to follow his directions, hit a rock sideways, didn't highside, and their trainer did what we call "closed the coffin"- pulled the boat over sideways by hand.
Fast forward three years to 2016- my partner Justin and I were hanging around the boathouse in Kremmling, when none other than Creech walked in, mentioning that due to a medical concern he could no longer guide class IV like he has been doing for likely 75 years, and was going to have to switch to a more beginner friendly river. So, we hired him on to guide the Upper Colorado River- one of our most popular trips- and now he is one of the main trip leaders out of our Kremmling location.
I remember one day last year I rode along one of his trips on the Upper C, and let me tell you, I have honestly not had that much fun on a beginner raft trip in my life. So come check out a raft trip guided by a true professional, and ask for Creech as your guide!
The Yampa Race
Every year during the first weekend in June, the Friends of the Yampa in Steamboat Springs, Colorado hosts a river festival. During this, there is a downriver raft race. Last year, in 2016, we went up there with almost all our staff, and entered two boats into this race. With hard work, and some solid guiding by Justin, we managed to clinch a time good enough to score first place.
This year, we decided we needed to go back for more. We put a crew together, but the day before the race we had one of the biggest trips in AW history. So, come Saturday morning, everyone was so tired they didn't have it in them to race. The only two that were feeling up to it were myself and one of our trainers, Johnny. We used an idea that the group came up with the previous night to try to allow a group of two to be competitive in the race.
Basically, we attached two stern mount oarframes to one of our 13' boats facing each other. This would allow one guide to pull, while the other pushed and steered the boat. With registration closing at 12:30, we left Kremmling at 11:48 for a one hour drive to Steamboat. We arrived at the festival a little after 1:00PM, and were told at the registration tent that registration had closed, and we would have to try to drive up to the put-in at Fletchers pond, and ask if we would be able to get on there.
We parked at the put-in, and hurried up to talk to the race coordinator, Ken, who remembered us from last year, and told us we would definitely be able to race. We paid our entry fees ($20! Friends of the Yampa Rock!!), and went about putting air in the boat. We drew numbers out of a hat to determine the race's start order. We got #6, and selected our team name- "The Bowless Boyz"- a pun on our boat not having a real bow and stern (front and back).
As the race had a sprint start, we lined up 6th in a long line of 17 boats that were participating, and waited for our turn to launch. The referee started us, and we sprinted carrying our boat 200 feet towards the Yampa River. We shoved the boat into the water, and got in, finding ourselves already in the bushes because we gave the boat too big of a shove starting off. We got to our seats, found the current, and began pulling the boat down river. During the briefing for the race, we were told multiple times to make sure we went to the right when the river forked,as there was a bridge that was not passable at the current water level. We were moving at a full sprint, making sure to veer right at all of the islands, when I heard Johnny tell me there was a bridge coming up. I looked over my shoulder to see a bridge that didn't look quite tall enough for our boat to make it under. We looked each other in the eyes, and decided we were going to try for it anyways.
We pulled under the bridge, and the oars had maybe an inch of spare room above them, but we made it! We continued downriver, starting to feel the effects on our muscles of nearly 20 minutes of full steam rowing. Then I hear Johnny tell me he can see the finish line. We put as much muscle as we could into the oars, and pulled in strong to Charlie's Hole- sending the boat almost vertical as we slammed into it!
After the race, we heard them announce the results- First place went to our main competition, with us finishing about 40 seconds behind them. We went over to congratulate the winners, and pick up our second place trophy(nothing), and headed back to Kremmling!
We will be back next year to try again for first place!
Within the last week, Adventures in Whitewater launched it's first commercial overnight of the 2017 season. This also happened to be our first ever commercial overnight on one of my favorite stretches of river- the mighty North Platte!
As one of the staff of this overnight, I got the opportunity to guide a boat down this stretch, and take part in the festivities that are included in the overnight trips.
We all met at the put-in at 11:30, and got everyone outfitted. We set each guest up with a wetsuit, PFD, and helmet, and got on the river. Now, due to snow on the road to our normal takeout, we had to cut the normal trip duration in half- we did a 10.5 mile stretch instead of an 18 mile stretch. This allowed us to take our time- we camped right by the river at a campsite I've started calling "forest". We unloaded the gear boat
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