Durango White Water Rafting with Mild To Wild Rafting
On a fun filled vacation to Southern Colorado, one of the highlights was a Durango white water raft trip with Mild to Wild. Mild to Wild offers a variety of fun things to do in Durango and we decided to take what they refer to as the "economy" raft trip down the Lower Animas River. The economy trip was perfect for us because we had an afternoon tee time - this trip is a total of two hours with one hour on the river and it departs early in the morning. The next choice was whether to try inflatable kayaks or a raft or maybe even a paddle board. The kayaks sounded more exciting and fun but when they said that there was a good probability of flipping or at least getting wet - which sounds fun! - and the water is 40 degrees and the air temperature at 9 will be around 60, the decision was easy, "we'll take the raft."
The rafts are 15 foot self-bailing rafts with room for up to 8 adventurous rafters plus a guide. Again you have some options on what type of raft you want to float the river on and we chose a paddle raft where everyone helps paddle rather than the oar raft where the guide navigates with oars from the back of the raft. Normally in early June the Lower Animas River flows around 2000 cubic feet per second, but thanks to the drought and a very limited snowfall during the winter, the river was flowing around 320. Which means we would have a few class II rapids and one class III rapid and a very relaxing, enjoyable, dry, and scenic trip - and it was all of that.
We arrived promptly at 8:00 ready to hit the river and have some fun. Within minutes I had bought one of their cool tee-shirts (be prepared, their store has some really cool outdoor gear), got fitted for a helmet and a life jacket, grabbed a paddle, and boarded the bus ready to go. The staff at Mild to Wild was really friendly, outgoing, and efficient and after a short bus ride we arrived at our put-in spot, unloaded the rafts, received some instructions and warnings, got assigned to a boat and guide, and jumped in our raft and set off down the river.
For the next hour while we slacked off and enjoyed the ride with our paddles in our laps, our guide Jeb paddled us gently down the river, carefully bounced us off the boulders, skillfully navigated down the best part of the rapids, and gave us lots of interesting information about rafting in the area, the Animas River, the history of Durango, and some recommendation on restaurants and bars!
The scenery was beautiful - cool clear cold water, boulders glistening in the middle of the river, towering trees along the bank, the railroad bridge just as the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Train was passing by, and the historic town of Durango. And some guy who fell out of his kayak floating in the 40 degree water and having fun - turns out he was from Sweden which is why he wasn't shivering! All too soon it was time to get off the river. What a great trip. I do wish it had been a white knuckle, water in your face, big monster rapids trip - maybe next time.
Mild to Wild offers a number of other things do to in Colorado, as well as Arizona and Utah, some of which include:
- longer raft trips down the Animas River as well as two other nearby rivers, most of which are suitable for ages 4 to 84
- Jeep tours to Durango's La Plata Canyon to see waterfalls, cascading rivers, lots of wildlife, an old mining town, and more
- several combination trips like rafting the Animas and riding the scenic narrow gauge Durango to Silverton Train