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Racecourse Half-Day Raft Trip

Our most popular half-day raft trip. Two to three hours of Class 2 and 3 rapids, a rollercoaster ride of whitewater thrills. A perfect family adventure at most water levels, the Racecourse is a suitable whitewater raft trip for first-time rafters. At super-high levels, the last rapid of the Racecourse is one of the biggest on the Rio Grande! That doesn't happen every year, and when it does we move younger children to the Orilla Verde section.

Funyak it! For extra thrills at low and medium water levels, paddle your own inflatable one-person or two-person miniature raft, accompanied by a guide. You will get a comprehensive lesson at the beginning of the trip, and you will amaze yourself at the skill with which you learn to negotiate the whitewater. No extra charge.

Many days sell out early. Book your rafting adventure as soon as you can!

WHITEWATER RATING: Class 3 (4 in high water)

RECOMMENDED MINIMUM AGE: 6 (12 in high water, 16 in super-high water

MEET: 9.30 a.m. or 1.30 p.m., Rio Grande Gorge Visitors Center (Hwy 68 in Pilar, between mile markers 28 and 29 - do not put this into GPS, it will take you 30 miles in the wrong direction!). Return to your vehicle 12-12.30 p.m. or 4-4.30 p.m.

SEASON: March to November. (Los Rios rafts earlier and later than any other company.) High water usually late May/early June. Low water has steep, bouldery drops and is more technically challenging. Available 7 days a week.

PRICE: $54 adults, $44 children 12 and under. Does not include tax and federal user fee. Group discount available, extra discount for school and Scout groups.

WE PROVIDE: All rafting and safety equipment including life-jacket, helmet if desired, waterproof jacket and pants, transportation to and from meeting place, snack of chips and salsa, fresh fruit, and cookies. Wetsuit rental $10. Neoprene booties rental $5.

Pack for Your Raft Trip      Meet Your Guides     Rio Grande Information


Will I be in an oar boat or a paddle boat? Most people prefer a paddle boat, where participants power the boat following the guide's instructions. You will be in a paddle boat unless you request an oar boat, where the guide is in full control of the boat and you can choose to paddle or just hang on. Oar boats are not available in low water.

Do I have to know how to swim? We prefer participants to be able to swim, especially in high water. Risk is higher for non-swimmers. You must be able to assist in your own rescue in the event you fall out of the boat.

Am I going to fall out of the boat? It’s possible. We try to avoid it. Good paddling will help keep you in the boat. The average number of people who take an unscheduled swim is probably well below 10%.

Do I have to wear a helmet? Helmets are optional on the Racecourse except at river levels above 3000 cfs (Class 4), when they are mandatory. Helmets are always mandatory for funyaks.

Can you run the Racecourse no matter what the water level is? Yes.

Doesn't the whitewater rating go down in low water? No. The rating is a measure of difficulty, not water. Some rapids are trickier at low water levels.

Is low water boating boring? Not at all. It's not the wet and wild rollercoaster you see on TV – it's more like a wet bumper-car ride. Low-water boating is more technical and more active, and may require people to be more agile. You won't see giant boat-flipping waves crashing over your head; they're gone. The rocks that made those waves and holes are now sticking out of the water. We have to paddle around them, squeeze between them, bounce off of them, often through tight slots and steep drops. It's a lot of fun, especially for kids. Also the water is warmer, and more inviting for a swim at the end of the run. Many people like low water better than high water.

Should I funyak it? Funyaking the Racecourse is a challenge. Some paddling experience (rafting, canoeing, kayaking) is desirable. If you've never paddled before, consider the Lower Gorge full-day in a funyak: the mellow Orilla Verde section in the morning will give you practice before you meet the Class 3 rapids of the Racecourse. We funyak at levels below 800 cfs.

Can my child go if he/she is below the recommended minimum age? Maybe. It's a recommendation, not a rule. If your child is well-grown, adventurous, and a good swimmer, we will consider it. Please phone to discuss it with us.

What if the weather's bad? We don't cancel because of rain: usually it doesn't last long, and let's face it you're going to get wet anyway! Early- and late-season trips are subject to our weather policy: if the predicted high temperature is less than 50 degrees, we give you the option of cancelling at no charge to you. It helps if you can be flexible within a few days so we can choose the most suitable day for boating. The decision is made the day before the trip.

What if the water's high, and I want to take my 6-year-old rafting? When water levels are high enough for us to raise our recommended minimum age on the Racecourse, that means the Orilla Verde section is more exciting too. Our guides will move any group they consider unsuitable for the Racecourse to the Orilla Verde.


The Maze Class 3
Albert Falls Class 3
Eye of the Needle Class 3 (2 in high water)
The Narrows Class 3 (4 in high water)
Dead Foot Falls Class 2+
No Name Rapid Class 2+
Big Rock Class 3+ (4 in high water)
Sleeping Beauty Class 3
Souse Hole Class 3 (4 in high water)


Pack for Your Raft Trip      Meet Your Guides     Rio Grande Information