How to Sustainably Raft the Upper Colorado River

Posted by on Mar 6, 2024 in conservation, Uncategorized
How to Sustainably Raft the Upper Colorado River

The Upper Colorado River winds through the picturesque landscapes of Colorado, offering adventurers an unparalleled experience on one of America’s most magnificent landmarks. As outdoor enthusiasts, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our adventures leave minimal impact on the environment.  

river in Colorado

The Colorado River has a rich history of conservation efforts and remains an important, protected natural resource. In this guide, we’ll explore sustainable practices that can be implemented when rafting the Upper Colorado River, allowing us to enjoy its beauty while preserving it for future generations.  

Understand the Ecosystem 

Before embarking on our rafting journey, it’s essential to understand the delicate ecosystem of the Upper Colorado River and its varied terrain and segments. This river is not just a waterway; it’s a lifeline for countless species of plants and animals that call its banks home. By familiarizing ourselves with the flora and fauna of the area, we can better appreciate the significance of preserving its natural balance. 

three people wading through river


Choose Eco-Friendly Gear

When gearing up for our rafting adventure, opt for sustainable practices. For example, it is much more eco-friendly to rent your rafting equipment than to purchase new rafts or paddles. Additionally, consider investing in reusable water bottles and bring your own reusable bags or Tupperware for snacks. 

Practice Leave No Trace Principles 

The Leave No Trace principles serve as a guide for minimizing our impact on the environment while enjoying outdoor activities. When rafting the Upper Colorado River, here are some ways to be mindful of these principles:

Pack out all trash: Bring a waterproof bag to collect any waste generated during your trip, including food wrappers, plastic bottles, and other debris. 

Minimize campfire impact: If camping along the riverbanks, use designated fire rings or portable stoves to minimize the impact on vegetation and wildlife. Read even more about campfire safety. 

cooking on river

Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance, avoiding any actions that may disturb or endanger them. Keep a respectful distance and refrain from feeding or approaching animals. 

Stay on designated trails: When exploring on foot, stick to established trails to avoid trampling sensitive vegetation and disrupting wildlife habitats. 

Leave natural objects untouched: Resist the temptation to collect souvenirs such as rocks, plants, or artifacts. Leave natural objects as you found them to preserve the integrity of the ecosystem. 

Practice Responsible Camping 

If planning an overnight rafting trip along the Upper Colorado River, practice responsible camping techniques to minimize your impact on the environment. Choose established campsites whenever possible, as they are equipped with amenities such as fire rings, toilets, and designated tent sites. When setting up camp, avoid disturbing vegetation and wildlife habitats, learn how to wildlife proof your campsite, and be mindful of your surroundings. 

kid smiling from kayak

Conserve Water 

Water is a precious resource, especially in arid environments like the Upper Colorado River basin. Practice water conservation techniques during your rafting trip by: 

Using water efficiently: Limit water usage for activities such as washing dishes, bathing, and cooking. Use biodegradable soap and wash dishes away from the river to prevent contamination. 

Collecting and treating  water responsibly: If sourcing water from natural sources such as streams or rivers, use a filtration system or purification tablets to ensure it’s safe for consumption. Avoid using chemical-based water treatments that can harm aquatic life. 

man using water filter in river

Pack out waste: Dispose of wastewater properly by packing it out in sealed containers and disposing of it at designated facilities. Use a groover, and do not dump wastewater directly into the river, as it can pollute water sources and harm aquatic ecosystems. 

Support Local Conservation Efforts 

Those looking to make an impact past their river experience can get involved in local conservation efforts aimed at preserving the Upper Colorado River and its surrounding ecosystems. Volunteer with organizations dedicated to river conservation, participate in clean-up events, and support initiatives aimed at protecting wildlife habitats and water quality. By actively engaging in conservation efforts, we can make a meaningful impact on the health and vitality of the river for future generations to enjoy. 

river in Colorado with rocky cliffsides

Some notable organizations include Colorado Water Trust, River Watch of Colorado, and Colorado Trout Unlimited.

Rafting the Upper Colorado River offers unparalleled opportunities for adventure and exploration amidst some of Colorado’s most breathtaking landscapes. However, it’s essential to approach these adventures with a mindset of environmental stewardship and sustainability.

By implementing eco-friendly practices such as Leave No Trace principles, responsible camping, and water conservation techniques, we can enjoy the beauty of the river while preserving it for generations to come.

Rent your raft equipment with Colorado River Rentals to minimize consumer impact, or join us for a guided rafting trip to learn more about the magnificent Upper Colorado River.