Commercial rafting remained a strong economic driver in Colorado’s high country last year with the state’s outfitters logging more than a half million user days for the sixth time in a decade.
The 508,728 commercial raft trips on 29 stretches of Colorado rivers generated $162.6 million in economic impact in 2015, setting a new record just above the economic benefit estimated for the 2014 season.
Rafting outfitters are thinking the coming season will be about the same, thanks largely to the snowy April that bolstered alpine snowpacks and the recent cool weather keeping that snow from melting too early.
“We don’t want the melt to start until the crowds get here,” said David Costlow, executive director of the Colorado River Outfitters Association, which released its annual user report on Thursday.
The Arkansas River from above Buena Vista through Salida to Cañon City remains the state’s powerhouse. Traffic was up 3 percent on the most-rafted stretch of river in the country, with 197,000 user days in 2015. This created an overall economic impact of $62.5 million in Chaffee and Fremont counties.