A record number of rafters floated Colorado’s waterways last year, spurring a banner year for the rafting industry and the communities that host river-running vacationers.
The Colorado River Outfitters Association on Thursday said rafting companies hosted 550,861 commercial guests on 29 stretches of rivers in 2016. Those guests spent more than $70 million in Colorado, stirring an estimated economic impact of nearly $180 million in the state’s riverside communities.
“When people come to Colorado to spend their vacation, we are seeing more people thinking, ‘Hey, we ought to raft before we go home.’ Fifteen, 20 years ago, people didn’t think about rafting as much. They thought maybe it sounded a little bit too far beyond them. Now, outfitters are catering to a larger demographic and more families, and they are pushing into gentler water,” said David Costlow, the head of the outfitters association.