• 06/24/2024

    Adrenaline Rush Rafting on Clear Creek in Colorado

    July 18, 2023
    1 Comment
    Clear Creek Class VI Rapids

    Great snowpack and summer runoff are making for great rafting this year in Colorado. On a recent weekend, we made the easy drive to Idaho Springs just west of Denver to seek that downhill liquid thrill from the snow we finished skiing upon just a couple of months ago.

    On Clear Creek the water comes right off the Continental Divide and was a cool 46 degrees, so wet suits were required. Following a strong safety brief and specific paddling instruction we were on the rushing river pronto. Our spunky river guide synchronized our paddle strokes (two forward, one back) and instantly made a bunch of raft strangers an instantaneous team. We shared Colorado hometowns and cracked some jokes as we prepared to shoot class VI rapids in succession.

    The first couple series of rapids were easier class III, a nice warmup for what was coming next. A few twists and turns keeping footing secure and leaning the right way with everyone working together. We laughed and cheered in raft unity.

    For the next 30 minutes we shot through a series of adrenaline pumping and heart-pounding class VI rapids called double knife, terminator and hells corner. At hells corner, one team mate almost leaned outta the raft to be saved by great teamwork and guide instruction. Nothing like pulling together through twists and turns and the continously splashing of 46 degree water!

    Finally we pulled over and got out of the raft to climb up and then jump off a large rock into the cold water to float feet first through a short easy rapids. Talk about getting literally right into nature!

    We finished up with a couple of easy class III finally slapping our paddles together in celebration of sheer victory over conquering the river! A great bus ride back with stories and jokes and just a lot of fun.

    So get outside this summer Colorado. We live in a great state for recreation. Don't miss this summer's Colorado adventure!



    Jim Zietlow

    Colonel Jim Zietlow, USAF retired, is a US Air Force Academy graduate, served as a T-38 and T-41 Instructor Pilot and worldwide as a C-5 Instructor Pilot and Flight Examiner. He served as a C-5/C-17 Program Manager at the Pentagon followed by a special assignment to the Secretary of the Air Force, Office of US Congressional Legislative Liaison, Weapon Systems Division during the 9/11/2001 era. Following 9/11, Jim transferred to HQ NORAD USNORTHCOM in their Homeland Defense and Civil Support missions serving as a Program Manager, Military Plans Branch Chief culminating his military career as HQ NORAD USNORTHCOM Command Center Director. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, or its components.
    Notify of

    1 Comment
    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments

    The thrill of near death experiences in Colorado. I've had quite enough of those. These days we maintain a 'no airborne' policy. If any activity may require, even if by accident or circumstance for us to become airborne or not have feet on solid ground, we pass that over for something safer. The other day we managed to actually go fishing for twenty minutes and lost four fishing lures, one per person. Then we gave it up and lounged on a picnic bench, drank juice drinks and ate beef jerky in the cool breeze. You be careful on the rapids, all it takes is one mistake. Happens every single year, some tragedy on the river somewhere in this state, every single year. Be careful and stay prepared. For your average person wanting to adventure in Colorado, seriously, hold on the rafting until you're in peak physical shape with emergency situation water and rapids training, having carefully scaled up to that level of expertise on much easier waters. Otherwise pass for something less dangerous. At some point in the future there needs to be better safety inventions for recreational purposes. I've imagined something like a portable mini rebreather type apparatus where if submerged, one could simply pop in a breather which is attached to the life vest and always right there at your chest next to your face, and one could survive those few minutes necessary to either be rescued or get past the worst of the currents, if one survives the churn.

    Follow Us

  • Delivering high-interest Colorado news you need to know RIGHT NOW from real people reporting honest, accurate, truthful, and fair facts that are thought-provoking, intriguing and even fun to read!
    © Copyright 2024 - Colorado Free Press