smelter with kids_smEl Rio de Los Animas—the river of lost souls—is the heart of Durango. It winds its way through town, and both locals and tourists alike are draw to its beautiful waters. The river changes drastically throughout the year, but from late spring well into the summer, the river is perfect for rafting.

There are a number of companies that offer raft trips in Durango, and they’re all great. The guides are often Durango locals, or people who’ve moved to Durango to be near the river. They know a lot about town and can offer great tips about where to grab a bite after your trip, or how to spend the rest of your time in Durango in order to best take advantage of all that the city and the surrounding area have to offer.

raftOn the river, the beginning of the trip offers a calm, winding tour through North Durango. At an especially mellow point in the river, known locally as “the beach”, passengers are invited to jump off and swim along side the raft for a bit. Water-fights commence between other rafts and tubers (usually locals, floating down on tire tubes). Back in the boat, the river picks up its pace and the fun –well, more fun— begins.

The rest of the ride offers medium to large sized rapids in quick succession, and those in front are definitely getting wet. The ride climaxes at Smelter rapid, which backs up to the Durango landmark Smelter Mountain. Onlookers perch themselves on the park side of the rapid to watch. Photographers also snap shots of rafts going through the biggest rapids, which are available for purchase after the trip.

After Smelter there are two ‘holes’ that offer an exciting ride, and then another calm strip before the ride ends about 5 miles south of town. Back on the bus riders laugh and share stories from their trip all the way back to Durango. There’s no better ending to a raft trip than a local brew—and Carvers, Steamworks and Ska all offer excellent food and beer in family environments.

Compare Whitewater Rafting Options Below: