- Telluride is close to the whitewater-rich San Miguel, Gunnison and Dolores Rivers.
- Tour companies offer single, overnight and weeklong trips.
- The Telluride rafting season begins in May and can last into October.
Telluride is close to three major whitewater rafting rivers, each with unique scenery and varying degrees of difficulty. Spring runoff sparks the rivers in April and prime rafting season begins in May and can last into October. Fortunately, the rivers are primarily on public land, allowing overnight and even weeklong camping trips along the river’s banks.
Where to go Whitewater Rafting
San Miguel River
The 90-mile San Miguel River makes its way through Telluride then cuts down valley through steep red-walled canyons before spilling into the Dolores River. The river has Class II-IV rapids with several different entrance and exit spots. The wide variety of rapids means trips down the San Miguel can be catered toward hardcore rafters or families looking for a leisurely float down the river.
The Dolores is best in early May through mid June and is better suited for multi-day trips. Most trips feature gentle Class II-III rapids through sandstone cliffs and beach campsites alongside the river.
The Gunnison River has Class II-IV rapids and is home to the Gunnison Gorge, one of the most famous rafting sections in Colorado. The 14-mile stretch cuts through the Black Canyon National Forest and its sheer, narrow-cut canyons. There are one to three days trips offered on the Gunnison, and the best season is mid May through early October.
Guided Tours & Rentals
There are numerous rafting tour companies based in Telluride, and it’s a good idea to explore the different options as different companies travel to different river sections.