The Best Whitewater Events to Keep an Eye on This Summer

Whitewater Festivals are an excellent way to cool down during the summer months in Colorado. They can range from crazy parties, to exciting competitions, but they usually include a bit of both. They are a good time whether you are wanting to participate in the river activities, or just hang out on the sidelines and watch. Here are the best Whitewater Festivals to check out this summer (if they actually take place):

CKS Paddlefest: May 28-31, 2021

This is one of the biggest and best River Festivals in the state. Paddlefest takes place in Buena Vista Colorado on the Arkansas river. There will be many different kinds of competitions ranging from rafts to kayaks, and racing to freestyle. There will also be different clinics happening so you can get some instruction on how to get better at whatever it is you are trying to improve. After you get off the river, the party continues! There will be live music and libationsfor all to enjoy. This a family friendly affair though, so feel free to bring the kiddos along for the fun.

Paddlefest 2017 LR047.jpg
Image Courtesy of CKS Paddlefest

Yampa River Festival: Date unknown

This festival of the river takes place in the wonderful little town of Steamboat Colorado right in and near the beautiful Yampa River. While it is usually a 3-day affair, it was unfortunately changed to an online only party last year. Hopefully, it will take place as usual this year. This festival includes the usual competitions and races, but also has a selection of other fun and wacky competitions. Afterward there is live music and an art walk to enjoy.

GoPro Mountain Games: June 10-13, 2021

One of the biggest names in the adventure sports industry also throws one of the biggest and best adventure sports competition and party! This one takes place in Vail Colorado on the fantastic Eagle river as well as the surrounding areas for their non-river competitions. There are many different ways to compete in this Fest, ranging from running, to climbing, river sports, and even dog competitions! This is a great one just to go watch because of the large variety of things to do. Afterwards there is live music and fun for all! There are also free equipment demos going on throughout, so if you are looking to upgrade a piece of gear you will have the chance to try it out first.

Go pro mountain games
Image Courtesy of GoPro Mountain Games

FIBARK: June 17-20

This fest is known as “America’s Oldest and Boldest Whitewater Festival” and has been going on for over 72 years! It is located in Buena Vista Colorado on the gorgeous Arkansas River. This is a four-day fest including almost any river competition you can think of. From racing, to point competitions, to fun wacky river competitions (think cardboard rafts that look like pirate ships). After the fun on the river, there will of course be live music and dancing to be enjoyed by all.

Gorefest: August TBD

This is a bit of a smaller and more extreme festival that you would more than likely only want to go to so you could enjoy the carnage show. This Fest takes place on the Gore Canyon class V section of the Colorado River and features some of the most extreme rapids on the entire river, including the Grand Canyon! There are also a few other competitions like SUP racing, but the main attraction is the race through the canyon that includes rafts and kayaks. If you go to watch at Gore rapid or Tunnel rapid, you are sure to see a lot of river swimming go on! Afterwards, there is a wild party located at the Pumphouse river campground. Parents beware, this is a much smaller and extreme fest that tends to draw a bit of a wilder crowd than the larger more family friendly ones.

Force of nature: Exploring the nine miles of fierce Colorado River rapids that make up The Gore |
Image Courtesy of Sky-Hi News

Alright folks, there ya go! Make some plans, get your gear ready, and I’ll see you out there on the river!