blog: All Forward: Dave’s Whitewater blog |

blog: All Forward: Dave’s Whitewater blog

David Dempsey
Vail CO, Colorado

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Vail Valley is more than just a great ski town.

In fact, I would argue that the Vail Valley is to whitewater what it is to skiing ” a world class destination. I feel like this aspect of our area is maybe a little bit downplayed. For this reason, I wanted to share some of my experience on our local rivers with you by creating a whitewater oriented blog.

I’d like to start out by letting you know a little bit about me.

I’ve been a river rat for about six years now, give or take. I started out as a kayaker, albeit not a very good one, and learned my way around the rocks of the Eagle and Colorado Rivers by scraping my head over them upside down in my kayak.

A year or two later, I had the chance to teach a friend of mine, Paul, how to kayak in exchange for him teaching me how to guide rafts. Paul was a pro guide in Oregon on some class IV+ type water, so I was able to learn a lot from him.

One day, I decided that I wanted to go rafting every day, so I quit my job and became a professional whitewater guide with Lakota. That was one of the best career choices I ever made; my former employer went out of business a month or two after I left. I have since started my own business, but I still pick up a shift guiding here and there.

I am not a class V guide, nor a member or the men’s national team, or by any means the most experienced or badass guide around. I’m basically your run of the mill river rat who loves to be out in the rapids. What I lack in experience, I try to make up for by learning from experienced people, and being plugged in to the whitewater community.

Hopefully, I can pass along some of the things I learn to you, and who knows, maybe I will inspire some other working stiff to quit his job and go rafting every day, even if only for a season.

Keep checking in, and maybe you will learn why I think Western Colorado should be its own state, how to choose a good raft trip, or what kind of training guides go through.

I’d like to address some of the press on the recent tragedies on the river, and tell you about a guy who bet the whitewater community he couldn’t paddle 95 miles in 18 hours.

There is more than I will ever be able to cover, but I will try to keep you posted on the best stories and informative topics that I come across. SYOTR (That’s blog speak for “See You On The River”)

David Dempsey can be reached at

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