Colorado rafting outfitters had record traffic, revenue in 2021. Will it be enough to keep them afloat this summer? | VailDaily.com
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Colorado rafting outfitters had record traffic, revenue in 2021. Will it be enough to keep them afloat this summer?

Colorado outfitters hosted a record 620,000 rafters last summer. But a decimated snowpack promises low flows and fewer crowds in 2022

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun
A raft hits the rapids in the Colorado River inside Glenwood Canyon on July 7, 2021, near Glenwood Springs.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

Colorado’s rafting industry hosted a record number of rafters in 2021, posting its largest annual increase in commercial raft trips, up 44% over the pandemic-hobbled 2020 season.

The Colorado River Outfitters Association counted 619,968 commercial river trips on 20 Colorado rivers last summer, a record 189,793-visit increase from the previous summer.

“These are just staggering numbers, but we saw them coming,” said David Costlow, the director of the Colorado River Outfitters Association who still needs to add counts from five rivers to the total tally and expects the final number to land closer to 625,000.



But outfitters are hoping the boom from the pandemic rebound can float them through this summer, with a meager snowpack and more travel options for vacationers.

The rafting crowds were strong last summer. The bounce-back season was buoyed by travelers with limited travel options and more open school schedules that allowed for May and June rafting holidays. Colorado’s rafting outfitters have typically drawn visitors from within a six-hour drive, but last year they saw folks driving for 12 or more hours for summer holidays.



And with students on a looser school schedule last summer, the flow of rafter traffic into Colorado in May and June was off the charts.

Read more via the Colorado Sun.


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