Rafting season is ready to launch, but coronavirus worries are running high in Colorado
With warming temperatures in Colorado’s mountains and spring runoff in full swing, the whitewater boating season should be off to a roaring start.
But Colorado’s stringent COVID-19 travel and recreation restrictions are forcing commercial rafting companies to create social distance on unruly rivers and face the potential for smaller crowds.
“The snowpack’s in good shape,” John Kreski, rafting coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’ Arkansas River Headwaters Area, said earlier this month. “But the phones aren’t ringing. This is very frustrating.”
But by Wednesday afternoon, the trend was “changing rapidly,” said Kevin Meadows, owner of River Runners Browns Canyon in Buena Vista. Though Chaffee County has not yet heard whether its request for a variance from Gov. Jared Polis’ “Safer at Home” order has been granted and outfitters can begin floating down the Arkansas before the order lifts on June 1, rafters have begun booking trips.
“Our calls are increasing exponentially on a daily basis,” Meadows said. “Two weeks ago we had no bookings. But now we are booking 20% of our historical volume. So we have a ways to go to get where we want to be. But these are optimistic signs.”
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