CANON CITY, Colo. — Colorado’s rafting industry is a huge economic driver, especially for places like Cañon City, which relies on the river for many jobs. COVID restrictions caused a big loss in business for commercial rafters.
“Everybody was shut down. We were fortunate enough to be allowed to open for Memorial Day weekend last year, even though we did not take a great deal of people. It was very very slow compared to what we expect this year,” said Will Colon, with Raft Masters. “If we wouldn’t have been able to boat last year at all there would be a lot less rafting companies this year.”
River runners saw rough waters during the 2020 season. According to The Colorado River Outfitters Association 2020 rafting report, there was a $36 million decline in commercial rafting across Colorado river communities.
Colorado rafting companies couldn’t cruise tours during March, April, May when the season typically gets flowing due to COVID restrictions. Things are looking up for rafters this season.
“We’re seeing definitely an increase in reservations to date and so we do anticipate that we will be busier than normal. We are already filled up on certain days this summer. Make up some from last year, absolutely,” said Colon. “We look to have a really good season as far as water. Just a little bit less than normal. But June will be our big water time.”
Cañon City rafters said reservations are filling up earlier than usual and that’s a good sign as the season gets roaring.