Riverboarding in Colorado: Aspen & Steamboat Springs, U.S.A.

Riverboarding in Colorado: Aspen & Steamboat Springs, U.S.A.

Face-First Adrenaline Rushes

If extreme whitewater rafting or kayaking don’t give you enough thrills, try knifing through rapids face-first. Picture yourself lying on a riverboard and racing along as the rushing water blasts through churning rapids. On this tough plastic board, which is similar to a boogie board but molded to fit arms and upper body and covers your hips, you hang onto the handle grips to help control how you slide through the water. You are armored in a helmet, wetsuit, gloves, booties, fins, and knee or shin guards (and, we hope, a life jacket), as you dodge the rocks that create the rapids.

Riverboarding has long been popular in parts of New Zealand, where it’s called “sledging” (see ). Several years ago some Kiwis brought the sport to Colorado, a state where extreme sports thrive. It was the perfect marriage of sport and place. The hot spots in Colorado are around Steamboat and Aspen.

Aspen Seals, based in Aspen, runs riverboarding trips on the Roaring Fork and Arkansas rivers. Where the trips go depends upon the river flow at the time of your trip, but can range from Class II and III water, where you’ll have time to enjoy scenic stretches, to Class V water, where you’ll be totally focused on maneuvering through the rapids. Boarddom Bound in Steamboat gives riverboarding lessons in the spring and early summer. When you take lessons, equipment is usually provided. You need to be physically fit and adventurous for this sport. Age minimums may vary according to the difficulty of the trip.

Both Aspen and Steamboat offer a lot more than riverboarding and are both excellent homebases for adrenaline-inducing experiences of all kinds. Aspen has it all, from mountain biking, hiking, and paragliding off the surrounding mountainsides to the summer-long Aspen Music Festival performances by world-renowned musicians. The ambiance in Steamboat is more laid back, but all of the mountain sports, including skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, and more, are there. —LF

Aspen Chamber, 420 Rio Grande Place ( 970/925-1940; www.aspenchamber.org). Steamboat Chamber, 125 Anglers Dr. ( 877-754-2269 or 970/879-0880; www.steamboatchamber.com). Facelevel Industries (www.facelevel.com).

Tours: Aspen Seals, Aspen. ( 970/618-4569; www.aspenseals.com). Boardom Bound, 1205 Hilltop Parkways, Steamboat Springs ( 970/846-5926; www.boardombound.com).

When to Go: Spring or summer.

Aspen, Steamboat.

$$ Sky Hotel, 709 E. Durant Ave., Aspen ( 800/882-2582 or 970/925-6760; www.theskyhotel.com). $$ Hotel Bristol, 917 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs ( 800/851-0872 or 970/879-3083; www.steamboathotelbristol.com).

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