Spring and summer in Colorado are the perfect times to jump onto a raft and embark on a relaxing float trip. Grand Junction is surrounded by scenic canyons and mesas that provide unique Colorado float trips — like the Colorado River’s Ruby-Horsethief Canyon segment, perfect for hypnotic views and tranquil drifting.
And then there’s the stretch of the Colorado River between Palisade and Fruita, a perfect choice for floaters looking for convenience and easy access to all three mountain towns in the Grand Valley. If it’s a do-nothing day in the sun, gazing at a backdrop of wine country landscapes that you’re interested in, check out our guide to where to float in the Grand Junction area.
Before you hit the water, however, it’s important to be prepared. It’s all too easy to overlook some crucial items that can make the difference between a decent float trip and an awesome one.
Here’s a packing list of items that no float tripper in Colorado should ever go without.
1. Water and Snacks
Even though you’ll be surrounded by water on your float trip, you won’t want to be drinking it. Make sure you bring plenty of clean bottled water to stay hydrated. On top of that, bring a bunch of snacks like nuts, trail mix, sandwiches, and granola bars — hard containers work best!
Summertime in Colorado can sometimes climb to 100 degrees, so it’s essential to make sure you’re protected from getting sunburned. Bring enough waterproof sunscreen for everyone on your trip, and make sure you all wear or pack hats and light-colored clothing (SPF clothing has come a long way, so check it out).
3. A Change of Clothes
If there’s one thing you can be sure about on a float trip, it’s that someone is going to get wet, oftentimes on purpose. Make sure you bring all the right swimwear and a change of dry clothes so you can relax and travel home comfortably after a dip in the Colorado or Gunnison River.
4. Waterproof Bags
Dry bags are designed to keep your valuables safe and protected from the water while you float along the river. Bring a few along and use them to safely store things like money, phones, watches, and anything vulnerable to water damage.
5. Water Shoes
Wearing flip-flops on a float trip is asking for trouble. Not only are they incredibly easy to lose to the river, but they also don’t offer much protection against sharp stones and other riverbed debris. Water shoes are a great alternative — they’re comfortable, secure, and keep your feet protected.
6. Waterproof Electronics
A float trip is always better accompanied by music and photos to remember the day. Fortunately, there are many options for waterproof cameras and speakers including dry see-through bags for your phone so you can still snap photos. Now you can do all these things with peace of mind, knowing your equipment won’t be destroyed when you hit a wave or take a dip.
7. A Cooler for Drinks
Nothing beats sipping on a cold beer or a can of rosé wine while lazily meandering down the river on a summer’s day. But you can’t have a cold beer — or a cold anything, for that matter — without a good cooler to keep it in. Bring a cooler on board and stock it with refreshing beverages and treats.
8. Bug Spray or Insect-Repellent Wristbands
In Colorado’s summertime, you’re bound to encounter a few aquatic insects. These shouldn’t ruin your float trip, especially if you drive them away with the right bug spray, avoiding annoying bites and unplanned food sharing.
9. Tube Repair Kit
Sometimes, disaster strikes, and a stray piece of rock damages your tube or raft, throwing your relaxing day of floating into an unplanned pit stop. A damaged float can be only a minor annoyance, as long as you bring a small tube repair kit so you can patch up any leaks and get back to your river day with ease.
Start Planning Your Colorado Float Trip
Floating down the river in Colorado can make for unforgettable memories and a perfect day out. If you take a little time to prepare in advance and make sure you have all the right essentials, floating the Colorado River will deliver pure bliss.
Grand Junction is one of the best destinations in Colorado for float trips and is home to some incredibly scenic and smooth stretches of river. Make plans to arrange your long day in the sun, while you dip your toes in the water, sip on your favorite craft beverage, and jam to your favorite tunes.
Find out more about float trip options — and all the outdoor activities you can experience in Grand Junction, Colorado.