3 Day Upper Animas

This is one of the most sought after trips in the United States due to the remoteness, stunning scenery and fantastic whitewater. You will be immersed in over 25 miles of class III, IV and V whitewater with some rapids that last for miles. We will stop for the night at our stunning river- side camp where you can relax with a cold beverage or explore Chicago Basin while we cook up a hearty meal for you.

On day two you will have the chance to hike into Chicago Basin from our camp near Needle Creek. An ambitious hiker could certainly summit one or more peaks. Possibilities include Pigeon Peak, Eolas Peak, Windom Peak and Sunlight Peak. Of course you could easily spend the day exploring the river corridor and historic Needleton. Some people choose to rest up or spend the day fishing. Its up to you!

Participants should have above average fitness and stamina, as well as strong swimming skills and previous whitewater rafting experience. During high water in May and early June this is especially important as we will likely be portaging at least one rapid (you must be able to help carry the boat). We reserve the right to move participants to the Middle Upper trip based on flows or skill/fitness levels of participants.

No other river in Colorado can match the scenery and wilderness character that is found on the Upper Animas. Come and see for yourself or watch the video!


  • 4 PM Day Prior to Launch: Meet at 4 Corners Riversports in Durango for a pre-trip safety video, gear fitting and swim test on the Lower Animas to assess skills and train for the challenges ahead
  • 7 AM Launch Day: Depart Durango for Silverton, Colorado
  • 9:00 AM Launch Day: Arrive in historic Silverton and rig boats
  • 10:00 AM Launch Day: Begin floating
  • 11 AM Launch Day: Run class IV+ Snow Shed rapid
  • 12 Noon Launch Day: We prepare a tasty lunch above Ten Mile rapid, then scout this class V rapid
  • 1 PM Launch Day: Arrive at and scout class V No Name rapid, we set safety and video camera man… Look like too much for you? You have the option to walk around
  • 2 PM Launch Day: Run class IV+ Tank Rapid
  • 3 PM Launch Day: Arrive in Needleton, CO. One day participants exit here to board the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train back to Durango, Colorado
  • Overnight participants continue on to camp
  • Day 2: Spend the day sleeping, eating, hiking, climbing, fishing, reading or all of the above; enjoy it, this is a magical place
  • Day 3: 8 AM: coffee and breakfast
  • 9:30 AM: Morning hike to the old miners cabin and grave site
  • 12 Noon: We prepare a tasty lunch before launching
  • 1 PM: Arrive at and scout class V Broken Bridge Rapid
  • 2:00 PM: Stop for a well deserved snack break at Cascade Canyon
  • 2:30 PM: We tackle several class IV rapids above Tacoma
  • 3:30 PM: Arrive at Tacoma Station and derig boats and gear
  • 4:30 PM: Board the train for Durango, Colorado
  • 6:30 PM: Arrive in Durango, Colorado


In early season the Upper Animas can be chilly and you could fall in the river for a long swim. We provide a wetsuit with splash top or a full paddling suit for your safety and comfort. We provide dry storage, a proper-fitting personal flotation device (life jacket) and helmet, booties and gloves. We also provide a hearty riverside lunch. This is all included in the price!

You should bring the following items for this trip:

  • Fleece/synthetic layers for under the paddle suit and swimsuit for under the wetsuit (we have some loaner fleece available). Absolutely no cotton when on the water
  • Sunglasses with strap (cheap pair)
  • Street clothes for the train ride
  • A water bottle to clip to boat


Standard coach or gondola train tickets are included in the price. Upgraded cars are available. Visit durangotrain.com for more info about this part of your day.


The maximum number allowed per trip by the U.S. Forest Service is 24 including guides. We require a minimum of 4 persons total to conduct a trip. Discounts are available for a group of 10 or more.

Climb Pigeon Peak

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Please contact us with any questions