Willoughby: Rafting season is sponsored by runoff

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Forget the alphabet and arithmetic. Just a week before Father’s Day and two weeks before her second birthday my little girl made papa’s heart swell with an incomprehensible pride when she looked up from the changing table and stated succinctly, “Daddy, I want to go rafting.”


Needless to say, it came as a shock, given her lacking aptitude for mountain biking, rock climbing and skiing to date. Apparently, she’s a water sports gal, emphasized by an attraction to the big water at that.


It’s unlikely on this Father’s Day that our raft will make it much farther than the driveway, where it rests in all its flaccid glory. That’s a fine spot for family “rafting” at the moment, as most local rivers remain at an uncomfortably high level for even the most ambitious white- water toddlers.


We climb and bounce and occasionally high side on the trailer, lounging on camp chairs with cool drinks in hand. If only the fishing were just a little better.


But there’s plenty of time for that. Although we all know that anything can happen in the Colorado high country, there’s ample evidence that the majority of the state’s rivers have passed their peak flows from snowmelt runoff this year. And with the longest day of the year looming just a week away, the promise of summer’s warmth equates to prime season for the quintessential Colorado adventure of whitewater rafting as the rivers settle to more manageable levels. The fishing will follow soon enough.


If you’ve never been on a whitewater rafting adventure, the Colorado River Outfitters Association (CROA) is here to help. The trade association representing more than 45 licensed professional whitewater rafting outfitters across the state is in the business of promoting Colorado as the premier whitewater destination in the nation.


In an effort to do so, CROA recently launched its first-ever promotional contest last week, offering one lucky family of four a choice of three different three-day rafting packages, overnight stays and meals included.


Typical of contests today, the 2014 Family Rafting Adventure Giveaway requires contestants to “Like” the official CROA Facebook page, then submit a 45- to 60-second video (via YouTube, Vine or Instagram) to the “Woobox” Facebook tab, explaining why they are most deserving of the family rafting trip. Contestants are encouraged to spread the video to their social media networks, and the video with the most votes will win the rafting giveaway.


Video submissions will be accepted and votes tallied through Sunday, June 22. The winner will be announced June 25 and offered a choice of the following three packages:


• Three-day trip for a family of four on the Arkansas River, presented by Arkansas Valley Adventures and Echo Canyon Rafting. Winners will explore Browns Canyons for two days and partake in a ziplining adventure after their second day and one night on the river. The third day will be spent on the whitewater in Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Minimum age is 10 years.


• Three-day trip for a family of four on the San Miguel River, presented by Mild to Wild Rafting. The trip features fast-paced action and the gorgeous, diverse scenery of the San Juan Mountains. Minimum age is 10 years.


• Three-day trip for a family of four with one overnight on the Colorado River. Hotel accommodations for the night before and night after the trip will be provided, as well as meals on the river. Minimum age is 10 years.



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