Summertime in Southwest Colorado is a great time to experience all that whitewater rafting has to offer. With The Lower Animas river flowing right through the heart of town, Durango is a prime location for river sports enthusiasts. Locals and visitors alike take to the river to cool off on hot summer days. Celebrating all that the Lower Animas brings to the community is the Animas River Days Festival! The festival is a weekend-long rafting celebration right here in Durango. The events celebrate and showcase the talent and excitement of Durango white water rafting. This year’s festival is on June 3rd,rd and has an exhilarating line-up of events!


How Did Animas River Days Get Started?

The Animas River Days festival began in 1985 when Nancy Wiley hosted a "whitewater rodeo" in Durango. The first of its kind, it was a celebration of rafting and kayaking in Durango. Over time the festival has grown and draws in crowds from all over the world. Participants flock to Durango to compete and spectate in the lively and unique events. The whitewater park in Durango has become the center of the festival in recent years. The park is well-known for three exciting rapids: Smelter, Corner Pocket, and Ponderosa. These rapids are rated as Class III, but in high water can be bumped up to Class IV. The whitewater park is a great location for spectators to watch the events. With large boulders lining the river bank, the park has a unique, stadium-esque feel.


What Goes on During the Festival?

The day of the festival is jam-packed with competitive and fun events. The day kicks off bright and early with a host of river sport competitions. Event finals will take place in the afternoon, as the whitewater park begins to fill up. Be sure to take a break from the water to wander around the park to explore all the offerings from local vendors and booths.  The final, can't-miss culmination of the event is the raft parade. The parade starts at 32nd Street and goes all the way down to Santa Rita park. Watch a variety of decorated vessels try to tackle the raging Smelter rapids. Chances are good you'll see a boat flip. The festival ends with a late-night party at El Rancho Tavern. Starting at 8:30 AM and going late into the night, this is a full day of Durango whitewater fun!


Durango Whitewater Rafting - The Best Way to Experience the Festival

Animas River Days is a great time to try your hand at whitewater rafting in Durango. Experience the same whitewater challenges as the competitors on the Lower Animas river. We think the perfect Animas River Days weekend would look something like this: On Saturday get out and participate in or watch the festival events. At the very least make sure you watch the whitewater parade through Santa Rita park. With costumes, live music, and whitewater, it is a unique site to see! On Sunday, experience the water for yourself when you take a raft trip down the Lower Animas river. Follow up a day of rafting with a brewery tour in the evening. Durango is a town that is well-known for its beer! Visit any of our many fine breweries such as Ska, Carver Brewing Company, Steamworks, Durango Brewing Company, and Animas Brewing Company. Taste the local microbrews and refuel from a day on the river. 

If you are planning a trip to Durango the weekend of June 3rd, get ready for a weekend of river fun! Lather on the sunscreen, grab your buddies, and head down to the Animas River. Watch some of Durango’s most spectacular whitewater rafting. If you think the events look like fun, try your hand at Durango whitewater rafting yourself! We’ll see you there!