Rafters on the CO River

By Patrick Drake, Glenwood Springs

I have co-owned and operated Blue Sky Rafting and Glenwood Canyon Rafting since 2007 and 2020. Born and raised in Glenwood Springs, one of my earliest memories is driving through Glenwood Canyon in 1984 as the historic high water on the Colorado River threatened to overtop the sandbags protecting Highway 6 near the Hanging Lake Dam. At the time, CDOT was beginning construction of I-70, already laying out the public river access points which would become the foundation of the town’s rafting and fishing economy. The Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon has always been a part of my life. And it is my livelihood, too.

As river outfitters, we are greatly impacted by mother nature and need certainty if we are going to confidently reinvest in our companies and in our community. Finding and keeping reliable employees, for example, is increasingly challenging due to housing shortages, cost of living and the unpredictable nature of an industry that depends on flowing rivers in a hotter, dryer future.