Tubing, Rafting And Kayaking The Yampa River

Published on 04/29/2019 by Brad Luth

As long as you’re spending time in this picturesque region of Colorado, why not get up close and personal with the landscape on a journey you’ll never forget? While there’s no shortage of appealing options for day trips, no visit to the region would be complete without a trip down the Yampa River.

Whether you choose to splash your way down in a kayak, whitewater raft, or inner tube, the experience is one you’ll be talking about long after you’ve arrived back home. To get you started, here’s a handy guide on Yampa River tubing, kayaking, and rafting.

Tubing/Rafting Rental Companies

There are a number of friendly, reliable rental outfits serving the Steamboat Springs area. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but you can’t go wrong with any of the following companies:

Bucking Rainbow Outfitters

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Muy Rapido #fam

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This family-owned operation will help you customize the perfect day on the Yampa, with guided trips ranging from “mild to wild.” They offer either full- or half-day trips, and provide transportation to and from the river. As a bonus, if you have anglers in your crew, they’re noted for their services in the fishing industry as well. For more information, visit their website.

Backdoor Sports LTD

The name says it all: Backdoor Sports is located just steps away from one of the Yampa’s prime launch spots. Their tube rentals are reasonably priced, and they allow only a certain number of launches at one time to help ensure that the river doesn’t become overcrowded. For pricing and other inquiries, check out their website here.

Blue Sky West Rafting

You’re in good hands with the knowledgeable staff at Blue Sky West—they keep a close eye on the conditions to make sure that your trip is as safe and enjoyable as possible. Their half- or full-day rates are reasonable, and well worth the investment. Visit their website for quotes, enticing photos, and other information.

Kayak Rental Companies

Even if you’re an avid nature lover, chances are you didn’t travel to Steamboat Springs with your own kayak. Here’s where to go to secure a decent rental for your trip down the Yampa.

Mountain Sports Kayak School

The website itself offers instruction in basic paddling techniques, and actual lessons take place regularly for the uninitiated. If you’re already an experienced river kayaker, rentals are available from 9 am to 5 pm. To learn more, click here.

Backdoor Sports LTD

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Raft the rockies.

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This company offers more than a premier tubing experience—kayak rentals are also available, and for a decent price. The experienced staff can fill you in on everything you want to know about the Yampa before your launch. Check out their website to learn more about their offerings.

Places To Launch In The Yampa River

The Yampa flows for about 250 miles, but can only be accessed from certain areas. Should you choose to act as your own guide, here are some ideas on the best spots from which to launch your sturdy craft.

Double Bridges Boat Launch, Yampa River State Park

West Cross Mountain, Dinosaur National Monument

South Beach Boat Launch, Yampa River State Park

Pump Station, Yampa River State Park

Top Sights To See On The River

Following are some of the can’t-miss sights you can expect to enjoy along the way.

The Canyons at the Dinosaur National Monument

Tubing, Rafting And Kayaking The Yampa River
Photo Credit: Graeme Churchard via Filckr CC2.0


The Yampa is home to some of the most stunning rock formations in the West. Feast your eyes on the ancient natural carvings in shades of sunset and vermilion, all from the rugged splendor of the water.

Stubs Cabin

This old cattle homesteading site is located just a short hike from the banks of the river. Make sure your rafting shoes are up for the challenges of the land.

Fremont Indian Rock Art

Tubing, Rafting And Kayaking The Yampa River
Photo Credit: Ken Lund via Flickr CC2.0

The Dinosaur National Monument is home to some of this Native tribe’s granaries and ancient artifacts. Take a shore excursion for a journey back in time.

Other Tips for a Safe Journey

While you’re sure to have a great time on your excursion, there are several important things to keep in mind:

  • Stay hydrated, especially when adjusting to high altitude
  • Invest in a waterproof cover for your phone or camera
  • Wear plenty of sunscreen
  • Tailor the trip to the skill level of the youngest and least experienced group member
  • Alcoholic beverages are not permitted on the river
  • Check the conditions before heading out—the water levels can be affected by drought, making river travel unsafe

Above all, keep your eyes open and your camera at the ready, and enjoy the trip!