LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s been a deadly couple of weeks on both Clear Creek and the Cache La Poudre River, and until Saturday there hadn’t been a death on a commercial rafting trip in Colorado since 2011.
In Poudre Canyon the Poudre River has seen three deaths in just two weeks.
“It’s a risk everyone takes obviously when they do this,” veteran kayaker Dave Stephens said.
Stephens knows what it’s like to fall into a fierce flow.
“It’s scary — and you get tired,” he said. “You’d think with a life jacket and everything that you’d just stay up all the time and you’d be fine. But with the water the way it is, with the rapids that you hit, it can still pull you under.”
It’s that danger that has commercial rafting companies shutting down upper sections of the river.
“Companies move the trips based on water levels,” David Costlow with the Colorado River Outfitters Association said.
Costlow says this season’s high waters are attracting thousands of thrill-seeking rafters every day.
“The risks are manageable, and most companies, if they think the risk is not manageable, they’re not on that section, they’re not on that run,” Costlow said.
With Mother Nature in charge, Stephens says no matter how much experience a person has they should still be careful.
“You always have to still kind of keep it in the back of your mind that run it like it’s the first time you’ve run it,” Stephens said.
Costlow says rafting companies in Colorado took more than 448,000 people out on commercial rafting trips last year. Numbers for this season are expected to be higher.