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“Memorable, good & bad......” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Arkansas Valley Adventures

Arkansas Valley Adventures
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Ranked #6 of 17 Tours in Buena Vista
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: World-class Colorado rafting trips on 8 rivers for all ages and abilities, zipline tours and rock climbing on our 44-acre mountain property. Offering great trip discounts every day on our award-winning website: just click the red Trip Discounts button on our home page. Plus free wetsuits and splash jackets on AVA-run trips. Colorado rafting trips only 30 minutes from Denver and 1 hour from Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, Aspen, Winter Park, Steamboat. Also join us for cabins, camping, horseback riding, fly fishing and more.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Food available for purchase
Lake Villa, Illinois, United States
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Memorable, good & bad......”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 30, 2013

One of the things on my "bucket list" has always been white water rafting. I am an avid kayaker & aqua fitness instructor, so water is pretty much my life. After planning a trip to Colorado to visit my sister, (lives in Aurora) I asked her to find a good rafting company. She made a reservation with AVA (Arkansas Valley Adventure) at Clear Creek in Summit County. We went first thing in the morning. First sight, I was impressed, but had nothing really to compare it to. Instruction & handing out of equipment seemed basic. After walking to the put in sight, just down the road, we simply picked a boat & guide with our kids. (ages 12, 11, & 9) I did ask the guide about his experience, he had said it was his first summer. Now, that is something that I highly recommend doing, asking about experience. I should have thought more about his answer & picked another guide. Although our guide seemed adequate, we did have an accident. I am an adventurer, so I realize that all sorts of things can happen, which is why they have you sign a waiver. However, when something unexpected does happen, it's ALWAYS how you handle it that sets you aside from the others. We had a beautiful journey, saw some amazing scenery during our 7mile trip. The last few minutes brought some unwanted excitement though. Our guide did have a problem with being able to project his voice, & yell out commands so that we all could hear. So I think that was part of the problem that got us in our predicament. He warned us of something coming up called, "the box." A small space we were suppose to navigate between two boulders. We ended up with our raft on its side & up in the air, consequently filling it with water. The current is very strong & water is cold, so we needed to know what to do. Our guide seemed to freeze a bit. Remember gang, time is of the essence & we had children with us.......we needed to know, immediately what to do. I yelled for all of us to climb aboard the very boulder which up ended us, as there didn't seem to be too many other choices. After hanging out on this boulder for about 30mins. & a failed rescue attempt by the other guides via a poorly secured rope, they finally pushed one of the other boats up to the boulder, secured that, & we jumped from our boulder, to the raft, to the rocky & steep shore. All the while construction workers from above us had lowered their crane to pull our ill fated raft from certain peril at the bottom of the river. They were awesome! They didn't have to come to our rescue, but they saw our guides really didn't have a clue as to how to get our raft out. Now, I will say this, there are several rafts & guides that go out together as a group. I imagine for this exact reason. When one is in trouble, the others are there to help, & help they did. It took a while for them to come to our rescue though, I guess they thought we could get out of our lil predicament, however, rushing water into an up ended raft, will rarely ever remedy itself. Plus, we had children with us. Help should have been instantaneous when kids are involved. Our guide admitted to us that he had done the same thing in training, at this exact same spot. Possibly, maybe guys, only put adults with this guide until he has more experience. After we re-entered our raft to finish our trip, our guide was very quiet. Which is bad, cause we still needed instruction. We almost got hung up a few more times because he wasn't instructing us properly &/or we couldn't hear his commands. He never once asked us if we were ok or even a mere apology. He stayed behind, to man the rafts rather than accompany us back to base. Once we got back to our starting point, not one single person came up to us & asked if we were ok. Not one single person said, "hey, we are sorry that happened to you guys." And there was not one single offer of, coming back for a free trip as a "peace offering" or even, here guys, your pics are on us! Here's the thing AVA, we all live in the real world, we know things can happen, however, I do believe that we ended up the way we did as a result of our guides inexperience. I also believe the party line is to get the people who experienced this unpleasantness out of there as quickly as possible, probably not great for business. But I am a business owner myself, & when a mistake or incidence happens, it's all about how you rectify it. Make your customers happy, after a rather scary first time rafting trip. As customers, we weren't rude or demanding at all, but we did feel ignored, & frankly, that's not good business. So we spent a load of cash on the actual trip, plus to buy the cd with pics, as well as some items in their store. I don't think it would have broke this company to some folks on their first day of vacation, & their first rafting trip ever to say hey, "this is on us, please come back again." Customer service doesn't mean your admitting to any liability, because we all know that's what your afraid of, just a simple gesture can go a LONG, LONG way. That's all I'm sayin........

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
6 Thank Michelle P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AVARafting, General Manager at Arkansas Valley Adventures, responded to this review, July 31, 2013
Thank you for your feedback. I'm really sorry you did not have the exceptional experience we strive to provide for every one of our guests. But I am very happy and relieved to hear that you and your family are safe.

Rafting trips do take place in a natural environment, and there are aspects we have control over and some that we don't. Even the best trained guides can find themselves in a pinch. Safety is our number one priority, and we do everything we can to give our guests additional tools and understanding to help themselves in the situations that we cannot control. It sounds like you listened to the safety orientation quite well as your quick reaction to climb up the boat to the “high side,” as we call it, was spot on. This is one of the techniques we teach in our safety talk before every trip, and your quick execution of that technique resulted in you and your family remaining safe. Our guides are trained to communicate high siding and other safety related instructions to their guests, and I am confident that your guide would have instructed you to high side, had you not reacted already. I will admit there is always a learning process, and occasionally guides are surprised by the speed their boat became pinned. This is not excusable, however. We spoke to the guide the same day as the trip to promote this as learning for him. We have one of the most rigorous guide training programs in the state, far exceeding the state requirements for commercial river guides. We are constantly providing additional training for our staff and using any incidents on the river as an opportunity for learning no matter how experienced the guide.

The speed of rescues is always something we strive to improve much like your local fire or police department. I am sorry that we took longer than you would have liked to get you and your family off the rock. This was to insure that we could maintain your safety during that maneuver. When you and your family were on the rock the guides were able to assess you were not in immediate danger, and they made the decision not to put additional people at risk (not only themselves but the other guests or your family) in order to execute a rescue hastily. They took the time to insure your removal from the rock in the middle of the river was as safe as possible. And for that I am proud of them.

Regarding the removal of the raft from the rock, the standard technique is to use a “Z – Drag”, a mechanical advantage rope system, that takes time to set up no matter how practiced one is. The guides had built this system and were in the process of setting it up, according to the trip leader, with whom I spoke the next day. When the crane lowered its boom to assist, that was very generous of the construction workers and sped up the rescue.

We try to be sensitive to our guests' individual experiences ,and I'm really sorry you feel we didn't apologize or express concern for your experience. It can be frightening, and all of our guides need to keep that in mind. Given our past experience with these situations, as well as your interactions with our staff after your trip, we didn't realize you were as upset as you were. We are continuing to work with our staff to be ever sensitive to our guests' state of mind and hope no one in the future has to experience the fear you felt. Ultimately, because you did have this experience, I still feel that we succeeded in our primary goal of keeping your family safe.

Michelle, if you would like to discuss this matter further please call our reservation office and ask for me directly.

Brandon Gonski
General Manager
AVA rafting
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Tulsa, Oklahoma
1 review
“I loved it and plan on going back!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 28, 2013

When I went rafting at ava in Buena Vista all the guides where extremely nice and funny. My raft guide Randall was so funny nice and a fun guide. Another guide I meet there was Mogli. He was easy and fun to talk to. I plan on going back this summer with my mom and best friend. Absolutly a wonderful trip!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank micah_watson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Shawnee, Kansas
Level Contributor
76 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Misinformation, miscommunication, apathy”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 28, 2013

I booked a group of 12. We stayed at AVA's Granite Outpost. Numbers/Narrows on day one, with Zip/rock climb on day two. Guides were all good and relatively friendly, and I must admit the rafting, zipline, and climbing was fun, but between misinformation on the website, misinformation from the reservationists, and miscommunications between Outpost staff and guides I am very disappointed in the overall experience. When I complained to the Outpost staff about all the miscommunication I was told that they'd heard the same complaints before and they suggested I call someone to complain. In my opinion, in speaking with the Outpost manager, I was lodging a complaint, and the passing of the buck left a bad taste in my mouth. I was also reminded several times by various guides that our group was larger than normal, as if it was a hassle to deal with us. If a group that size is a hassle to AVA, then they shouldn't have booked it for me, and directed me towards an outfitter that would be happier to take my money. Would probably not use AVA again.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank lizardkc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AVARafting, General Manager at Arkansas Valley Adventures, responded to this review, July 30, 2013
Thank you for your feedback. We are so happy you enjoyed your guides. We see them as our greatest asset and the ones who really provide the experiences you as well as all of our guests are coming for. I'm very sorry you felt misinformed by our website and staff. We have been in contact with all our staff and have made sure that all of our reservation agents and our outpost staff including guides, office staff and managers all have the same information. Our constant efforts to maintain this communication should reduce any miscommunications or misunderstandings. We are also constantly updating our website to reflect any changes that we see throughout our company. I'm sorry this was not completed and communicated before your trip and I hope you will visit us again and see the improvement.

Brandon Gonski
General Manager
AVA Rafting and Mountaintop Zipline
970-423-7031
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Clay Center, Kansas
1 review
“AVA-Colorado River Duckies”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 28, 2013

Our family did the full day duckie trip down the upper Colorado River for the second year in a row. We went with AVA the first year and booked with them the second. Their interactive website made it easy to book our trip for our desired day and the staff was easy to work with. When we arrived in Kremmling, everything was set up for us. All we had to do was check in and get our life vests and helmets. "V" was our guide both years. He was very outgoing and friendly and made both trips an outstanding experience. In our party of 6, age ranged from 18 to 60 and there was a wide range of thrills for everyone. The scenery is spectacular which is one reason we knew we had to go a second time. We have done many rafting trips when our children were smaller, but the duckies and the Colorado Rive are definitely the most fun and you will be "hooked" if you decide to go!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank MBlake_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Evergreen, Colorado, United States
Level Contributor
3 reviews
“Photographer....NOT!!!!”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 26, 2013

We rafted the beginner 1/2 day with my family who came from out of state and had young children ages 9 and 13. First off, the trip started late. No really big deal but the trip ahead of us were waiting on some people when your website clearly states to be on time. The raft ride was great and our guide "Chris" was fantastic. The EPIC FAILURE was your photographer who was no where to be found until we had all ready went over the rapid. We paid $49.00 for a set of pictures that were virtually the same and we had to almost pose so as the sleeping photographer could get a pic. And yes...I understand that we did not have to purchase those pics but these people came from out of state and were looking so forward to this and the pics they could share with their friends. Sooo very disappointed!!! My husband and I have used "Liquid Descent" in the past as we live here in Evergreen and we are rafters. We will not EVER again use your company and I will not recommend my out of town family or friends to use you at all. It was a total rip off of $49.00 for crappy half baked pics. At least the other outfitters have multiple snap shot sites with a lot more pics on the DVD for the same amount of money. EPIC fail people. You lost my business.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Debbie F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AVARafting, Manager at Arkansas Valley Adventures, responded to this review, July 29, 2013
Debbie,
Thank you for your feedback on your rafting experience with our company. We appreciate any and all suggestions on how to improve the experience for our guests. We appreciate your punctuality in showing up on time and we do apologize for the delay in the departure of your rafting trip. Other guests on your trip were late but we had been in contact with them and it was confirmed that they would be arriving in a reasonable amount of time. We try to accommodate all of our guests and made the decision to hold the trip temporarily in an effort to get all of our guests out on the river.
In regards to the photos of your raft trip, we use an outside contractor for our river photos as do most other companies on the Clear Creek. We have been in contact with the company Rapid Image Photo. They have expressed their concern over this matter as they hold themselves to a very high standard. Please give us a call at our sales center, and we would be happy to refund the cost of the photos. Please ask for our sales manager when you call. Again, thank you for your feedback and we hope to hear from you soon.

Ryan Santilli
Sales Manager
AVA Rafting and Mountaintop Zipline
970-423-7031
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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