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“Great Rafting Experience”

Independent Whitewater
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Independent Whitewater is Salida's local river connection, we offer trips for all skill levels. Whether you’re scenic Salida floats, advanced whitewater rafting, or the longest half-day trip through Browns Canyon National Monument, we have a trip to fit your needs. Family-owned and operated, Independent Whitewater has been in business in Salida for 35 years and has a strong dedication to safety and good old-fashioned American fun. Come spend the day with Wiley and Mike, Independent Whitewater's owners, along with their highly trained and professional staff. Another great reason to raft with Independent Whitewater is that our Browns Canyon rafting trips end on private property, which means you'll beat the crowds and go through rapids that other rafting companies don't. More Miles, More Smiles! Give us a call today to schedule your trip!
Reviewed July 16, 2011

This service was very good with reasonable pricing. Rafted Brown's Canyon on the Arkansas River, just north of Poncha Springs, CO

Thank BudLoftis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 16, 2011

We just had a fun, safe trip with IW rafting down Brown's Canyon. The last two rapids, Siedel's Suckhole and Twin Falls are the best part of the trip. The CFS on the Arkansas has been high this summer, but our guides did a great job of coaching us through a fun ride. We had some young teens in the rafts and they did great.

One of our friends who went with us had been a river guide in the past and he mentioned that our guides did a great job. Our kids wanted to have fun and get wet. We wanted the same, but were a little more concerned with our safety. IW did a great job making us all happy.

Thank KOChevere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2011

I booked a "private" trip for my wife and I to raft through Brown's Canyon with Independent Whitewater ("IW") for the morning of July 3, 2011. I chose IW because they offer private raft trips and have a take out that includes an additional 2 rapids further down river from where the many other companies end their half-day trips.

It was a bad choice.

I should have known there were going to be customer service problems from back when I booked the trip in early 2011. I called the number on the website and spoke with one of the owners on his cell. We discussed the trip and I made a reservation. He said he would call me back the next day (since he was in his car) to take my payment, but he didn't call back. Strike 1.

After waiting a few weeks, I called back to confirm the reservation and make payment. The reservation was not on the books (but it was no matter since we were still months from our trip). Strike 2.

I paid a premium to go out on a private raft (just us and the guide), and to be separate from other rafts (not part of a larger trip). They told me this would be no problem. OK. I called to confirm one week before the trip, and IW said we were all set. We arrived in Salida a couple of days before our scheduled rafting trip and I was surprised to learn from others (the gentleman leading us on our llama trek and a business downtown) that commercial solo rafting trips were not permitted through Brown's Canyon. Hmmmm.... Indeed, on the eve of our trip I received an e-mail from IW stating that our trip was still on, but that we would be going with a convoy of other boats. They also pushed back our departure time by 45 minutes. It was a good thing i checked my e-mail, because they could not reach me by phone (they said there was a typo in my reservation...strike 3). When we arrived at IW, I had to request a refund of the additional money i paid for the private trip. That should have been done automatically. Strike 4.

Now the actual trip...it started out great. Beautiful scenary and tame, managable rapids. Guide seemed friendly, expereienced, and confident (though a bit flakey, but hey, he is a rafting guide). I asked him at the outset what were the chances that we would end up swimmers, and he said 95% that we will not be swimming. He then bragged about how he has done this river at nightime, without a flashlight, and not fallen in, and that he had only had 3 swimmers out of the 80+ trips he guided this year and that those people were inexperienced. That was exactly what I wanted to hear. My wife and I are experienced paddlers that have taken on the Colorado, Gauley, Gallatin, Ocoee, Yellowstone, Penobscot, and other rivers-- we had never fallen out of a raft and we didn't want to that day.

The rafting trip was headed toward a successful conclusion when we got to the 2nd to last rapid, one of the "extra" rapids you get with IW. That is where everything went to hell. Our guide bragged that we were going to "go to the right" while the other boats went to the left on this particular rapid. He bragged about how he always goes to the right, even when the other boats take (what i presume is the safer route) to the left. We didn't encourage this cavalier attitude by any means, but we didn't object to his statement or question it either (our guide didn't ask our opinion). We figured he had had 10 miles to size us up as rafters and felt comfortable going to the right. Who were we to question this guy who had rafted the river "over 1200 times at night!"

So, you can guess what happened next, our raft flipped over in this Class IV monster, in high water, trapping my wife, myself, and the guide all under the inverted raft. It was then a struggle for survival that unfortunately ruined our vacation. We were rescued by other boats downstream. It was a horrifying experience.

You may think this negative review is because we flipped. It isn't. The guide took the blame for the flip, but who knows. Maybe it was our fault, maybe his, maybe a combination. This is mother nature and things happen-- i get it. But what really upset me was that after we were rescued, out of breathe, exhausted, and clearly phased by what had just transpired, IW seemed focused not on our safety, but rather on hurrying down the river so that they could start their afternoon trip on time. We had zero energy, but were thrown back into our boat and right into another rapid. We almost flipped again, as it was clear our guide was exhausted too. Not good.

If you are going to the area and enjoy rafting, Brown's Canyon is very scenic and the rapids are mostly mild and fun. I would recommend a different company than IW, however. IW offers those two extra rapids, but one of those flipped our boat full of experienced paddlers. Moreover, IW clearly did not have its act together from a business/customer service standpoint, and its actions after the flip did not make me feel as though they prioritized safety. Go with someone else.

4  Thank snipesmorris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 17, 2015 via mobile
Google Translation

Thank Curiosone61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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