Feeling lazy on a summer day? Grab a tube and take a float down the San Juan River. 

Bored and can’t take the heat? Grab a kayak and test your skill set on the rapids in and around town. 

Group of friends ready for an adventure? Hop in a raft and let the river be your guide. 

Pagosa Country is a popular destination for rafters, kayakers and tubers. With waters both inviting for beginners and challenging to experts, area rivers including the San Juan, Piedra and Animas provide something for everyone.

Flowing through the heart of downtown Pagosa Springs, the San Juan River is perfect for those new to river sports and those who enjoy a gentle float. Offering superb views of the town and, farther downstream, spectacular shale cliffs, rafting or kayaking trips down the San Juan begin as early as March and continue as the season peaks in May or June. 

By mid-summer, river flows dramatically taper off and, while rafts and kayaks largely disappear from the river, activity continues as tubers take to the waters. Beating the summer heat in the cool, refreshing waters of the San Juan, tubers can bring their own tubes or rent them from local businesses. Tubers can enjoy surfing several river features in town or just relish a relaxed float down the lazy river. During this time of year, people wade in the cool waters and gather on the banks of the river in this superb recreational corridor running from one end of town to the other. Even when flows are at a minimum and river speeds drop to a gentle flow, young children should always enter the river with a life vest and never without direct adult supervision.

More experienced boaters can test their skills about 23 miles west of Pagosa on the Piedra River. During a brief 6-8 week season (from May through June), waters rush over class III to IV rapids through a pair of breathtaking box canyons offering kayakers and rafters a challenging ride on nearly 20 miles of wild river and whitewater.

Further west, the upper Animas River has a reputation as one of the top-five stretches of river for rafting thrills in North America. Boasting dramatic scenery and intensely long stretches of rapids, the upper Animas can be rafted and kayaked from late May to early August. In high water from early to mid June, the Animas runs with continuous class III rapids and stretches of intermittent class IV and V whitewater. 

Several Pagosa Springs companies offer guided rafting trips of varied lengths. Visitors are encouraged to call at least a week in advance to secure the date of their choice. Local companies also offer equipment rental including kayaks, rafts and associated gear as well as daily tube rental.

From raging rapids to gentle flows, scenery of soaring cliffs and deep, deep canyons in the backcountry to a small-town landscape, Pagosa Country has it all when it comes to river rafting, kayaking and tubing.