We took the half day 2pm trip through Brown's Canyon on 7/15/13. I actually booked our trip through Buffalo Joe's sister company Echo Canyon as we originally wanted to do a Royal Gorge area trip but due to the area forest fires decided to do Brown's Canyon which was more on the way to our next traveling stop anyway. Our trip was a wide group ranging from my 57 year old father, 3 men between 31-22, 2 females 37 & 20, and my 10 year old son.
We were hoping for an exciting ride but also safe enough to the keep the 57 & 10yr olds comfortable. Brown's was recommend to us as the most advance we should take a 10 year old on and I would agree I probably wouldn't have been comfortable taking him on much more than this. The area had two days of heavy rain leading into our trip so water levels were unusually high and the guides were pumped themselves to be out on the river in it. This was a plus as we did want the adrenaline experience as long as it was safe for the kid.
Buffalo Joe's staff was super friendly and ready to answer any questions you had. Because of the rain and slight cold almost everyone on the trip rented a rain jacket for $5 extra which we all felt was a good deal. If the sun is going to be out I would skip it, but if it's cloudy you may be glad you paid for it. The trip started a little behind schedule but mostly due to them waiting for some late members of another party. All rafting companies on the river use the same inlet and outlet if doing the 10-mile run. Joe's will bus you 10min there and 20min back, a couple companies are on the river but I wouldn't let this be a big factor in determining who you go with.
We were a group from Iowa and Joe's had a guide from Iowa and I think on purpose hooked us up with him (Reggie). When Reggie realized we were decent rowers (sorry about the backstrokes) he had the comfort to set us up for more adventurous lines and faster course travel which was perfect for us and we ended up being the lead raft most of the trip. My only suggestion would be the girls at the front could not hear Reggie's commands so we had to relay them, speaking up would have helped.
The river itself was at high water levels as I mentioned. The first 1.5hr of the trip will be covering about 3 miles of basically training waters and low class 2 rapids. The last 1.5hr cover the remaining 7 miles of class 2 & 3 rapids. If you are using a helmet cam that has battery issues save your footage for the last half.
The canyon area itself is beautiful even though our weather was cloudy and grey. We had some rain for awhile too but it actually added a little something to the trip. One of our rafters got thrown into the raft and ended up knocking my wife out of the raft into the toilet bowl but thankfully got a grasp of the raft right away. As no one was hurt we actually all found this to be awesome including my wife. Our guide described later how she could have been sucked into the toilet bowl and how to escape, would have been nice to know in advance but hey she's safe and I'm never letting her live this one down and it made for some awesome camera footage.
At about the same point a 12 yr old girl about two rafts behind got tossed and unfortunately did not make it back to her boat. She took about a 250' float down the river and Reggie guided us excellently into position to rescue her. She was a little shaken up but once she was safe everyone had a good laugh including her parent. Joe's guides were great at providing a safe ride considering the conditions and when someone did get tossed they knew how to get in the best position to pick them up. Even though I mentioned the two tosses above these were highlights of our trip and I don't mention them in a negative way.
The 3hr trip was perfect for the 57 & 10 yr old but I think the rest of us wanted some more and we all came out saying we wanted to test the class 4's (without the 57 & 10yr old). Buffalo Joe's is a class outfit and have great attitudes and I would have no problem going back to them. My only issue would be the price of their picture CD. There is no pressure to purchase, but if you did want them their prices are setup at $25 for 1 pic, or $50 for the CD. I don't normally have an issue with buying the CD but for our group of 7 people there were only 15 pictures. I felt the price should have been cheaper or more photos should have been taken.
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