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Buffalo Joe’s Rafting brought to you by River Runners
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Owner description: Buffalo Joe's has merged with River Runners! Our whitewater rafting adventures are run on the Arkansas River from April through September, beginning north of Buena Vista and continuing south through Brown's Canyon which has recently been designated a National Monument! For the experienced rafters we also offer the more challenging trips through the Royal Gorge and Numbers sections of the Arkansas. You'll love our brand new headquarters on the river in downtown Buena Vista's South Main neighborhood. Not only are we among the oldest and safest rafting company's, but we're the only rafting company on the Arkansas River that's walking distance to your hotel room, restaurants, shops and parks! Hope to see you on the river soon!
Des Moines, Iowa
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“AWESOME ADVENTURE”
Reviewed 9 June 2014

My 11 year old son and I did the full day rafting trip which included some of the Narrows and Browns Canyon. This was the highlight of our Colorado vacation. The water levels were extremely high which made for a VERY exciting trip that we'll never forget. A couple of the rafts did flip due to the water level but the guides were very good at getting everyone to safety and back into the raft to enjoy the remainder of the trip. They also have a guide in a kayak (Thomas ) for extra safety in the cases that someone unintentionally "go swimming"....he was awesome and earned his money that day. All the guides are fantastic, however we will be asking for our guide Timmy when we return next year....he was seriously the best! Lunch was great....would totally recommend this trip to anyone. Can't wait to do it again!

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank R M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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119 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Level 5 Contributor
45 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Always a great time!”
Reviewed 5 June 2014

My family and I come rafting every year with Buffalo Joe's and always have a great time. This year the river water level is up and very exciting. We rafted down the Brown's Canyon section again and it was amazing! My 15 year old sons and husband loved the high water and big rapids this year! Glad we wore wetsuits as the water was pretty chilly. Can't compete with their steak lunch - always fills us up. JT was a great guide, super knowledgeable about the area and river. We have always enjoyed our experience from start to finish. We all can't wait to go again next year!

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
Thank KaiyaMarie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Las Vegas, Nevada
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Not what promised!”
Reviewed 29 July 2013

My family and I have been rafting numerous times and our younger girls wanted more adventure. This was the first time our 21 year old son would be rafting with us. We wanted to book "The Numbers" but all the websites of all the rafting companies said they had a minimum age of 14. When I called Buffalo Joe's (their website didn't say) I was told they would rather take an experienced 10 year old than an inexperienced 20 year old. I asked if this meant I could book the trip since my younger girls (10 year twins and 12 year old) had been rafting on class 3 and 4 rapids several times. I was told yes, but they would have to pay adult prices. After several emails with the owner to confirm this, I was told in writing, that yes we could book the trip. When we arrived the ladies at the front desk said the girls were too young. The owner came out and looked at the kids and said "I didn't realize they were so small." (He never asked their height or weight, only their age and experience level) He kept saying how dangerous and unsafe it was because they were so small. He sold us on Brown's Canyon instead, knowing that we were looking for white water adventure. However it was a snoozer. The first half of the trip was a float, no white water, he should have told us this. After lunch we were supposed to hit the white water. Class 1 and 2's at best, The water level was too low and the guide high sided us 3 or 4 times. He didn't know how to navigate the river. All the times I rafted before the guide would tell us forward paddle, then tell us when to stop, of back paddle and then tell us to stop. this guide would tell us paddle forward 1, then if we paddled twice would yell at us "I said once". Then when we needed more would say forward 1, forward 1, forward 1. It was ridiculous. My husband finally asked him which side the rocks he wanted to go and he and I would paddle us through. We should have started that earlier. The best part of the trip was when we got out of the raft and took the rapids in our life jackets instead. I don't know if the section of the river is better when the water is higher, but he should have told us the water was too low for what we wanted. It was a waste of money, even at the discounted price they gave us. Had I know it was a snooze cruise, I would have saved my money and not gone rafting at all. They never should have promised us "The Numbers" if they had any doubts or asked how big the kids were. I feel they tricked us into booking with them (we would have booked a different section of the river out of Canon City had they not offered the numbers when I first called. We never wanted Brown's Canyon) Even the steak lunch was mediocre, the guide didn't know how to cook the steak! He asked everyone how they wanted their steak cooked, but didn't deliver, then cut up all the steak into bite sized pieces and mixed it all together, so much for my rare steak and my husband's medium well. We had to steal from each other's plates to get the right pieces.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
4 Thank Michelle S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Coby V, Manager at Buffalo Joe’s Rafting brought to you by River Runners, responded to this review, 8 June 2014
We appreciate your feedback about our company and apologize for your poor experience. We had no intention on misleading your group about our age restrictions on the Numbers section of the Arkansas River. Due to the 2013 low water level season, we were allowing younger ages on that section. However, when we deem an individual too small or unqualified to run a section of the river, have only safety in mind. We hope our customers trust our professional opinion in that matter. It is not worth the risk to run one of the most extreme sections on the Arkansas River in the area. Buffalo Joes' owners are born and raised in Buena Vista and have been rafting on the river for almost 40 years. They truly understand the importance of safety and are trusted advisors among the rafting community. We pride ourselves on being one of the safest and oldest operating rafting companies in Colorado. Unfortunately, the 2013 rafting season experienced record low water levels as Colorado was in a drought. Again, it was not our intention to mislead you in any way and hope you understand that we only had the safety of your family in mind. This 2014 season is a much more exciting season to come rafting on the Arkansas River with our higher water levels! We hope you can give the Arkansas River another shot!
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Dubuque, Iowa
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Great family first time trip!”
Reviewed 24 July 2013

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.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank BigDog2081
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jacksonville, Florida
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Not fantastic by any means”
Reviewed 23 July 2013

My son and I went on a rafting trip...he's 10 and was looking forward to some actual rafting. The water was calm and more like a leisurely stroll...our reservation was at 8:15a & we didn't get onto the water until 10a. They wi ll charge extra for EVERYTHING.. Water jackets are all extra. If you want one pic (cd only) 25.00 ranging up to 6 pics for a whopping extra 50bucks. They really "get" their customers with the extras. Our raft guide was probably the only thing decent about the trip...I would definitely consider going elsewhere and check what comes with the package (and if u have an older child looking for a river with some actual rapids...try somewhere else. There's only a couple spots on the river close to mentioning). There are also other rafting companies along the river which it would have been nice to avoid the van trip down and carrying of equipment and rafts.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Marie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Coby V, Manager at Buffalo Joe’s Rafting brought to you by River Runners, responded to this review, 8 June 2014
We appreciate your comments about your rafting experience with Buffalo Joe’s and apologize for the issues you had. Colorado experienced a drought in 2013 and the Arkansas River was running at really low levels making the rapids a little less exciting as in normal water level years. We always give our guests the option of renting river gear from us if they do not have adequate attire as the River can be frigid. It is much cheaper to rent a pair of water booties for $5 than go out and buy an expensive pair of water shoes for added comfort. Also, there is a whitewater photography company who takes pictures of all river outfitters on the Arkansas River. We display their pictures when all trips return from their adventure and charge for those according to industry standards. 2014 is currently experiencing great water levels with all the snow we received in the area! We certainly hope you come back to the area and enjoy the Arkansas River.
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