We set out to discover the answer to an important question: which packs the biggest thrills, a Via Ferrata course or a whitewater rafting trip?

“Well, that depends, are you more thrilled by water, or heights?” comments Mads, one of our Granite outpost guides.

These two adventures both pack a thrill but provide completely different experiences. Our Granite Via Ferrata course near Buena Vista is built at the base of the 14,000+ foot amazing Collegiate Peaks. This adventure is one you’ll remember and treasure for a long time. Rafting on the Arkansas can be enjoyed in several different classes from Class III on Browns Canyon to Class IV on The Numbers or even Class V on Pines Creek.

Rafting the numbers

What if I am Afraid of Heights?

Acrophobia, the fear of heights, affects almost 6% of the population. Our guides are trained not only in Via Ferrata techniques but working with guests of all skill levels and abilities. If you ever feel uncomfortable on the course, please let your guide know, and they will use their knowledge and skills to get you back on track.

girl on tightrope of via ferrata

What if I’m not a Strong Swimmer?

At lower water levels, our Browns Canyon Class III trip on the Arkansas River is appropriate for those that are not strong swimmers. Class III means that rapids exist, but there are breaks in between to give you some time to relax. We also provide helmets and Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) that will protect you, just in case you end up in the water. Our guides are well-trained in techniques to quickly get you back in the boat if this were to happen. Guide training occurs in partnership with the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), in which guides end up taking up to 200 hours–an amount well over the minimum required by the State of Colorado.

group rafting on browns canyon

Both adventures have physical demands, paddling or climbing, and will require some upper body strength and exertion. According to most guides, the challenges presented can be similar in difficulty but differ in execution. Our Granite Via Ferrata course in Buena Vista proves intense but in a different way from rafting the steepest sections of the Arkansas, such as on The Numbers trip. This trip can get technical, requiring obstacle navigation, while conquering a Via Ferrata requires concentration and precision when climbing.

girl on Via Ferrata course

The question it comes down to: are you more exhilarated by the rushing water? Or walking a tightrope and ziplining with beautiful views of the Arkansas River?

Rafting guide of 20 years, Randy, guides Class V, kayaks Class IV and V whitewater, and thinks our Via Ferrata packs way more thrill than rafting because he’s afraid of heights!

“I know our equipment is sound and our guides are safe, but I like to challenge myself with heights and this is an awesome way to overcome that fear in a safe environment,” he says.

man hanging off Via Ferrata

“You have the moments where you’re hanging over big cliffs on the Via Ferrata, but the Ark is incredible, Pine Creek is a force of nature, it’s really cool,” adds Katie our Sales Department Manager and avid adventurer. “They’re both intense in their own ways, but The Ark is something special. Browns Canyon is a beautiful national monument, Pine Creek can get super gnarly and fun. I really like land-based activities, and I get a little scared on the water so rafting is more thrilling for me” she says.

In conclusion, it’s really up to you!

Josh, an Aerial Adventure Guide says, “Every adventure has its unique thrill. To me, rafting is like riding a roller coaster but better because you are surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of nature. That experience is different than the adrenaline rush of walking on the tightrope or scaling the rock walls of the Via Ferrata.”

The Numbers

So, what really packs the biggest thrill? Doing both on the same day! Check out our Rafting and Via Ferrata packages to discover for yourself which activity proves more thrilling!

Written by Tiffany Weber, Contributing Member of the Sales and Marketing team

Edited by Rosa Canales, Marketing Specialist