NEAR CAÑON CITY, Colo. - There's a wave of excitement for a better rafting season near the Royal Gorge. Rafting companies suffered last year (Summer 2013) with the Royal Gorge Park and Bridge fire.
"The weather can be a little unpredictable this time of the year, but it's always fun," said Royal Gorge Rafting and Zipline Tours co-owner Jimmy Whiteside.
The unpredictable Royal Gorge fire last year hurt the Arkansas River Valley.
"It drove a lot of business away actually for a lot of outfitters," said Whiteside.
It's a business that thrives on tourists and locals.
"The rafting industry in the Cañon City area and all through the Arkansas River Valley is extremely important to the economy, surrounding businesses. We're seasonal so we have a lull in the winter, but in the summer it's the lifeblood of the area," said Whiteside.
That lifeblood was running low, but the expectation for this season is optimistic.
"The runoff should be spectacular this year. A lot of water, we should see high water," said Whiteside. "This year's definitely a fresh start for us. Great snowpack and it's going to be really exciting."
Whiteside said when the river is running well it brings a lot of people to the area and the state in general.
Royal Gorge Rafting is open for rafting on Tuesday (4/15/14). Some of its competitors open on May 1st, while others have already started taking rafters for rides.