Bear Basin Packtrips, LLC
473 County Road 271
Westcliffe, CO 81252
719-783-2519 (phone)
866-244-4691 (fax)
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Details Surf and Turf Pack Trip

An introduction to mountain camping and travel by horseback and two days of premiere whitewater rafting.
For beginner to experienced riders.


A fantastic combo: three days of riding high country trails followed by two days of rafting the wild Arkansas River. This wilderness journey is for both experienced and beginning riders. The horses are sure-footed, no nonsense and willing. We assign a personal horse and teach how to saddle, picket and care for it while packhorses are loaded. Mountain riding techniques are taught as we travel. Our philosophy is simple; the more you know about your horse and equipment, the more you will enjoy your vacation. Although the distance we travel each day is not far, the riding is adventurous and along steep trails with spectacular scenery. Along the way, we’ll share with you our extensive knowledge of local geology, plants, history and the principles of minimal-impact camping. Those who have never ridden before particularly enjoy this trip as an excellent learning experience. Advanced riders enjoy the additional hands-on experience and scenic country of this little known area of Colorado.

After three days of fun and fantasy on horseback, it is back to civilization where a hot shower, sit-down dinner, and soft bed await. The next morning, it’s on to the Arkansas River for a thrilling ride through the churning waters of Brown’s Canyon, followed the next day by a memorable trip along Colorado’s best stretch of whitewater through the world-renowned Royal Gorge (for young or less intrepid guests, we can arrange a less demanding alternative). A Friday evening return also gives you and your friends and family time for a weekend exploration of historic Colorado Springs.

Participants should be in good physical condition. On our packtrip portion, camps are usually placed between 9,000-10,000 feet with day rides going as high as 13,000 or more feet in elevation. For the river portion, no previous experience is necessary. However, there is an age limit of 18 and over for the Royal Gorge section which we raft the second day on the river. Kids 13-18 will be rafting Brown’s Canyon both days. There is some flexibility depending on water level. If a child less than 13 years wishes to participate in this trip, prior approval must be arranged. For all activities, guests should be in good health and moderately good physical condition.


Day 1: Meeting at the Colorado Springs Hotel, we drive two hours west. Leaving the flatlands behind, we drive high into the heart of the Rockies. The granite backbone of the massive Sangre de Cristo Range dominates the western horizon as we reach our trailhead on the eastern slope of the mountains. As our pack string is carefully loaded with duffels and supplies, one of the two colorful wrangler-guides picked for your adventure will give you detailed instructions on riding, saddling and care of your mount. Setting out around midday, we wind up through aspen groves, Gambel Oak and Lodgepole Pine, up and into a long glaciated valley. The trail is almost lost as we work around downfall Englemann Spruce, fording the tumbling stream that gurgles down toward the Arkansas River and eventually the Mississippi. A dark Tassel-eared Squirrel chatters indignantly as we pass. Higher up, a cow elk with her ungainly calf in tow ambles across a meadow lush with purple larkspur and yellow composites. We set camp near a meadow surrounded by high ridges and glacier chiseled summits towering skyward above. The horses are picketed out. The tents are up in carefully selected flat areas well away from each other and the small campfire is glowing cheerfully as we sip hot drinks while awaiting dinner.

Day 2: The aroma of brewing coffee and the fluttering of Steller’s Jays signals the start of the day. Some will be up to greet the rising sun, others enjoy the leisure of a no-stress morning, awaiting the enticing smell of a traditional cowboy breakfast to tempt them from the warm comfort of bedroll and tent. Following the second pot of coffee, we saddle up for a day of exploration. Leaving camp and pack horses behind we may ride up the valley in search of an emerald green lake above. Or perhaps we press on, over the barren high pass, beyond the last wind-twisted Bristlecone Pine for a breathtaking view of the great San Luis valley to the west.

DAY 3: Up early, we help break camp, catch the horses, pack loads. Now a seasoned, trained outfit, we are soon moving across the meadow and down the valley. Thunderclouds threaten so we hasten along, stopping only to check chinches and loads. Dropping into the heavily timbered low country, we raise our collars and tighten our hats as the high ridges erupt in claps of rolling thunder and electric display. We are back at the road too soon, awaiting transport to our lodging near the Arkansas River. Hot showers and beds await.

DAY 4: After an early meal, we drive to Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River for a wild ride down one of the state’s premier whitewater runs. Working together, you’ll master the art of paddling through the rapids. Guides in each boat make sure safety comes first. During the day you’ll conquer rapids such as Zoom Flume, Raft Ripper, Widow Maker, and Seidels Suckhole. You’ll have lunch along the river, and after the trip everyone will be transported back to our comfortable retreat for drinks and dinner.

DAY 5: Again, we head out early to another wild section of the Arkansas. Now that everyone has rafting experience, we challenge the best continuous section of whitewater in Colorado. This 20-mile trip runs right through the famous Royal Gorge. Rapids named Sunshine, The Wall, Sledgehammer, Squeeze Box, and Corner Pocket will leave you hollering for more. After a full day, we’ll meet the van with everyone’s gear and travel back to Colorado Springs.

** THIS IS A SAMPLE ITINERARY. Based upon guests’ needs and experience, we have designed custom programs to offer more intensive instruction, additional days, more difficult routes, etc. We have designed programs for many groups and organizations and would be happy to work with yours.(PLEASE SEE CUSTOM TRIPS).

* Due to factors beyond our control, we occasionally find it necessary to change the order or the route of these activities. Water levels on the River vary constantly, so we make every effort to make your white water experience both safe and exciting by offering alternatives such as duckying at lower water levels, or rafting alternate river runs at severe high water levels.

At the end of your trip you will be brought back to the hotel sometime between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. We recommend making prior lodging reservations if you plan to spend the night. If you must fly out that evening, please do not schedule a flight before 8:30 p.m., to make certain you can make your flight.

Surf ‘n Turf Five-Day Adventure Riding and Rafting Trip – $1250 ($200 per person surcharge if only 3 people are signed up by launch date)
Includes horses, guides, meals, tents, & instruction.
A 3% Forest Service Use fee will be added to the cost.

Start Dates: June 3, 10, 17, July 1 & 8. Other dates may be available upon request.

Phone: 719.783.2519
Fax: 866.244.4691

Items listed on the equipment list, alcoholic beverages, and tips are excluded. Tipping is at your discretion, of course. Please direct your tip to the lead guide. Standard in the industry is 10-15% of the trip cost. We now require all guests to leave their pets at home for their safety and the safety of other guests.


    Time: 7:30 am on the first morning of the trip
    Radisson Inn, Colorado Springs Airport – 1645 N. Newport Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80916
    Please meet in the lobby with your duffel bag, and with your day pack or saddlebags packed.
    Transportation to the Ranch: Travel to and from the Ranch in our van
    Time: 9:00 am on the first morning of the trip
    Bear Basin Ranch; 473 County Road 271; Westcliffe, CO 81252
    Please meet at the ranch with your duffel bag, and with your day pack or saddlebags packed.
    Transportation to the Ranch: Drive to the Ranch in your car


Hotel: We recommend the Radisson Inn – Colorado Springs Airport on 1645 N. Newport Rd. in Colorado Springs.
719.597.7000 or 800.333.3333
Mention you are with Bear Basin Ranch to receive the special discount rate!

Or, if you would like to stay somewhere locally in Westcliffe, we recommend the Westcliffe Inn
Phone: 719.783.9275
( or there are several other hotels and Inns if you go looking!) Westcliffe is 11 miles west on Hwy 96 from the Ranch.

Air: Most major airlines serve Colorado Springs daily.

Car: You can drive to the Radisson Inn – Colorado Springs Airport and, with prior notice, leave your car in the parking lot while on the trip. Arrangements can also be made to drive to Bear Basin Ranch outside of Westcliffe, CO. Let us know and we will send you details and a map.

Directions: Bear Basin Ranch is approximately 65 miles southwest of Colorado Springs.
Head south on Interstate 25 to the Tejon/Canon City Exit in Colorado Springs.
urn left from the exit over to Nevada Avenue (Hwy 115) and then right on Nevada heading south to Florence (about 35 miles).
In Florence turn left at the light (Carl’s Jr.) onto Hwy 67 again heading south to Wetmore.
At Wetmore turn right at the T-intersection onto Hwy 96 heading west.
Watch the mile markers. Our turn is at the 11 mile marker, turn right (north) onto County Rd 271.
Go one quarter mile to Bear Basin Ranch on the left. Check in to the office (first log cabin on the right).

** Map to Bear Basin Ranch.

Bus: Greyhound serves Colorado Springs on a daily scheduled basis.
Phone: 719.292.6111.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance when you book a trip. This can reimburse you if you need to cancel last minute due to sickness or other trip emergencies.

___ Swimsuit
___ 2 pr. long
___ 2 pr. shorts
___ 1 heavy long sleeve (cotton is cold when wet) sweater (wool or synthetic)
___ 1 lightweight long sleeve
___ 1 short sleeve
___ 3 T-shirts or tank tops
___ Underwear
___ Long underwear bottoms or biker shorts (to combat saddle sores)
___ Boots for riding (lightweight narrower hiking boots are more versatile)
___ Tennis shoes or something similar for around camp
___ Socks — 4 or 5 pairs of heavy cotton or wool
___ Bandana
___ Warm parka or jacket
___ Windproof outer jacket (optional)
___ Two piece rain suit (slicker with rain pants) NO PONCHOS PLEASE (essential!)
___ Gloves (for warmth)
___ Hat with brim for sun, hail, and snow
protection (must have some form of stampede string if wearing while riding)
___ Wool hat (for warmth)
___ Clothes to wear for two casual evenings out to dinner

RIVER Normally you would wear a swimsuit and nylon or synthetic shorts. You will be provided with a water resistant spray jacket and life jacket. Have a wool or synthetic sweater available and warm wool or synthetic socks to wear with tennis shoes or tevas that can get wet. Polypropylene or fleece is perfect water wear to keep you warm. Do not wear long cotton pants or cotton shorts as they are cold when wet. If the weather is stormy, wetsuits and neoprene bootieswill be provided for you. A semidry storage bag accompanies each raft for storing extra clothing, or clothing can be left in a bag at the take-out.

Other Items
___ Duffel bag or sea bag (to pack items onto packhorses — must be soft-sided)
___ Day pack or saddle bags (to carry things during the day)
___ Warm sleeping bag (good at least to 30° F. – we can rent bags if reserved in advance)
___ Foam pad or air mattress (such as a CampRest or ThermoRest)
___ Sunglasses (all glasses must have string/elastic strap)
___ Pocket knife
___ Flashlight
___ Canteen or plastic water bottle
___ Towel & washcloth
___ Biodegradable soap
___ Toothbrush and paste
___ Sun screen
___ Lip balm
___ Mirror
___ Comb
___ Hand lotion
___ Shaving kit
___ Personal medication
___ Insect repellent (few bugs at the ranch but sometimes at the river)
___ Candy, gum or tobacco items
___ Camera and extra film (you may wish to include a disposable waterproof camera for river/rainy days)
___ Note pad, guides & field glasses
___ Cocktail liquor (placed in unbreakable containers)
___ Cash for incidentals, tips, alcohol, etc.
___ Fishing gear (collapsible rod is best)

Pack your gear into your duffel bag and daypack
, and a third bag, if you so choose, for the rafting portion of your trip. The maximum weight allowable for your duffel bag is 40 pounds (for the sake of the packhorses.) Your duffel bag will not be available during the day. Your daypack or saddlebags should hold rain gear, water bottle, gloves and other items you will want during the day. Your guide will show you how to best strap it to your saddle. Line the duffel and day bag with a garbage bag or ziplock. Any gear that you do not take on the packtrip but wish to take with you for the rafting portion of your trip, you can leave safely at the Ranch. Pack this gear in a separate bag marked with your name.

The weather is unpredictable; it can snow even in August, so be prepared for anything. Use the layer system of clothing, where items can be added or taken off with changes in temperature. On May, June or September trips snow and hail are common. The most important thing to bring is your cheerful acceptance of whatever surprises the wilderness may hold in store!

** A 3% National Forest User Fee will be assessed to each participant for the days in the National Forest.