While many in the Rockies – and across the country for that matter – are still dealing with snow and ice, and many of us are still checking off hut trips and ski days, you can bet that river outfitters are starting to look very closely at their spring calendars and taking bets on the effects of spring run-off.Boats parked

For those of you who are also starting to look at the summer calendar and planning those annual float trips, here’s an outfitter that is guaranteed to offer an authentic and meaningful river experience in a slightly non-traditional way. Let me take that back – it’s actually very traditional. It’s just not your typical rubber-bumping, rapid-bashing rafting trip so many of us have become accustomed to.

As the name implies, Centennial Canoes runs Western rivers in canoes, not rafts, and it makes for an intimate, involved, and rewarding river experience that every person, family, or couple should check off the list at some point.

Marty Genereux and wife Julie bought Centennial Canoe back in 2000. The company was already 15 years old at the time and the couple had been on trips with them and simply fell in love with the idea. Now nearly 30 years old, the business pays not only their salaries, but supports a group of guides that are extremely special within the river running world.

“We have guides that have been with us for more than 20 years,” said Genereux.  “ They’re older and mature adults that have great people skills and interact well with other adults. They love introducing people to the backcountry and the outdoors, and at the end of the day, watching kids (and adults) roast marshmallows around the campfire makes it all worth it.”

“Centennial Canoe could be considered a niche business,” Genereux continued as we spoke on the banks of the Colorado River last summer. “People around the country tend to equate western rivers with big rapids and rafting. A lesser known fact are the canoe-able rivers through remote and gorgeous canyons. We offer trips on calmer rivers and leave the big-water stuff to the rafting companies.”

Instead of cheap thrills, Centennial focuses on safety, incredible scenery and great food. “Our trips are multi-day rather than the day-trips you find on the Arkansas River, in the Buena Vista area of Colorado for example,” Genereux said. “This makes for a completely different experience that includes seeing wildlife, sunsets, hiking and exploring, campfires and sleeping under the stars.”

Another differentiating factor of a Centennial Canoe trip is that the trips are “hands-on.”

“You put up your own tent, you’re welcome to help in the kitchen, and you’re welcome to carry gear or help build a fire, but it’s not required,” Genereux said. This allows guests to not only learn a few things, but to get a more authentic and involved experience out of their river trip.

“In a canoe, you’re the captain, and there’s always something to do.  It’s like riding a bike and you decide where to go and how fast.  It keeps your mind engaged and offers a challenge.  Paddling a canoe is a skill that lasts a lifetime. Kind of like an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long time,” Genereux says. “Within minutes, it all comes back to you.”

fire ring canoes

Here is a link to all Centennial trips this summer.

This summer the outfitter is offering a one-day trip on a new section of the Colorado River near State Bridge that’s ideal for first time paddlers on July 19. It will fill up fast so book now. Centennial also specializes in group trips co-sponsored by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where participants are accompanied by scientists who engage the group on subjects such as bird watching, history, astronomy and archeology. There’s also trips focused on healing, food and beverage pairings, and wildlife. Centennial can even take you sea kayaking.