Frequently Asked Questions

Listed are Frequently Asked Questions about the Duck Race. Click on the question to find the answer.

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The Estes Park Duck Race is held annually on the first Saturday in May. This 36th Duck Race will be held on May 4th, 2024, and continues a tradition started in 1989 to support the local charities of the Estes Valley. See our Schedule page for a full list of events.
Each year, there are 60-70 non-profit groups that are selected to become the official Participating Organizations and Charities in the Duck Race Festival. The Rotary Club of Estes Park organizes the Duck Race Festival and handles all the administrative, operational, and financial aspects of the event. During the Duck Race “season,” people may “adopt” little yellow ducks for the Duck Race and designate the charity of their choice to receive the proceeds of their adoptions. Traditionally, the adopted ducks will be released to float down the Fall River in Estes Park on the day of the race. Volunteers at the Finish Line, near the Wheel Bar, collect the ducks and Prizes are awarded to the adopters of the ducks that win the Duck Race. After the race, the collected funds are distributed to the Participating Organizations and Charities on the basis of the number of duck adoptions credited to each benefitting group. Visit our Schedule page for details and directions.
This is when the fun begins. See our Schedule page for full details. There are bands and fun at the starting line prior to the start of the Duck Race. At 1pm, thousands of rubber ducks, one for each adoption, are released from a cage and dropped into Fall River. The river runs yellow with ducks! You can follow the ducks down the river for about 2 ½ miles to the finish line and watch the speedy ducks win Prizes! As the ducks cross the finish line, a volunteer crew fishes the winners out of the river and begins a real-time posting of the winners and Prizes. This action continues amidst many family fun activities at the finish line until all the Prizes (many hundreds of Prizes) have been awarded. Depending on the condition of the river, the Race may take anywhere from half an hour to four hours from start to finish. After the Duck Race is over, the list of winners and Prizes will be posted on this website. Festivities continue after the Race with live music and other entertainment until 4:00 p.m. at Riverside Plaza near the Finish Line.
The Duck Race didn’t raise any wimpy duckies! The Race is held in all kinds of weather and river conditions. It’s best to dress in layers since the weather can and will vary during Race Day.
It’s easy. Complete an Adoption Form on this website. This will include selecting the charity or nonprofit you want to receive $23 for each of your adoption(s), from the list of Participating Organizations. Your adopted duck will be entered into the event on Race Day. OPTIONAL: Gift the Duck Adoption! For each adoption, you can provide Name, Email, and Address of whose name we can put the adoption in. Great gift idea for family and friends giving them chances to win prizes! OR keep all the adoptions and chances to win to yourself by filling in your name and information for each adoption.
A single adoption is available for $25 and the local charity you select will receive $23 for each adoption. A Quack Pack allows you to adopt 5 ducks and get a 6th duck free, so you get an extra chance to win! The charity get $23 for every paid adoption!
You can gift on-line adoptions to other people. Click on “Is this race entry for someone other than the adoption purchaser?” Then, fill in the information for whom you wish to gift the adoption(s) including Name, Email, and Address next to each adoption you want give. The person whose name is filled in for each adoption gets the chance to win Prizes.
You adopt a duck for a fee of $25, and $23 for every duck you adopt will benefit the charity or organization you select at the time of adoption. This is a truly impressive return ratio that reflects the Rotary Club’s efforts to minimize the Duck Race costs and return the maximum amount of money to the charities.
No. There is no limit to the number of adoptions you can purchase. The website is designed to collect your information in a simple format that makes it easy for you to enter as many adoptions as you wish.
No. Duck Adoption purchases are not charitable donations and are not tax-deductible for income tax purposes because it makes you eligible to win a prize, as in a raffle, lottery, or game of chance.
Prize winners will be visible online on Race Day during and after the Race. Also Prize Winners will be posted to the Prizes of this website after the race. In accordance with IRS Guidelines, winners of $600 or more in prizes must provide a tax identification number to the Rotary Club of Estes Park to claim their prize. Any and all income taxes on all prizes are the sole responsibility of the winner.
Your chances depend on how many ducks are adopted and how many Prizes are to be awarded. As a rule of thumb, your chances of winning a Prize are about 1 chance in 20 but this is only an approximation and is not guaranteed.
No. All winners will be notified by email from the Estes Park Rotary Duck Race . Please make sure that our emails do not end up in your spam folder.
Each Charity has a unique QR Code that will help take you directly to their online Duck Adoption form for fast and easy adopting. Simply, use you smartphone’s camera, point it at the QR Code and the organizations URL will appear. Tap it and you are on the way to supporting the charity that provided you with the QR Code!
All online orders are input directly into the Duck Race database. At the completion of your online order, you will receive a confirmation of the order on your web browser and in the inbox of the email you provided that you may print out if you wish to keep a hard copy confirmation of your adoption order. After your adoption order is confirmed, your little yellow ducks are all primed and ready for the Race! NOTE You do not need to be present at the race nor do you need to have your order confirmation with you on race day.
We love to have people involved! Please check out our Get Involved page or contact us at and we’ll talk about it.
The Estes Park Duck Race continues a tradition started in 1989 to support the local charities of the Estes Valley. In 1989, Estes Park didn’t have a United Way or any other organized way to collect and distribute funds to needy organizations in town. Then, one day, four businessmen in town, Stan Pratt, Nick Kane, Mike McDonald, and Steve Nagl were having coffee and were discussing that very issue. They were also brainstorming on ideas for extending the “shoulder season” in Estes so that the merchants could have a better business season. Stan mentioned that he had seen a neat duck race up in Oregon and it seemed like it was a lot of fun and a good way to bring the tourists to town for a festival. Not only that, it seemed like a good way to raise money for the charitable organizations in town. Looked like a natural winner. Mike said. “Well, we’ve got a river that runs right through the main part of town.” Nick chimed in with, “We could start the race at my restaurant.” And Steve added, “The finish line could be at my place.” And, that’s how the Duck Race started. From that small beginning, the Estes Park Duck Race has grown to be one of the top 5 Duck Races in Colorado and now enjoys enormous popularity with 5-7 thousand ducks being adopted and hundreds of Prizes for the lucky winners. Our Duck Race has become the second oldest continuing Duck Race in the United States. Go to our About page to see a wonderful video from Duck Race Staff vets.
When purchasing duck adoptions, if the organization or charity has individual sellers that are benefiting from the adoptions, make sure to credit them as you check out. Only when you choose an organization with this option will you see, “Is there a seller who should get credit for your purchase?”. Please fill in the name of your seller and that name will appear on the report provided to the organization. As an example, if you selected Eagle Rock School, and the name that you wish to credit is Jane Doe, Jane Doe’s name will be associated with your generous adoption. This feature supports organizations that wish to recognize their sellers’ efforts. If you don’t know or don’t have a seller’s name, your donation will still go to the organization you selected.

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