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 31st Duck Race will be held on May 4th, 2019, 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. 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 near the Wheel Bar at the end of the race, and on this website.
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. There are three ways to adopt a duck. (1.) Fill out a Duck Race Adoption Form supplied by a Participating Organization or Charity and return it to that group; (2.) Drop by any participating merchant, business, the Estes Park Visitor Center, or our Duck Central office in the Estes Valley and obtain an Adoption Form. Return it to the address on the form OR return to Duck Central in the Lake Estes Room at The Ridgeline Hotel, 101 South Saint Vrain Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517; (3.) Complete an Adoption Form on this website. Additionally, you can also adopt a duck while signed into your Facebook account from our Facebook store. 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.

If you choose to fill out an Adoption Form as a printed form, the cost is $20 per adoption. If you choose to use this website or our Facebook store for adoptions, we charge an additional $2 to cover the online processing costs. In either case, the local charity you select will receive $19 for each adoption.
You can gift on-line adoptions to other people. First, you fill out your billing information with your name and billing address. After that, 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’s name filled in next to each adoption gets the chance to win Prizes. To gift a printed adoption form, simply fill in the information for whom you wish to gift the adoption, giving them the chance to win prizes.
Each charity receives 95% of the money collected from the adoptions that people indicated should be credited to them. 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. For the Adoption Forms supplied as a printed form, there is no limit to the number of forms you can purchase. Note that we can offer you some simple methods for filling out the Adoption Forms if you choose a lot of forms and don’t wish to fill out every single form with the same information. Contact us at for details on bulk purchases. If you choose to use the website or our Facebook page to purchase your forms, there is no limit to the number of forms 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.
Prizes are listed on Race Day during and after the Race near the Wheel Bar. Also Prize Winners will be posted to the Prizes page 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 7 but this is only an approximation and is not guaranteed.
No. All winners will be notified by email from the Rotary Club. Please make sure that our emails do not end up in your spam folder.
Fill out the form completely and return in one of three ways. (1.) Give the form and a $20 check to one of the local participating charities (listed on the form) or, (2.) bring the form and $20 to Duck Central, The Ridgeline Hotel, 101 South Saint Vrain Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517, or (3.) mail the form and a $20 check to the Estes Park Duck Race, PO Box 1226, Estes Park, Colorado 80517. Note that the Duck Central Team must receive the form no later than 5:00 pm on May 3rd, 2019 at Duck Central. See our Contact page for Duck Central opening and hours.
All online orders are input directly into the Duck Race master database. There is no need for printed adoption forms since it is an order going into the database. At the completion of your online order, you will receive a confirmation of the order on your web browser and in your inbox of the email you provided that you may print out if you wish to keep a hard copy confirmation of your order. After your 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.
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 on-line, 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 the field show up. 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, the name that you wish to credit is Jane Doe, Jane Doe’s name will be provided with your generous adoption. This feature supports organizations that wish to recognize their seller’s efforts. If you don’t know or don’t have a seller’s name, your donation will go to the organization you selected.

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