Originally Posted by vardaddy
Planning to do Cataract canyon the second week in April and wanted to know any info you have on what to expect as far as the river lines/difficulties and also weather?
Looks to be right now at 13,000 cfs and going up. I've heard people say it is a big class 3 but information I read puts it more in a class 4. Trying to figure out what I'm in store for in my kayak mostly class 3 or 4?
Ratings are always a little subjective, and are subject to sandbagging. I've done it at a bunch of different levels and here's my take:
Its definitely 95% class 3 with a couple class 4's. Big Drop 3 is a class 4 at any level, but there are several easy lines that work, with more lines at higher levels, but bigger holes too. I would say "hell to Pay" (15 or 16?) is also a class 4- because you actually have to maneuver through it, with consequences, at most levels. Above 20 or 25 K or so Big Drop 2 starts to come into play (scout it at any level if you've never seen it) and becomes the most formidable drop on the river with a good chance of swimming Big Drop 3 if you blow it. The holes in BD 2 are absolutely massive at higher levels. We've flipped a couple rafts at lower levels in rapid 5's surprise hole, but I wouldn't rate it a IV.
If it stays around 15k or lower its not as big and is mostly just good Class III fun with a little technical maneuvering and BD 3 is probably the only 4
Its less technical in a kayak than a raft, but you may flip quite a bit (I did), especially in a play boat, because it is big, pushy water that likes to grab your ends.
Some people say it becomes Class V at very high levels (50 k+). The ranger hangs out below BD3 in a motorized pontoon fishing for people once it hits these levels because rafts have a pretty good chance of flipping in either Big Drop 2 or 3 and theres no stopping in between. See vids on NPS site.
Watch for good surf waves. Rapid 10 usually has one.
Weather has been beautiful in the area: 80s. Hopefully it will hold.
Water won't be very warm.