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Old 06-02-2012   #1
colorado, Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 84
Chama Canyon experiences at low flows?

Me and two friends are set to launch on the Chama Canyon section in New Mexico next Sunday for a few days. I have heard that the weekend is the time to do it due to jacked up flows from the damn. However, I dont have a permit for the weekend.

Anyone out there done the Chama in a smaller but loaded raft in low to lower flows? The BLM seems to be quite vague about the experience in lower flows when I have asked, go figure. thanks much!

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Old 06-02-2012   #2
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 47
Not mid-week

Unless you have a 12' or smaller boat, I wouldn't try it.

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Old 06-02-2012   #3
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Gypsum, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 458
When we planned our mid-week trip the BLM’s Taos Field Office was a great help. They were aware of releases of water from the dam and they also put us in touch with a shuttle company. You will also need a permit for mid-week so give them a call.
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Old 06-02-2012   #4
snakester's Avatar
Mesa, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 161
Listen to name & bail on that trip & go do ruby horsethief. There's plenty of water for a float trip down there.
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Old 06-03-2012   #5
Ponchalida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 32
we did 2 12' oar rafts with normal camp gear for 3 days at 400-440 cfs at the end of april with no problems. the day stretch was bony but very do able. It was super shallow in places but always enough water. Below 400 would be my personal cutoff however due to lack of current and constant rock dodging. hope this helps.
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Old 06-03-2012   #6
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
Rio Chama flows depend on El Vado dam release and no one knows what they will be or if they do, it is not easily published is my observation. Check with the BLM in Taos Office for best guess.

Was just out there on Rio Chama May 23,24, 25. One hardshell kayak, two IK kayaks and one 13 ft NRS for heavy gear with just the oarsman no passengers. Expected to get cancelled, but out of the blue, a 900 cfs release happened. Which is about perfect for floating.

One of my raft buds was out there and did from the Dam to Chavez Access last year at around or maybe a bit less than 400 cfs in a 13 ft NRS raft. Said he would never do it again at that level. BLM Taos Office recommended 600 cfs to us for rafts a bit less for IK and kayaks. I believe 600 is a great cutoff and have done it in rafts at that level and felt it was a neat scenic run but would not vote yes on even 600 for a fun run as I remember a lot of shoals that we got over but more rubbing on my raft bottom than I like.

Lots of opinions here and most are good. My advice is check with the Taos NM BLM office and ask them. If at or below 600 cfs, think about it and if you go cut down to a very light boat and put normal raft riders in IK or kayaks to lighten the load on the gear boats.

Rio Chama is one of my favorite little western river runs. Highly recommended.
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Old 06-03-2012   #7
albuquerque, New Mexico
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 134
According to the BLM website, the chama will be turned up to 900 until further notice to fulfill water rights requirements farther south.
Check the guages, and definitely call BLM, but it should be good to go next week, and probably even all summer. We floated last week at this level and it's really perfect.
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Old 06-03-2012   #8
The Old Troll
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Gypsum, Colorado
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Posts: 458
Have a great trip.
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Old 06-04-2012   #9
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,112
Did it in November in canoes.pretty boney. Don't know if that helps or not.

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