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Old 04-07-2009   #1
Knoxville, Tennessee
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 8
Planning a trip from TN to CO. Is May 15-24 too early?

The Crested Butte Creeks are on our '10 most wanted list'. I actually lived in CB during the spring/summer of 2001, but I can't remember when those roads became accessible. We ain't afraid to hike up OBJ or Daisy if we can get to their confluences with the Slate in vehicle and the roads up the creeks are at least managable on foot.

Also planning/hoping/considering Upper Animas, Numbers, maybe Royal Gorge, Clear Creek (Ark), Castle into Roaring Fork, Frying Pan (if we're so lucky), maybe Crystal Mill Falls, maybe Homestake and Gillman, Left Hand, Alto Alto, Bailey to Pine, maybe a section of Clear Creek, and maybe a a couple of sections of the Main Poudre (would love to get Big South, but I know the roads won't be open that early in the year ).

We may also be able to do the trip June 5 -14, but those dates don't work out quite as well. So is Mid-May too early?

Thanks for your help. It is appreciated,

Alex Z.
Knoxville, TN

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Old 04-07-2009   #2
IkayakNboard's Avatar
, Colorado
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 169
Different drainages pop at different times, but for CO as a whole, I would say mid-may is too early, especially with the recent cold weather and snowfall. Typically late June is peak, but that might equate to 'too high' for some creeks, all done for others. I think you would have more options and better quality with your June dates, but it really all boils down to the unpredictable weather...so it's difficult to say.

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Old 04-07-2009   #3
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 94
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 176
i don't know if it will be peaking, but it won't be bad. Definitelty plenty of water.

as far as late june, in my opinion that is too late. usually by fibark (june 15) everything is on its way down. At least that's been the case the past 3 years.

looks like from the graph peak is late may early june, but I's can't read da graph.
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Old 04-07-2009   #4
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Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,507
central wyo has a couple creeks that will be going at that time. probably to far for you. though good luck.
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Old 04-07-2009   #5
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 749
I just wanted to say that alto-alto is not worth it - if you have a limited amount of time there are many better places for you to be, I have never done left hand but I think there is the same consensus for that run. Instead run lower south boulder creek close to the same area and better quality. Also Gore is a classic in the same difficulty level as the runs you listed and it should be running - might be on the high side though.
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Old 04-07-2009   #6
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
Mid May is NOT too early its perfect. I'll be on the Upper Animas starting May 2.

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Old 04-07-2009   #7
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
I think the June dates would have a better chance of delivering better flows for you. There will be water in mid to late may, but when you get here, things will likely be low and you could easily be running around looking for water. The June dates give you a better shot at getting more water, and most of the runs you listed, more is better.

The snowpack is decent, so the water will be there, its just a matter of when it gets hot enough to melt it. Some years it gets hot early and we get a first "peak" around memmorial day. Some years, it takes a while to heat up and things are still kinda low in may, and don't get going until June. Last year may 15, nothing on the front range was really running, and the arkansas was low. I think you run a high chance of low water if you show up May 15th. With that said, cool weather can roll in during early June and pinch back the flows too. No gaurantees either way, but statistically speaking June will be better.

I've been to the roaring fork the last several memmorial day weekends, and it always seems to jump up in June after I'm gone, and I'm wishing I had more flow in May.

I agree to ditch alto alto and left hand. Left hand probably won't be running, and alto alto is way lower quality than runs like bailey, slaugherhouse, clear creek of the ark etc. I know the book calls it some of the best class IV near boulder, but if you are looking at running stuff like OBJ, you will likely be underwhelmed by alto unless its raging.

In general, late may much of the rivers are on the rise, and June is peak month. Most peaks seem to be around mid june plus or minus a week or so either way.

I'd suggest you click over on the flows page here, and sort through the eddyflower listing of the runs you want to do. Most of the runs have links to gauges, and you can look through historical data on the gauges and get a better feel for what the flows have been historically.

Also, when you get here, check the buzz for updates on flows, hooking up with other boaters etc.
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Old 04-07-2009   #8
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 505
New Mexico. It's hard to top the Embudo.
Grif for President!
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Old 04-07-2009   #9
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 187
Late May is great and agree with Mania, Upper A. usually will be rocking around the 25th. Lots of those central CO creeks may still be locked in snow or they could be starting to melt fast and flowing very big. There are so many variables with snowpack / runoff here in Colorado that having a set agenda is not gonna make a perfect road trip. Be ready to change your plan and have your computer ready to make day to day decisions. I'm not gonna give you an itinerary cuz you seem to know enough. Just be flexible and ready to adapt. Also down here in Durango, Piedra should be flowing and the Dolores' stampede section should have a good flow too... Embudo is sweet, that will be rockin' ; they have over 80" at Taos and the Truches have a lot of snow too. SYOTR
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Old 04-07-2009   #10
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Phuoc My, Da Nang, THE 'NAM
Paddling Since: 1845
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,988
late may for CB might not be too much of an improbability, our snow is pretty brown and nasty, if it stays relatively warm for the next couple of weeks out melt could start pretty quick

"Don't f$&@ing eddy out, just run it! Whaddya doin??" -LMyers
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