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Old 03-12-2010   #1
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 328
Plans for the season


I am relatively new to colorado boating (2 seasons) and also have a very poor memory so I don't have a really good idea of when the various runs have water in them. However, I am trying to plan out my season so I can make the most of it.

What class IV-V runs have water in them in the spring, middle of summer and late in the summer? Which runs have short seasons that are really good? I am basically trying to get a calender going of what to run and when.

Anybody care to share what they are planning on running when the water starts flowing? By the way I live near Boulder and so will mostly be paddling stuff on the front range.

Last season I ran Black Rock, Lower Clear Creek, Gore, Boulder Creek, Big Thompson (not the gnar), Big South (portaged a lot), Spencer Heights, Joe Wright (sort of), Bailey, Pine Creek/Numbers, North Saint Vrain Proving Grounds, South Saint Vrain easy stuff, and probably some other stuff that I forgot.

So what should I hit up this season and when? I am interested in hearing other peoples plans. Thanks.

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Old 03-12-2010   #2
yourrealdad's Avatar
185 lb. waste of space, Keeping Glenwood Springs real
Paddling Since: 1864
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 917
Go where the snow melts, when it melts. You can't make a solid plan but look up in Whitewater of the Southern Rockies and it usually gives a window of flow. Each year is different and while sometimes very similar there can be times when it is off completely. Last year was a pretty weird snow melt and I am guessing so will this year, with the lack of snow and the hopefully late season El Nino precip.

I tried to plan out the melt for my bike trip last year and while most of it went well the south had a odd melt and kinda messed stuff up. If you have a car and time though you should be able to hit it all.

I am sure someone will get on here with the general melt scenarios, I am just too lazy tonight,

970-217-21 six six
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Old 03-12-2010   #3
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
It depends on how far you want to travel. My two cents would be...

Season opener at escalante creek. It usually runs last week of april or first week of may, but has a very short window (couple of weeks). It gets going before most of the rest of the state. Super fun IV/V creek. When its going lots of people will be there. Big early season party weekend when flows are good. Its 5 hours west of boulder on the west slope. Excellent weekend trip not to be missed. Not too hardcore that you can't run it off the couch.

Most of the entire state is going from mid may to about mid july, with june being primo. Just about everything is running in all drainages. Sometimes thing are just starting out mid may, and might not unleash until a week or so later. Count on having something fun to paddle on the front range from late may to mid july. You sampled a fair bit of the front ranges best water. Either look to repeat that or maybe branch out a bit further.

Big south put in road is closed until july 4 weekend. They have been opening it up july 4th weekend the last several years. Great weekend to get up to the poudre then.

Crested butte is a great place to hit for creeking. Late may or early june are good bets there. Its about 5 hrs from Denver, but its an incredible paddling stop. Take the lady down there for a weekend in the mountains and drop waterfalls and slides in the afternoon.

Another fun early season run is homestake/gilman gorge. Seems to get going a little bit before the front range if you are ready to go but the front range is still too low.

After mid july things start to dry up... Gore canyon runs pretty regularly through the fall. Gore canyon race is the 3rd weekend in august usually. Fun weekend to hit up gore.

If you want to make the most of the season, look to blow off as many responsibilities in June as possible and boat after work and as much as you can on the weekends. Good med/high water lasts a preciously short time so get it while you can.
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Old 03-12-2010   #4
placerville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 732
in order of usual runoff:
escalante - late april/early may
embudo. a step up from esca - early may?
upper dolores super playboating - mid may
try and hit the upper animas near it's peak. creeks nearby as well - late may
crested butte creeks - late may/early june or more
slaughterhouse/barrell/shoshone/crystal - early june for high water
arkansas - june-early august
baily/gore - august?
westwater - sept-oct.

this is what i try and generally do in an ideal year. the difficulties would suit you according to what you have run.
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Old 03-12-2010   #5
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Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 983
Hit gore starting in a few weeks, and then hit escalante for a weekend in mid/late april. When things start going hit black rock after work (best afterwork 4-5 for front range). Agreed that gilman is good but if you hit it high it is not 4-5.
As far a peak runoff I would say stay away from the ark, they only good class 4-5 in pie creek (clear creek sucks ass). Hit up CB it is a great time but don't be suprised if you break a boat cause it is manky. Go to durango, do the upper A its one of the best in the state for sure, hit up 3rd gorge in if lime is high or 1st gorge if its at a good level.
Late season go for more gore and of course the black canyon.
Or just save up some vacation and go to cali.
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Old 03-13-2010   #6
placerville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
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i think clear creek of the ark is awesome if you hit it with flow (400+). gorgeous and continuous and not too manky if there is good water in it.
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Old 03-13-2010   #7
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 328

Thanks dudes. This was exactly what I was looking for. I want to hit up Escalante, Upper A, Embudo, and the Black Canyon. those have been on my list for awhile. Keep it coming if you have the info. I am currently unemployed so I may have the time to do some overnighters, however a lot of the Cali stuff may be over my head.
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Old 03-13-2010   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
The embudo is sitting under a pretty decent snowpack this year, and should see good flows. You can either hit it on the way up, or on the back side of peak for optimal medium flows. Peak flows get juicy, and more than I would want, likely more than you want to.

The guage is hosed on the embudo, but Atom has a pad right on the river and posts updates on flows. Keep tabs on the weather and on Atoms updates. Depending on weather, there are a couple of weeks in late april to early may that the flows will be manageable, then comes peak, and probably mid may to late may for dropping flows on the backside. If I were a betting man, I'd say 2nd to 3rd week of may would be primo.

Embudo is an incredible run. Did it last year for the first time. and its one of my all time favorites. Perfect medium is around 3.2ft level. We did it at 3.4 and 3.3 which was more juice but we still felt in our league. Don't know if I'd want much more than 3.4, but some love flows bigger than that.

Black Canyon sounds like a great fall run. Never done it but flows are pretty reliable releases in the fall.

Never did the upper A, but thats high on my list to. My guess is that the first 1/2 of june would be great on around the upper A. Upper A is likely around peak and the creeks should be running too.

Don't sell yourself short on Cali. I'm planning a trip out there, and there are a ton of runs for the non-super-hero boater. Tons of IV+ to moderate V runs that would be in your comfort zone.
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Old 03-14-2010   #9
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
The Upper A will probably run big this June (we hogged all the snow if you didn't notice already). If you want to see it at legit class V hit it when its running over 2000 on the 'below silverton' gage. Do not take it lightly at those flows. Some people see it at 1000 and wonder what is all the fuss about.
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Old 03-14-2010   #10
placerville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 732
very roughly, what would 2000 in silverton correlate to in durango? we ran the upper a through the box with around 5000 in durango years ago, and it was one of the best runs i have ever had in colorado. I know folks have run it up to 8k in dgo.

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