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Old 03-15-2005   #1
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 206
Ruby/Horsethief alternatives?.....

I'm looking for an alternative overnighter to the usual Ruby/Horsethief run. Requirements are that if we have a raft full of people (most of them non boaters or rafters) and if I tell them to paddle hard right and they look at me like "What?", or they choose to take a swig of their PBR, we wont have any major issues. I've inquired about the Dolores through Slickrock canyon but that looks like it may be a "has been" run. Looking in CRC, Lodore Canyon or Chama Canyon may be viable alternatives however permits are needed.. Info from anyone with experience with these runs or any other suggestions would be great. Once again, I have alot of non-boaters (will be using 12 or 14 ft rafts) who would like a leisurely overnight beer cruise with maybe some side hikes. Thanks..

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Old 03-15-2005   #2
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 321
Depending on how much time you have, you might consider the Lower San Juan or Desolation Canyon of of the Green. I've never done either of these runs but I've heard they're both pretty mellow with lots of flat water and a couple of rapids to spice them up. The San Jaun has two sections, which are a 2 day (Sand Island to Mexican Hat) and a 4-5 day (Mexican Hat to Clay Hills), and could be linked into one trip. Desolation is 6-7 day trip. Both require permits, which are issued in a lottery, but cancelation rates are high (~30%), and so usually you can pick something up, especially if its less than a month before the trip start date.

I got to do lodore for my first time last year and it was a very good trip. We did a 4 day kayak self-supported trip. You could shorten it into a 2 day trip by launching at the gates of Lodore, and taking out at Echo Park, provided you have high clearance vehicles. However, you miss some great canyons downstream.

Hope this is of some help


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Old 03-16-2005   #3
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
Escalante to Whitewater on the Gunnison May fit your needs. Super easy water with some good side hikes as well. No permit and reliable flows.
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Old 03-16-2005   #4
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,911
Ditto to what Dave said about the lower Gunnison. If you can camp and hike at Escalante Canyon you're stylin with a spectacular hike. Another alternative may be the Colorado between Dewy Bridge and Moab. No permit needed, a few Class II rapids, spectacular scenery and I think there's even camping along the way.

There's also the Upper Colorado. Don't use CRC2 for picking a float trip. Lodore's awesome but permits are rarer than (live) dinosaurs - you'd be a fool to take out at Echo Park (if they even allow it). Deso-Gray will be a week-long trip unless its at flood stage and you'll have a lot of busy Class II water in the last 60 miles. Even though its past the lottery deadlines you can still submit a permit application for most rivers and be elegible to pick up cancellation permits.

Another possibility is Yampa Canyon on the Yampa. Its a float with no permit needed but its not spectacular. The White river in Utah is a beautiful desert sandstone canyon and a good float trip too - canoes may be better than rafts but they don't carry as much beer...

Have fun,

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 03-16-2005   #5
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594
the mama chama is just about the type of float you're looking for- but it doesn't get releases until july/ august for commercial (or otherwise) permits. it seems like there should be excellent runoff,but the lower chama is dam release from el vado dam. there was random high flows early season one year, to pay water debts down south, but the whole area was closed due to fire danger while the chama ran 1000+. go figure. the three day is super scenic rowing with your feet up on the beer cooler, (tecate- cuz you're in new mexico) with 8 miles of class 2 (3- with flows) on the last day. below 500 cfs it's not really worthwhile (esp. with a loaded gearboat) but we have had to make it to the take out when they turned the water off early at @ 300 cfs (beergoggled rock dodging!) the day section of the chama has decent play,and is also great for beginning paddlers (cold water tho!!) or camping and doing laps. the shuttle is long, or the folks at the put in can do it for @ <$100. it is a designated wild and scenic river, so a firebox and groover are mandatory, as per the BLM; and theres usually a ranger at the put in.- the taos office does the permits...private permits aren't too hard to get- sometimes... i think... we also rent gear and run commercial trips @ santa fe rafting.
the rio grande is sweet, and it is already flowing- thats all two of our rivers in nm (lol)- not counting creeks. hope this helps- for when there is water on the chama!
see you on the rio-
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Old 03-16-2005   #6
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 22
The lower gunni is kind of industrial. I'd do a trip on the Green River, downstream of the town. Put in at Ruby Ranch and take out at Mineral Bottom, or put in at Mineral Bottom and take out at the confluence of the Colorado. Both are great stretches for mind blowing view, hikes, and boozin'.
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Old 03-22-2005   #7
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 206
Thanks for all of the suggestions.. they all sound pretty good, does anyone know if they have a sign up board for campsites on the Gunnison like they do at Loma? or is it just 1st come 1st serve.. and how would it compare traffic wise on an early June weekend with Ruby Horsethief?

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