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Old 01-14-2004   #1
cosurfgod's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 384
What rivers in Colorado have the best early season flow?

I looks like I will be skiing this winter and I won't be getting in my boat until spring. What rivers are the best in the early season? I would like to be boating by April. I have permit in for the month of April on the Salt River but I would like to see if anything in Colorado starts flowing early. Isn't there some rivers that flow early outside GJ off the mesas? Any info would be greatly appreciated. I would like to have a plan come April instead of dicking off on the Animas.

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Old 01-14-2004   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
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There are plenty of river stretches that will be flowing by April. Unfortunatly most of the action is on the western slope. Here are a few rivers I can think of that should be running by April:
Westwater Canyon (Colorado River class III+)- a little cold, but runnable by early March
Gunnison Gorge (lower Black Canyon of Gunnison River class II-III+) April
Shoshone (Colorado River class III) April
North Fork Of the Gunnison near Summerset class III-IV south facing slopes bring early high runoff in April
Cataract Canyon Utah- good March spring break trip!
South Fork Saint Vrain Creek might be running in April if you like hair runs (dam free)
Most of the rivers don't run that early do to dam controlled releases for agricultural purposes which don't occur until later in the spring (late May).
Refer To Colorado Rivers And Creeks Book (the Bible) for more info.
Good Luck

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Old 01-14-2004   #3
cosurfgod's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 384
Thanks for in the input, I really appreciate it but I have run all of those rivers (except SSV). Are there any secret stashes?

PS- I read the bible every night, it is torcher this time of year.

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Old 01-14-2004   #4
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388
I think Escalante creek flows early.

Look on a topo map for creeks that aren't that high.

You can also check the yearly average statictics of the river flows. Go to the river flow page for the guage you are interested in and click on "Daily Streamflow statistics".

I'm not sure Escalante has a guage.
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Old 01-14-2004   #5
badkins's Avatar
Laramie, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 488
We ran Bailey in March, it ran for 2 or 3 weeks at 200cfs before the big blizzard.

Here are pics...


You could also do bone zone runs down the Royal Gorge, I've run that in February...

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Old 01-14-2004   #6
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
I drove past Shoshone on Sunday and everything I saw was clear of ice to Grizzley Creek. The ice mushrooms on the rocks in Tombstone made the moves a bit tighter. Its running about 600 cfs or so and you can scout the whole thing from the highway before getting on it. Grizzley Creek was clear until blocked by ice below No Name (private access). From Glenwoood Springs to New Castle was clear of ice and would be a great run for that beginner friend who was asking you last summer to take them kayaking. You'd likely never have to worry about them taking to the sport and keeping you off a wave...

The South Canyon wavetrain was fun in the afternoon sunshine and could offer park and play if its surfable around 1000 to 1400 - the S. Canyon takeout is mostly in the shade though and not plowed down to the water. You'd have to dash with your boat back to the car before you were fighting frozen neoprene. It was a pleasant float sitting up on the raft in the sunshine.

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 01-23-2004   #7
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 342
Another couple of runs you might consider are the North Fork of the Poudre River, which I think I ran clear back in late March or early April last year. It has an upper class 4 with one 5, 10 foot waterfall on the upper stretch, which are separate runs and an easy 12 mile stretch of class 3.
The Blue river by Dillon may also be running early in the year.
Sorry I really don't know much about the Saint Vrain, but I think it runs early. I think I will go up there this spring to check it out.
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Old 01-23-2004   #8
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 139
The Upper Blue will run early and it's way more fun than the Lower Blue. We ran it once at ~ 1200cfs and it was cool. I'd choose it at 500cfs over the Lower Blue at any level.

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