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Old 05-13-2008   #1
four corners, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 102
Which river for my family???

I'm looking for some advice concerning the Rio Chama vs. the San Juan (Sand Island to Mexican Hat). I have the option to take my family on either river for the 4th of July weekend. As far as kids go, our group will include my 9 month old son, a 7 year old, and a 2 year old. I will have one guy rowing a boat with little experience (obviously the kids will be on my boat). We have a few other experienced boaters as well.

I am trying to weigh the different aspects that will affect the kids such as day time temperatures, night time temperatures, bugs, rattlesnakes, flows, camping, difficulty for the inexperienced oarsman, difficulty in receiving permits etc. I talked with the BLM at Taos and they expect around 500 cfs that weekend, and possibly a very slim chance for a little more.

I would appreciate any insight,

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Old 05-13-2008   #2
lmaciag's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 670
I don't know anything about the San Juan, but I did the Rio Chama last weekend at 700cfs in my 14'8" raft that was packed fairly light. I don't think I'd bring my raft down there too much lower. This was only my second trip at the oars and it was an easy run for me. The BLM website states 500cfs minimum for rafts over 12', but I wouldn't do it in mine.


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Old 05-13-2008   #3
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
Can you get a Permit for either? That may well be the deciding factor.

I've done both, back when Riley was less than 2. I've done them both with not enough water: Chama at 400ish and Sj at 600. The Sj only had one rapid at that level, 8 foot or something like that. Pretty straightforward.

The Chama was a pain at low water, but mostly due to gravel bars and pushing, as opposed to Fu rocks, that might throw a kid out.

We did have a rattler in camp on the Chama, but that could happen at either one I assume. The climate should be about the same for each, damn hot, though there may be more shade available on the Chama.

Definitely get your boat shade dialed in.

Have fun.

(seven two 0)-298-2242
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Old 05-14-2008   #4
four corners, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 102
Thanks Laurie and Dave.

I do have a Chama permit and an invitation for the San Juan Trip (to Mexican Hat) on the same weekend (4th of July). If you had both choices, which river would you choose for your family for the overall experience?

Anybody else have any insight regarding which of the two rivers you would take your kids on. I am primarily concerned for my 9 month old and my two nephews (7yrs and 2 yrs).

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Old 05-14-2008   #5
Renaissance Redneck
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Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 986
Take em on the bluff to mex run. the kids will love the petroglyphs and dwellings. they will also love finding chards. Also the rapids are easy enough to run on a paco pad and the water will be warm enough to swim.
"You're gonna be doin a lot of doobie rolling when youre LIVIN IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER"
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Old 05-14-2008   #6
rivermanryan's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 580
I would go for the San Juan. The Chama is not going to be reliable this year, especially that late in the season. The San Juan will be on the low side, but still very doable depending on how the Animas comes down. Navajo will be only releasing near 500 cfs at that time. The Animas should still be over 1000 cfs, but we'll see.

I have the latest Navajo releases if anyone needs the beta.
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Old 05-14-2008   #7
Cody, Wyoming
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 260
I think my main concern would be that type of heat with a 9 year old and 2 year old. The day temps that time of year are going be very hot.
Think BIG
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Old 05-14-2008   #8
four corners, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 102
San Juan Releases?


Thanks for your input on the Chama vs. the San Juan. I am curious about the San Juan releases because I guide on the quality water. The releases now don't match what the BOR has on their status webpage as of this morning. Any info would be great.

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Old 05-14-2008   #9
stubby's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 432
I did the entire San Juan trip when I was 8 and had a blast looking at Petroglyphs and playing in the "quick sand". Sun was a factor, but we all wore big brim hats and light long sleeve shirts during the day. Other boats were rocking the full canopy for shade. Lots of shade stuff and be a religous with the sunscreen it'll be all good.
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Old 05-15-2008   #10
rivermanryan's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 580
We are scheduled to get our mid May forecast in the next couple days, so things could still change, but I wouldn't anticipate any major changes.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Nav2008InspectionSchedule_May8thChart.pdf (10.5 KB, 51 views)

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