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Old 03-16-2016   #1
Dover, Pennsylvania
Paddling Since: 14
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 2
CO Water Levels

I am planning a trip from May 8th to May 21st throughout CO. I was wondering what snow melt is usually like and what are some good rivers and creeks to hit up. I can't go to the festival in Golden, but I'm trying to meet some other boaters to hit up stuff like the Animus and Arkansas. I was hoping to get some creeking in too. Someone mentioned Pine Creek and Clear Creek. Any help would be appreciated!

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Old 03-16-2016   #2
Avon, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 3
Colorado snow and water

Snowpack in central regions is still strong. you can check snow levels and river data at Colorado Map-Backcountry-Driving Tours-Skiing-Rivers-Snow-Data

They also have some rivers/creeks mapped out. Most raft companies start strong in May and so the numbers and most of the Arkansas will be a log jam.

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Old 03-16-2016   #3
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Should be water that time of year. It's probably a little early for peak runoff, but there will be plenty to paddle. If you give us what class you are looking for people could give you more suggestions. If you are looking for class IV I'd say base out of the Ark with trips to Glenwood/Aspen area would be great. If Class V maybe hang out in Durango. Crested Butte has super fun creekin too if it's running. There are lots of runs out there - pick up whitewater of the southern rockies for more info than you'll ever need.

FYI - Pine Creek is a rapid on the Arkansas. There are two Clear Creeks - one is a tributary of the ark (IV+/V-) that is easy to hit if you are in the ark valley. The other is outside of Denver and offers multiple sections of III-V, but it's next to a highway, full of road blast rock and is kind of an acquired taste.
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Old 03-16-2016   #4
OTR, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 224
What class are you looking to run? Mid to late May is right on the brink of the big runoff season so what is running and how much flow you get will depend a lot on the weather (and in some cases dams and management of reservoirs). I have been in CO for five years and each seasons has proven to be a bit different in terms of which rivers have the best flows in May, there will surely be plenty worth boating though.
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Old 03-16-2016   #5
peterB's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 567
That is a little early. Start in the South and work North

Durango and Glenwood get water first

Arkansas gets water next depending on fish habitat factors

Front range is usually just starting when the Golden Games occurs.
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Old 03-17-2016   #6
Dover, Pennsylvania
Paddling Since: 14
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 2
Thanks for the help! We are looking to run IV - V but really we are just trying to get on water. We are gonna spend a couple days in Moab, then we were planning on starting in the Durango area and moving throughout CO. I looked for Whitewater of the Southern Rockies, but I guess that is out of print because it is priced way high everywhere that I found it on the internet. I talked to a guy at 4 corners whitewater and I think we are just gonna hang out at the park then try to hook up with people from there. Both Pine and Clear creek (ark valley) are things I'm gonna try to get to. I got a feeling this is gonna be a good trip. Thanks again!
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Old 03-17-2016   #7
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
There will probably be enough water in the main stem Arkansas to enjoy some III-IV+ on Pine Creek and Numbers, but historically our creeks don't come in until June. I can pretty much guarantee there will not be enough water in Clear Creek Ark to boat it in May. Here is the historical average flow for CC Ark for the month of May:

There is a better chance that the creeks around Durango will be in though. Last year Cascade Creek (which also contains the water of Lime Creek) didn't jump up until the very end of May, but historically it looks like it does normally flow during the period your looking at:

The Piedra will most likely be in....and that is a good time to look to northern New Mexico. Embudo Fest is scheduled for May 7th, so there is a good chance it will be in.

GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
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