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Old 03-10-2011   #1
Durango, CO
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 144
Dolores Family Sections (I-III?)

With the Dolores looking like it may have a season, we're thinking of trying to do a trip this May/June.

We have two little girls (6.5/3.5) that have done the San Juan and the Chama a few times each.

I've done the Dolores, but it was a long time ago (like 13 years?). I know there were many sections of flat-ish water, but i don't remember the details.

Class III is fine, but maybe not super continous. A few class IV's are fine as long as the kids can walk them (I remember a dirt road around Snag?)

We'd be looking at 4-6+ days. layover days or side-hikes are cool with us. Can anyone suggest a section(s) that would be good for us?

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Old 03-10-2011   #2
West By God, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 289
I don't think I would ever take a three year old on a whitewater trip, but if you are comfortable with it, I would say that the Dolores should be fine for you. You can easily walk the girls around snaggletooth on river left. It is well signed and there is no chance that you will accidentally float into Snaggletooth. The only continuous stretch are the three mile rapids below snaggletooth, but they are easy class III. If you decide that stretch is too much for you, the lower stretch, slickrock to bedrock, is much mellower and incredibly scenic. You could also do the very last section, Gateway to Dewey Bridge, but there would be a long walk around for the girls at Stateline Rapid (roughly a mile long). The rest of that stretch is easy and non-continuous class III, with a great hike on river right towards the end of the lower canyon.

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Old 03-10-2011   #3
lmaciag's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 670
This site has some information: Dolores River, Colorado

There are links at the bottom for each section. My first trip with my raft was Bradfield to Slick Rock. Ran most of it, but for Snag. Probably would have done it myself if it didn't come so fast after the putin.

Slick Rock to Bedrock and Bedrock to Gateway all look pretty mellow. Gateway to Dewey sounds mellow, but for one IV and a boulder garden.

I'm thinking about doing the whole thing (Bradfield Bridge to Dewey Bridge) given they are predicting 32 days of water.

You don't need a permit for any of the sections in CO, but you do need a permit for Gateway down in UT.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain
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Old 03-10-2011   #4
Durango, CO
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 144
thanks, Laurie. that's exactly what i was looking for.

I like taking our time, so slickrock-bedrock sounds like just the ticket for a ~4-5 day trip. probably last week in May/first week in june.
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Old 03-10-2011   #5
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
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Yeah, Slickrock is perfect for a family float.
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Old 03-10-2011   #6
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 16
BLott, that sounds like your best option. relaxing, scenic, the kids will love it.

One thing that I haven't heard from anyone yet about the lower section is the diversion dam before stateline rapid. It's only one feature (but nerve racking, being man made and all), you definitely know it's coming, but the walk around includes bush whacking, let alone I don't know what a possible pick up would be like at the bottom. I also believe the right side of stateline is all on private property.

All of it's easily doable and fun, but I'd be wary taking them anywhere but the middle section.
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Old 03-10-2011   #7
CWorthy's Avatar
Winter Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 110
The Dolores is most definitely one of the most beautiful stretches of river; however, probably because it doesn't run very often, it can be one of the most crowded stretches of river you will ever encounter.

My overall boating experience has always been among happy, pleasant people, until I boated this stretch on Memorial Day weekend in 2008! Instead of hearing "Hey, how's it going?" from fellow boaters, the common conversation was "How far are you going?" and "Where are you planning to camp?". We traveled 39 miles one day and ended up camping on a shelf because there was no where else to camp.

Was it worth it? Of course, because it truly is beautiful. My only recommendation would be to run it during the week, if you want the best overall experience, because on weekends, it is a zoo!
"I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead." - Jimmy Buffett
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Old 03-10-2011   #8
crested butte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 21
Floated Gypsum to Bedrock Memorial Day Weekend 2010. On the raft with me was my wife and my daughter who was 6 years old. This section has plenty of float time for the little ones. We had a lay over day and met up with friends. Along on the float out we had children ranging in ages 4 to 8. It is all relative to what the rivers behavior may be and what your skill level is currently. I like to float the rivers and take notes before the family joins.
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Old 03-10-2011   #9
wildh2onriver's Avatar
irvine, California
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,197
If you are a reasonably proficient boatman you will be fine with the little ones on the Slickrock to Bedrock section. About the only concern would be hanging up on a rock if the water flows are marginal--below 1200 cfs. Especially since you might have to load your boat down to take care of the wife and kids needs.
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Old 03-21-2011   #10
Durango, CO
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 144
looks like we're shooting for a mid-may trip, and launching on a Tues or Weds to avoid the crowds.

maybe a stupid question...but what do you think the weather or water temp should be? I know people complain about the 'Juan being so hot and the water so warm...but I love being able to swim hours-a-day. I'm hoping the Dolores won't be super cold. The dam is way up there so I'm hoping the river temps come up quite a bit before the Slickrock-bedrock section.

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