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Old 12-23-2013   #11
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
Lots of great options that haven't been mentioned yet.... and I agree that BV/Salida is a better and cheaper base camp for a III/IV river trip.

Granite/Numbers/Fractions/Browns/Parkdale/Royal Gorge on the Arkansas

Upper upper Taylor and Taylor Canyon just over Cottonwood from BV. If things are peaking the Taylor Park run is a really fun and scenic II+/III-.

Roaring Fork. Just over Independence Pass from BV. Possibly Slaughterhouse depending on flows. You also have upper and lower Woody Creek with Toothache. There is also some mellower II+/III- downstream.

Fryingpan at Basalt. Lower stretch is really fun class III creeking with a couple easy class IV moves.

Crystal River above Carbondale. You've got A to B which is a very fun class III run with the Narrows (IV) and Bogan Canyon (IV) upstream.

You can complete a loop from this region by hitting the Shoshone stretch outside Glenwood, Dowd Chute and the Upper and Lower Eagle near Edwards, as well as the runs on Gore Creek and the Minturn S-Turns stretch of the Eagle. Then head south back to BV.

All these runs are accessible within a 2 hour drive from BV.

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Old 12-23-2013   #12
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 405
If you want to avoid the high water, then go for the end of June and base out of Buena Vista. Hit Browns and Fractions and Parkdale, and then step it up to the the Numbers and Royal gorge if you want some more class IV action. Way too early to tell about water levels, but still likely to be tamer and warmer at the end of June...

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Old 12-23-2013   #13
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
If we have huge snow pack in the SW corner, AND the powers that be have no other option, you might be able to run Dolores. If you can, do it;

Also, upper Gore Canyon if you want an ass kicking.
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Old 12-23-2013   #14
Caleb125's Avatar
Edwards, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 262
if you mean the Vail area then I recommend Dowd Chute in Minturn (5 minute drive from Vail) which is a good class IV. It is short but you can lap it. The other fun one is Shoshone. it is around a 30-45 minute drive from Vail and is a really fun class III to IV- run through glenwood canyon. It can also be lapped many times.
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Old 12-24-2013   #15
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,373
Mostly good feedback here. Another vote for BV as a base. You could boat the Ark for a week w/o a repeat run just about. CO. boating is mostly fast relatively shallow rock gardens. "The state of mank." I would say things are maybe a half class harder for the same ratings relative to the east. I think high water Numbers is harder than standard release Upper Gauley. No undercuts like the Gauley but looong swims potentially. "A fire hose." And remember, your sea level lungs will be hurting at 8,000+ feet. You might want to keep that in mind as you acclimate to the style of paddling and the elevation. Don't even think about taking a class 3+ boater down Gore... If the water is high then you could catch some gorgeous class 3 runs that mostly only run at peakish water. The Piedra, East Fork San Juan, Conejos would be a great way to see the San Juans... Post when you get closer to your trip. Some of us would be happy to show you around. The Numbers, Fractions, Browns is my back yard...
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Old 12-24-2013   #16
FrankC's Avatar
Golden, CO
Paddling Since: 1856
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 339
If you've only got a week I would base myself in the Ark Valley too. Pretty much unlimited paddling to fill out the week in that area. Great scenery surrounded by 14,000 ft peaks. I would hit it during the FIBARk fest in mid June. Usually perfect weather and water at this time of year. Don't even think about trying trying to tour the whole state. That is more like a month long adventure.
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Old 12-24-2013   #17
kayakfreakus's Avatar
Steamboat, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 887
So while I agree the Ark valley is a good choice, Vail is just as good of a choice in my book. The Eagle during runoff is a great river and is all III/IV with good access. Upper eagle below Gilman is the S turns through dowd is fun. Gore creek all the way through Edwards is nice long stretch and good fun during runoff. Only an hour away from the upper Ark and easy access to several other areas as well as noted. You will be happy with your options in Vail since it sounds like that is where you will be. Bring every piece of cold weather paddling gear you have, some of the coldest water ive ever boated is the Vail headwaters.
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Old 12-24-2013   #18
one legged wonder's Avatar
Ouray & Buena Vista & Winter Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 292
Originally Posted by Schutzie View Post
Also, upper Gore Canyon if you want an ass kicking.
?? Upper Gore? You mean just Gore canyon? I would not recommend that to anyone looking for a III+ trip. Especially not that time of year. Its likely that Gore will be running above 1500 that time of year. With that kind of water its solid IV+ with multiple Vs
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Old 12-25-2013   #19
Craig County, Virginia
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 46
I agree on the BV area for a good base camp. Make sure you boat on the Front Range when you are driving through. Clear Creek, Boulder Creek and Poudre are all gems. Dowd Chutes are awesome at high water.

The Cheoah River in NC is a good measuring tool for Colorado class IV. Coming from the SE, Colorado has made me a better boater. Water is real cold so dress for sucess. It's a beautiful state with some great rivers! Enjoy
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Old 12-25-2013   #20
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 176
Definitely get CRC (the bible) and/or WWSR (the new testament). I like CRC a little bit better. I feel like the maps and put in/take out info is a little better, but WWSR has more content outside of Colorado. They are both really good, and I think most people who live in Colorado own both.

I wouldn't set up a permanent base anywhere. You can cover a fair amount of terrirtory and hit a lot of quality runs in a week. Assuming you have a couple days travel time so only have 5 days to boat, you could do something like this:

Day 1:
Put in at Pinnacle rock, run Parkdale (III) and the Royal Gorge (III/IV). The hardest rapid in the Gorge is probably Sunshine, which is an easy scout/portage river right. Drive up to Salida to the play park if you have extra time.

Day 2:
Numbers (IV) + Fractions(III). Hit the Buena Vista play park after. There's a trailer next to CKS (kayak store in BV) that sells really good burgers. There's a Quincy's in both Leadville and Buena Vista. I've only been to the one in Leadville, but you get a good steak dinner for $9.

Day 3:
Take 24 over Tenessee pass and hit Dowd Chute (IV). Drive east and run Clear Creek from Lawson to Idaho Springs (III+), then Lower Clear Creek(III) down to the Golden play park. You could do Upper Clear Creek(IV/IV+) instead of Lower if you were comfortable on Numbers.

Day 4:
Drive up to Fort Collins and run Steven's Gulch through Bridges take out (Upper Mish, Lower Mish, Poudre Park, and Bridges runs - all mostly III with 2-3 class IV rapids). Can surf legend wave at bridges take out or run your favorite section again if you have extra time.

Day 5:
Run Upper Rustic(III with one IV at the start you can skip) and Lower Rustic(III+). All colorado water is cold, but for some reason the Rustic sections on the poudre always seem extra frigid. I usually bring hot chocolate.

That's focusing on whitewater with easy shuttles. All those runs the shuttle can be biked or hitchhiked, and almost all of them are roadside so if someone gets freaked out it's easy to get out. Unlike out east, there's plenty of public land out here if you wanted to camp (except on the front range). If not, you shouldn't have much trouble finding hotels wherever you happen to end up for the day.

I think the Ark and the Poudre are the two best rivers in the state for the number and quality of class III/IV runs. Hit them both if you can, but if not the Ark is more central with more to do around it.

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