Places near BV/Salida
This is from new boaters, my daughters and I started last year in late July toward the end of the season, but went every weekend through SEP. Here is where we were able to work on our skills without the assistance of experienced paddlers: Big Bend to Salida. The three drops at the dam are easy to recover if you swim, and there is always help in Salida at the water park if you swim. The lowest I went on this was around 500 cfs. Always stay left on this route in lower water to not get stuck on rocks. Also, Salida to Rincon. Same, the lowest I attempted was 500 cfs, however, I've been told that it is runnable at 300 cfs. If you take the leap and advertise for a trip, I've found that experienced paddlers will come out of the wood work to help beginers. At the end of the season, we had a great group of experienced paddlers take us down Brown's, very patient and didn't make us feel like losers when we swam and they had to police up our stuff. That trip alone helped our skill level a lot...if any of them are reading this - thanks again. Good luck, these are a lot closer than the Colorado.