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Old 06-14-2015   #1
Daryl's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 98
Real opinion needed re: Yampa run

Thanks for looking. I am TL on a Yampa 5 day trip starting this week and invited multiple families with kids whose age varies from 7-16 and there are fourteen kids on our 25 person permit.

We are all from Golden and knew well the boy who perished on the Arkansas river last week so we have been given a very real dose of mortality.

One family is new to rafting and their two daughters are 9 and 7. They have decided to withdraw from the trip mostly because they feel their lack of experience and tension from the loss of a classmate makes them a liability to the remainder of the participants.

This is my first Yampa trip so I cannot tell them from experience that it will be a clean run and there is nothing to fear.

We will be running three 18' Hyside pro bucket boats and a 14' DRS self bailer. 3 of the oar men are experienced with whitewater of varying intensity.

I suspect the Yampa will be around 4-5,000 cfs come Weds when we put in.

My question to the MB community is: Is the Yampa safe for families given the size of the rafts, the water levels and the river itself? Those of you who have made this run, is it a cinch or are their reservations well placed and their decision to decline a smart move? Or is it a tragedy they will regret?

Thank you for your candor.

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Old 06-14-2015   #2
jakebrown98's Avatar
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 165
Originally Posted by Daryl View Post

We will be running three 18' Hyside pro bucket boats and a 14' DRS self bailer. 3 of the oar men are experienced with whitewater of varying intensity.
Obviously this is your decision but we can't be of much help if you don't give us more information about the skill of the boat operators. And the experience level of the group as a whole. What about the fourth oarsperson? Varying intensity? It doesn't get more vague than that.

I've never done the Yampa, but based upon what I know, and the intensity of the rapids I run, I class it as a float and bloat with one rapid of note. That said, I would never take a bunch of folks down any river assuring them "they have nothing to fear."

Good on ya for making the trip happen, but people have to make their own decisions and you shouldn't push them. I think success is going to depend mostly upon your ability to TL such a large group of folks. I know nothing of past trips you've led or the group's experience together. Fill us in more so we can provide better guidance.

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Old 06-14-2015   #3
swimteam101's Avatar
Steamboat, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 329

I would not take my kids on a whitewater run I was not familiar with. I would say the Yampa at 5000 falls in this category. There is more than 1 rapid. Cheers
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Old 06-14-2015   #4
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 524
Several areas have fairly continuous current following rapids (teepee in particular, and a lot of the water between there and big joe) so it's not exactly pool-drop, which makes picking up swimmers sometimes a bit slow if you're not running really tight. 5000 is a fairly forgiving level, and there are a lot of miles with nothing but relaxed floating, but there are still a good handful of sizable waves that have flip or swim potential. Likewise through Whirlpool and Split Canyons.

I would never try to talk anyone into taking a raft trip if they are having second thoughts. My $0.02: better to regret not going and pine for another trip than to have a trip that goes badly and have it hurt your friendship as well. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2015   #5
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 6
We ran the Yampa last year launching on May 31st and are from Golden as well. It was peak flow as we started at 14,000cfs and finished over 17,000cfs. It was big water but no rocks, debris, etc. Just big wave trains. We had 24 people and 7 kids from age 7 - 12 and my own 9-year old son. We have run many rivers privately like Westwater, Rio Grande, Upper C, Dolores, San Juan, Ark, Eagle, and even Cross Mountain Gorge so fairly comfortable in heavy whitewater. We did have a 14' raft flip at Little Joe Rapid cresting off a 10 foot curler and had a 9-year old swim with mom approx 1/8 mile until we pulled them out unharmed. We then scouted Warm Springs and all kids and some adults walked. Overall a great trip and kids had a blast. Of course it's all about comfort level, skill level, water level, boat size, etc. We would have thought twice (and did) about young kids if it was really technical rapids but not so much with Yampa at that time. I see the dilemma with recent accidents and just discussed that this morning weighing probability, risk, reward and understandable fear. Before replying, I just now asked my wife and the mom who swam about your conditions and their response was "perfectly fine" and would definitely do again with kids at that level. But that is us and we'd be happy to discuss more if you like...

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Old 06-14-2015   #6
sledhooligan's Avatar
Craigamerica, -
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 130
14 kids? Sweet Jesus, you ever seen Lord of the Flies?

Take my advice with a grain of salt because according to Mountain Buzz standards I'm a cavalier sand bagger. I don't think the Yampa with kids at 5000
is a big deal. Tougher then the Upper C but not by much. Warm Spring is more of a navigational hazard then a true rapid at 5. Moonshine might still have a little punch in it and you could hang up a boat at SOB other then that pretty straight forward.
I think 4 boat with 25 people is pushing it. I'd try to get one more boat to spreed out the people. I'd also keep the 14ft fairly light with a rower and 2 passenger (one adult and maybe one of the older kids). Uses this boat to grab swimmers if shit goes bad. 18ft bucket boats can plow thru some big shit as long as people can hold on. As much as I hate pool toys such as duckies and SUP I'd bring a few along.
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Old 06-14-2015   #7
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 52
I made my first yampa trip last year at about this time and we had kids in your age group with us. We had 3 boats 16 ft boats. 1 very experienced, 1 with moderate experienced and 1 with limited experience (with no kids). The flows were somewhere between 6k and 8k if I remember correctly. I felt like everything was pretty straight forward. My 13 yo daughter flipped a ducky in the first class II and no one wanted to ducky again until after warm springs. We did not let anyone ducky split mountain. The flows on split mountain were around 12k due to flaming gorge dam release and we had done that section before at that level and did not think it was ducky friendly for our group.

Warm springs is an impressive rapid. My wife called it terrifying but I did not think it was that bad. You had to make a fast left to right move at the top of the rapid to break through a large wave then make a smaller move after that. Maytag only had a small amount of water flowing over it and was not much of a factor at the level we ran it at nor were any of the other features except for the center which had large holes and waves. The rest of Warm springs is a long bony rapid after that that most don't really talk about or show in videos. Had Maytag and the other features been in full force I would have been very impressed. Our least experienced boater got hung up on a rock in the lower section but was able to free himself. He had let his gaurd down after making it through the upper section.

I would do the trip again with out question at that level and overall it was a great trip (aside from snow and rain one evening). The river moves at a very fast pace like others have said and there not many places with eddies to pull over in.

Ultimately the choice is yours. Have a great trip!
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Old 06-14-2015   #8
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
All I can tell you is the kids as young as 7 on our trip at 7000cfs had a great time. the younger ones were walked around warm springs. 7000 on the Yampa is not the same as 7000 on the ark. your experience may vary.
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Old 06-14-2015   #9
aka The Curmudgeon
captishmael's Avatar
Hopelessly Stuck in Yesterday, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 322
Fortunately there is a good walkaround at Warm Springs, don't be afraid to use it. I would not take too much comfort in your big bucket boats. The water at Warm Springs is very pushy at this level making it harder to stay out of the meat, which you definitely want to do. A big boat, ezpecially a bucket boat will be quite a handfull. How experienced did you say your oarsmen are? There are some huge but fun holes on other rapids, would be quite easy to pitch a kid into the drink. How do you feel about being a few feet from your kid and not being able to get to them because of the strong current? There are better trips to take multiple kids on.
Don't Wanna Die Askin' for Another Chance
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Old 06-15-2015   #10
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 728
I would not describe it as a float and bloat, especially with a kid dominant group. Mostly straight forward but you still need to be paying attention the whole time. Warm Springs is a potential flip, but a very convenient scout helps alleviate that. I find it a very kid friendly trip for kids who are comfortable living outdoors for extended times. Ditto the thought of a couple SUP/duckies, just keep all kids between lead and sweep boats.

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