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Old 06-20-2015   #1
penguin's Avatar
Tahoe City, California
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 53
CO day trips with oar frame and 13 year-old: need suggestions!

Hey all!

Parched Californian here and I'm headed to Colorado for a week of action with my 13 year old. He's a fairly accomplished rafter: MF Salmon x2, Green River x2, East Fork Carson, Flathead River, etc. We're looking for suggestions in Colorado for mid-July, but I've got to tell you about a few of our constraints.

We're traveling with a stripped Sprinter Van, so we camp in it. We're looking for day trips. I don't mind hiring somebody to shuttle my van or hitchhiking back to the put-in. On most of the trip we'll be mountain biking, BUT - and this is important - we want to put about 2-3 days on day-long whitewater floats with him on the oars. Class III is not a problem, but I want him to have a good experience and probably would stay away from many IVs unless they're manageable in July. So, fun is what this is all about plus some time on the oars.

It looks like our mountain biking adventures would put us somewhere in the middle of Colorado, Breckenridge area. Ideally, rivers would be within a half-day drive to get to.

So, what recommendations could you make? Be specific if you could - that'll help me a bunch with figuring out where to start and stop.

Thanks everybody!


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Old 06-20-2015   #2
penguin's Avatar
Tahoe City, California
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 53
Oh, and if the gear matters - we'll run a 15' NRS with oar frame, 10' oars so he'll need some space to get down the river. I'll only load it with a dry box for day runs.

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Old 06-20-2015   #3
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 106
I would recommend the Pumphouse section of the Colorado River. The put in is a little west of Kremmling, CO. We normally take out at Ranch del Rio... IIRC, they can run the shuttle for you as well.

Rancho Del Rio - Not Your Usual Resort

If you decide on this area, steer clear of Gore Canyon. I am told that is appropriate for kayakers and rafters with a death-wish.
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Old 06-20-2015   #4
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 131
if hes really comfortable on class III
arkansas river sections: Fractions ,milk run ,and browns are all doable once the flow subsides a bit as its not forgiving at the moment... and the mt. biking is awesome arounf buena vista and salida!

pumphouse as recommended above is 1 class 3 easy move (flow dependant) the rest is class II but really just a float... if you want hime to feel good about what he does stay away from pumphouse as the flows subside people begin to float it with six packs and pool floaties... doesnt really make you feel like your doing something special when they float by...

hope that helps? the arkansas has a couple other sections too! the gorge is one that is a bit heavier than the above....
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Old 06-20-2015   #5
penguin's Avatar
Tahoe City, California
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 53
OK, this is a great start. Sounds like I should focus in on the Arkansas and Upper Colorado. Both look like ideal recommendations. Anything else - just post it!
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Old 06-20-2015   #6
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
I'll second the Arkansas, railroad bridge down to Ruby mtn is a nice long day. (Fractions, frog rock, milk run are some of the run names). I'd also take a look at the roaring fork, Carbondale to Glenwood springs, cemetery run.

I'd agree that pumphouse turns into a s&%t show in the summer, won't be your favorite Colorado experience.

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Old 06-21-2015   #7
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
Shoshone on the Colorado River is a short run (2 miles ish) but also convient to great mtn biking and good class III - about 5 rapids. You can pair it with a float down to Glenwood springs for a nice scenic float - or just go mtn biking for the afternoon.

I'd second the recommendation for Brown's canyon on the Arkansas. The Fractions section at lower flows is technical and busy - a likely place to catch an oar if you're not attentive, Also of note on the fractions: There is one rapid with a known killer rock - there are signs above it, the move isn't hard at most levels, but it is consequential. A bit further downstream (about an hours drive) is the Parkdale/Bighorn sheep canyon section - it's good class III at normal flows. Your son could row that and then you could switch and take the oars and row the class III-IV Royal Gorge.
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Old 06-21-2015   #8
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 728
The Colorado Trail is bikeable for most of its run across the state. Best rafting along it is probably the Arkansas Valley.

The roaring fork below basalt, the Colorado above and below Glenwood Spgs, much of the Eagle, the Arkansas for about 50 miles below stone bridge (beware the diversion dam just above Salida) come to mind as havin good options for a 13 yo with 10' oars. I'd consider cutting them down 6-12".

Shoshone, fractions/BV, Browns will provide a very challenging run under those constraints. I think they are more technical and narrow runs than those you listed, and the flows in central CO will likely be above normal through July. Upper C is a shit show, I'd avoid that.

The three day/two night Ruby-horsethief or lower gunnison might be right up your alley, but the desert rafting will be a lot hotter than if you stay in the mountains.
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Old 06-21-2015   #9
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
CO day trips with oar frame and 13 year-old: need suggestions!

Another vote for the ark and to avoid pump house unless he needs an easy first lap on something. Even then just pick an easier stretch on the ark for that. If the eagle is still running, that is a fun run on the oars, but I'd be surpassed if it is, though this season has been full of pleasant surprises and you should have much nicer levels than you would have in an average year.

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Old 06-21-2015   #10
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 78
Ruby Horsethief or the Shoshone runs on the Colorado as well as Brown's Canyon on the Ark get my vote.....

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