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Old 11-27-2007   #1
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 151
Rafting with YOUNG kids

i have a question that might stir a few feathers, but i dont know a better place to ask it, so here goes..
i've got a young daughter who i cant wait to get on the river. by the time i'd be thinking of taking her on any kind of a river trip (i.e. august when the flows are a bit lower and the weather/water are at their warmest), she'll be about 17 or 18 months old. i'm looking for some suggestions, then, for scenic trips of any length in the western US that you think would be appropriate.
a bit of background: im a river guide that has worked commercially for 8 years in colorado and alaska. i have done cataract canyon, desolation canyon, and the grand canyon privately. i know my limits on the water, and don't make stupid decisions, so please save that commentary.
i simply am looking for some suggestions for a quick getaway to take my wife and daughter for some r&r on an appropriate western waterway...anyone?

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Old 11-27-2007   #2
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
How old should a child be?

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Old 11-27-2007   #3
Jamestown, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3
The San Juan (Mexican Hat to Clay Hills) is a classic kid trip. I've been on the trip with children as young as 12 months. My own girls paddled a duckie down at about 8 yrs. The only real rapid is easily scouted and walked. Excellent hikes, beautiful scenery, swimming holes, and it's essentially one continuous sand pile for kids to play. Typically a 5 day trip. Permits (lottery) are getting a bit tougher every year but still not too bad.
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Old 11-27-2007   #4
Monroe, Utah
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 137
The SAn Juan would be a great one like mentioned above. If you wanted a few days along a road and no permits needed you could put in above Moab abt. anywhere and float as long as you wanted. Could even put in at the Cisco take out. Not much rapids, but good scenery.
When the river stands in awe of me as I do her, I'll know I'm a kayaker.
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Old 11-27-2007   #5
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,477
If you do the San Juan in August, swing by Durango and do our town run. I've been taking my son down it at low water since he was 18 mos. He loves it. In August there's an easy class III- at the end. At 3 and a half, he now insists on paddling it.
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Old 11-27-2007   #6
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Knife Fork of the Spoon Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 365
Moab section is a good one. The road is always close by. I have taken my daughter a few times 9 months was her first trip. The biggest worry I had was sun and keeping her hydrated. Small groups, good pfd and a car seat (i did not strap her in but the seat tied down) 1 adult to watch keep a hand on her, shade, shade, and more shade. Oh ya no drinking beer all day. I hope that in 8-9 years she can row while I squirt
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Old 11-27-2007   #7
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
There are also short sections of the Yampa near Craig that scarcely have a ripple. I have a newborn son who I can't wait to get out on a float- I'm thinking the summer of '09 at just less than 2 years old will be his first time. I wouldn't have a problem with taking him out later next summer, but his mom might be vetoing that action.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old 11-27-2007   #8
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I would go along with the San Juan suggestions, very kid friendly. Also I would suggest looking at Ruby/Horsethief just above westwater, nice weekend trip with no rapids to speak of. From the time our son was few months old, we would take him down the upper colorado from pumphose to state bridge, nice easy overnighter, and since he gets up every few hours to eat, the train noises did not kill us.
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Old 11-27-2007   #9
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
Whitewater of the Southern Rockies (aka the New Testament) has an index at the back listing runs by difficulty and by the authors subjective 5 star system. They also have run difficulty by drainage so you can find runs in your backyard. That would be a good place to start.

You can also sort the run lists at AW and by difficulty and they list some of the class I/II that isn't in the New Testament. is also a good reference and tends to have a more conservative slant the sites like eddyflower, it also covers a lot of the flat sections of rivers that don't often make guide books - Like the 118 miles of the Colorado from New Castle to the Westwater put-in (mostly class I and II):
Colorado River, Colorado

Where did you guide in AK? I worked for Denali Raft Adventures in 02 and 03.
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Old 11-27-2007   #10
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Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 928
I would take a little guy with a little PFD on the Upper Colorado.

It takes a big man to cry...It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man.

-Jack Handy
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