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Old 01-02-2011   #1
Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 36
Recommendations on Winter Raft Trips?

I'm a novice rafter and would like to find some water within 5 or 6 hours of Denver in the next few months to raft rather than waiting for Spring. Any recommendations? Thanks.

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Old 01-03-2011   #2
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
Westwater Canyon, the Lower San Juan, Gates of Lodore, and Yampa Canyon are all possible year-round trips.

Being a front-range resident and a novice rafter you should check out the South Platte through Denver as well.

GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
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Old 01-03-2011   #3
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
While there's usually good flow on the rivers mentioned above, one thing to be wary of is ice dams that form, particularly in shaded areas in the canyons and especially during a cold spell like we're coming out of. I've known guys that had to drag their boats over/around them and cache their equipment until the river thawed and they could come back and get their gear.

Make sure you get a good scouting report before you go and let us know what you find!

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 01-03-2011   #4
Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 36
Thanks guys. I appreciate it.
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Old 01-04-2011   #5
zbaird's Avatar
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 884
for a novice i would start with the glenwood section. look at shoshone and see what you think. if it is a little much put in at grizzly creek or the park in town. i floated from the park to south canyon on a cold year one feb, no ice. you can drive the whole thing and look for ice dams ahead of time.

westwater commonly gets ice dams in jan and feb and i wouldnt think it is novice, especially solo in the winter. i have heard of people running lodore all year but it doesnt seem novice and is a 3-4 day commitment. the yampa is pretty easy but it probably has about 80 cfs in it and again it is a multi day commitment.

i have some friends that floated the san juan, another multi day commitment and 10 hrs from denver, last christmas and they rowed through slush but said it was great.
zach baird
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Old 01-04-2011   #6
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5
White Rock Canyon on the Rio Grande. Nice float trip from just outside Santa Fe to Cochiti Lake (motor out reccomended) Amesome scenery, petroglyphs, hiking. Spend 2 days or 3 if you like to hike alot.
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Old 01-04-2011   #7
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
The section above Westwater is called Ruby Horse-Thief. Probably more beginner appropriate.
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Old 01-05-2011   #8
TakemetotheRiver's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,477
I can't recommend the San Juan in the Winter highly enough- it is the most beautiful place to be in the winter time. The permits are easy to get, there is no one else around, and Slickhorn Canyon's grottos and pools, when iced over, are one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

Last Christmas, we did row out in slush (more like shoveling snow than rowing) and agreed that one more night on the river would have seen ice dams.

We must've seen over 20 bald eagles and not another soul for 5 days.

The previous January, I did the upper section of the San Juan and it is also beautiful and has Bighorns. I prefer the lower section, but the upper section can be done in a weekend.

The ranger will know if the river is free of ice.

R/H is also cool in the winter, but not as cool, and takes almost the same amount of time.

There's always the Salt in February, but it's not a beginner run.

Have fun and get out there- I think too many boaters miss a whole new boating season when it snows!
"There is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?" -Wind in the Willows
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Old 01-05-2011   #9
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
If were willing to go as far as the Salt,the Verde runs as early and is easier with excellent scenery.
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Old 01-05-2011   #10
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New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,105
The Colorado from Glenwood down is doable. After South Canyon, you can still get a little sunshine but lose it again before New Castle. Above Glenwood, Shoshone is real boney and would be challenging and ice has formed across the slow section at No Name.

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