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Old 05-26-2016   #1
kristyn's Avatar
Cañon City, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5
Rio Chama at 2500 cfs

We have a permit to run Rio Chama below El Vado Reservoir next week, when flows are expected to be 2500 cfs. (Quite a bit more than we were expecting.)

Generally, I understand that this section of the Chama is pretty easy-going. But we've never run this section in the past and are planning to bring along two children, 4 & 5yo. My husband and I are experienced boaters, and we brought the kids down the San Juan last year.

My primary questions at these 2500 flows include:
- What's the character of the river at this level?
- Anything (rapids, holes, etc.) we should be aware of, including on the day stretch below the Monastery?
- Assuming all is ok from the questions above, do you think we'd be fine bringing kids on the river assuming we have designated swimmers for each?

Any input is greatly appreciated; thanks!

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Old 05-26-2016   #2
Corrales, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 46
It'll be faster. Bigger wave trains on the Class 2 stuff, Class 3's are still OK, even sort of washed out and mostly read and run. Aragon Rapid at MM10 is an easy scout. There's Undercut Rapid below the monastery just past Chavez Canyon that can catch people off guard. You can scout Gage Station Rapid, there's a hole in the middle toward the bottom. If your skilled and prepared enough to take little ones at 600-800, you should be fine at 2500.

I've done Coopers Ranch to Chavez Canyon as a day run at 2400 several times, about 5 hours river time.

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Old 05-27-2016   #3
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
There is no need to scout anything on the Chama. Even at 2500 cfs it is all class II. Still easier than almost every section of the Arkansas at comparable flow...even Milk Run and Rincon. The only differences from lower flow are faster current, more splashes and harder to catch eddies when you want to take a break or set up camp.
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Old 05-28-2016   #4
kristyn's Avatar
Cañon City, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5
Thanks for the info, guys! I've got it all down; it definitely helps. Looking forward to our trip next week!
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Old 05-31-2016   #5
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 2
Great Question

Thanks, Krystin. I was going to post the exact same question. We're launching this weekend with kids ranging from 2-9. Anyone else have advice or input?
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Old 06-01-2016   #6
Rojo's Avatar
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 184
Rio Chama flows cut back.

Looks like Chama flows are already being cut back, with release from El Vado at only 1360 cfs this morning. Not sure if weekend release will increase again. Chama daily stretch is easy 1.5 hr at 4000, 2 hrs at 2600, and 2.5 hrs at 1000.

I talked to a group last weekend that did Cooper's to Big Eddy in 6 hours on 4k cfs, so enjoy the extra time on the river with the moderate flows.

USGS Current Conditions for USGS 08285500 RIO CHAMA BELOW EL VADO DAM, NM
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Old 06-01-2016   #7
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 2
Thanks, Rojo! This is super helpful. 😊

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