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Old 12-10-2003   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
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beta on Pagosa Sps area kayaking for july 2004

I am intermediate paddler comfortable on class III+ and some IV, I will be in the Pagosa Spgs Colorado area next summer, I would like to paddle a couple of days there, maybe in the Durango area, but I'd like to know what the options are in the area.

I know the durango (or is it animas?) river runs through Durango and there is a nice little ww park there, I'd like to go play in that area, but I've heard the river upstream (between silverton and Durango) is EXTREME...I just want to find a good fun III or "easy" IV area to run.

Anyone from that area want to take me around?
Recommendations?

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Old 12-10-2003   #2
 
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Durango, Colorado
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Durango is the better choice. The Animas flows alot longer and larger with better rapids. The San Juan is OK but will probably be in the last stages by July. (low water) If you do decide to paddle the San Juan the run starts at the hotsprings (anywhere in Pagosa) and runs about 14 miles south of town. Again this run is pretty tame and July will be low water. The shuttle is not difficult but you do have to know where you are going. Any boater in Pagosa should be able to help you. Hit up the book store on main and the owner can help you, he is a boater. The Upper Animas is an awsome run but I would not recomend it unless you have someone who is experienced with the river or you are a strong class V paddler.

In July the best flows will be on the Arkansas, not to far from Pagosa.
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Old 12-11-2003   #3
 
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Also consider the Rio Grande

Aside from the Animas and the Delores, you can hit the Chama and the Lower Taos Box / Pilar area. Taos is about 2 1/2 hours from Pagosa and worth the trip.....
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Old 12-11-2003   #4
 
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Durango, Colorado
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He will be here in July! All of the above will not be running except if you get lucky you might be able to catch a permit on the Chama. Just depends on how much water Texas buys and if they even decide to release it. El Flaco must be from Denver.
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Old 12-11-2003   #5
 
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I may be repeating myself.........

if you are the person who posted this on BT yesterday, then you may be getting a repeat.......about the Piedra....

just west of Pagosa Springs. Take out is US 160 and the road up to the putin is just east of the 160 bridge over the river. Very interesting road up.......don't look down and hope you don't meet oncoming trafic due to narrowness. This is the Section referred to as First Box and is about 10 - 11 miles back to 160. Good solid IV (-V at high water) in the first couple miles (The BOx) with pool-drop style rapids, easily scouted/portaged mostly river-right. You know when you come up to a good drop from loss of horizon line and most of these rapids have been formed from landslides so be looking for obvious slides and horizon lines. Once you get past the good stuff it calms down to more western style continuous II-III with a beautiful wooded canyon and remoteness all the way back to the hwy. Good hot springs on river left about half way. I've run it at low water in July (creeky in the Box section)and at high water in July with big snow pack.....but don't always expect it to flow much into July in average years.

The Animas may be a bit much for a class III boater....you need good IV skills, IMHO. Coldest fricking water I've ever put my hands in.

Get the book for all the local creeks such as Lime, Velicito, etc.




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Old 12-11-2003   #6
 
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Durango, Colorado
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Tomcat, what year was the piedra flowing in July? The piedra river runs early in the year, April-June. I wouldn't count on any of the runs listed above unless we have an epic snow pack. Although we are having a great start, Wolf Creek already has 129 inches and have 15 days!
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Old 12-12-2003   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosurfgod
Tomcat, what year was the piedra flowing in July? The piedra river runs early in the year, April-June. I wouldn't count on any of the runs listed above unless we have an epic snow pack. Although we are having a great start, Wolf Creek already has 129 inches and have 15 days!

Gawd...now I have to remember the years.......

I think it was July '92 that we paddled Piedra the first week in July at a low level. Then in July '95 that was a big snow year with the Piedra still running big......everything was running big that year....Animas was still around 5,000 cfs at Durango, Taos Box at 4,500 (paddled that solo.....yea baby!) all through the first two weeks in July.



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Old 12-12-2003   #8
 
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like most folks have said july, is late for most of the rivers in that immediate area -
If you get lucky and the Piedra is still running go down with someone who knows it - There are a couple spots that could get you into trouble on the lower box and if you swim and lose gear it could end up being a miserable hike -
The if the upper Animas is still running and between 1000 and 1500 cfs (which is not likely) it is not that difficult if you dont blindly run the big three drops and take out above the rockwood box but like the Piedra it is remote and icy cold so go with someone who knows it -
The East Fork of the San Juan is just outside Pagosa and is a class III with possible wood to watch for but it will be long over by July
The Chama day run does not require a permit and is a fairly short drive from Pagosa - it is class II but really beautiful and usually flows into August because it is dam release - anything above 600 is runnable - the only problem is they drained the reservoir last year so I dont know how long they will be able to release this year -
The upper Delores - above Mcphee will be done by then - and the river below Mcphee hasnt run in years -
The Gunnison Gorge is dam release and should still be running - the hike in is a pain in the ass but the run is beautiful - lots of flat water and some mild class III drops - it is a bit of a drive from Pagosa but one of the few class three late season runs
The Rio Grande has had about three dismal seasons in a row and unless the Lower Box is above 1000 dont bother - you can run the Race Course down to about 300 but I would drive all that way unless it is over 500 or there are no other options
There is a Play Park in Farmington that is on the Animas and you can have a little fun there all the way down to about 300 cfs but it could be dry in July because of low flows and irrigation -
The Arkansas will probably be your best bet for easy access and consistent flows that time of year - it is probably about a 3 hour drive but once you get there access to everything is easy and shuttles and boating partners abound and there are many runs at all different levels
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Old 12-12-2003   #9
 
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Golden, Colorado
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Pre-Drought SW boating

Yeah Tomcat- Some of the folks can't remember or weren't boaters before the drought hit SW Colorado. I lived in Durango from '94 to '00, and I remember hitting the Taos Box in July 1995 at over 2000 cfs. It's true that it hasn't run that late in the year for at least 5 years now, but that's no reason not to check the flows when he gets to town and suggest a run that's in the immediate area. I'm not suggesting that someone drive blindly down to Taos in search of water. I've hit the Piedra in late October after a few days of rain.

If the Rio Grande and San Juan drainages finally get the winter they're supposed to, there will be a lot of options - or, if the drought continues, the options will be few.

If you're going to come off as a "local", at least know what you're talking about.
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Old 12-12-2003   #10
 
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Durango, Colorado
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My bad, I have only been boating for about 5 years, so I have not experience the high waters that you describe. I still think July will come and we will see who is right. The conditions you describe are best case senarios not average.
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