Dolores TR - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-07-2008   #1
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Dolores TR

Since I think I remember someone asking for it, here goes:

Just got off a 2 day trip through Dolores Canyon. Air and Water temps were cold, flows were about 1000.

Perhaps it was the years of hype about it since it hasn't really run in 7 years and listening to the tales of yore the old man has about it, but it wasn't what I expected. I was expecting a remote and scenic class III desert float with a IV+ (according to CRC and SWR).

To start off, we had 4 sets of directions to the take-out from 3 different books and wandered around before we found it. Hwy 666 in SWR and the Gazetteer is actually marked as Hwy 491 on the road and most atlantes. The rest of the roads are labeled as described. The take-out is found just upstream of the bridge over the Dolores in Slickrock, on river-right. We had no issues with vehicles left at the put-in or take-out. Follow the BLM signs to Lone Dome to get to the Bradfield Launch (and turn left when you get to the sign marking Bradfield).

The put-in camping sucks. There are toilets. The water pump was not working.

We did not see a ranger or any evidence of one the entire trip.

The river is pretty much all class II with a couple rapids that are IIIish. Snaggletooth is a IV. The river does however move at a good clip the entire time and there is hardly any flatwater to speak of.

There is a river-wide strainer about 10 miles downstream of Bradfield. Kayaks were able to go right over this. The raft (a 16' cat) was able to push/line the boat over and around on the far river-right edge. If it hits the 4G's of 100% release, this will most probably move. Be heads up.

The scenery is good (alpine desertish at the put-in) and gets progressively better the farther you go (pretty sweet sandstone canyon walls at the end). I think part of the source of disappointment for me was the fact that I was expecting a remote overnighter but there was actually a road paralleling the river for a large portion of the stretch. We saw a number of cars and trucks passing or parked. In addition to the road, we found a number of campsites with fire-rings and wooden groovers.

It was a great trip but I would be inclined to do Slickrock to Bedrock if I were looking for scenery (just judging by what we saw in the drive in and photos; I haven't done that one) or Westwater/Cat/Salt/Deso for whitewater. With good weather, it would be an excellent mellow family float without ever really being concerned about remoteness.

Photos and video (including the Snaggletooth beat-down) to come shortly.

COUNT

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Old 04-07-2008   #2
 
Golden, Colorado
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thanks for the info

Am considering using this float as my inaugural trip in my own boat. Thanks for the info, very helpful.
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Old 04-07-2008   #3
Kjirsten
 
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Durango, Colorado
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All true Count- just a few clarifications (rafter's 2 cents):

The strainer is right at about mile 10 and a half and around a bend so not immediately visible to a raft- the kayakers were handy in pointing it out.

Coming from Mancos/Dolores (East) the best marker for the turn to the putin is the Hovenweep National Monument sign. It says turn left for the monument. Turn right for the river road. The signs are crooked and unreadable from the highway- but they say BB and 16 respectively.

The map says to park at the cafe, but parking is available right at the takeout for $5 a day (with a self serve box). The map also shows the takeout before the bridge at Slickrock- driving in it is actually after the bridge.

I believe the rapids were washed out at this level- at lower and higher flows you could see more rock gardens or wave trains respectively.

Lots of rocks/sleepers/ pourovers in this river. Rafts should scout Son of Snag/ Little Snag as well as Snaggletooth. At about mile 24 there are a couple of newly fallen, extremely sharp, raft ripping rocks just left of center- at a little higher level they could be an issue but are in flat water and easily avoided at most flows.

3 mile rapid should be called Lots of Rocks Rapid- at this level, it is 3 miles long, but characterized by giant boulders mostly that create narrow passages for rafts- cool, but not class III.

The run is easily done in 2 days.

The last 10 miles is different than anything I've seen, but I won't give it away here- overall I thought it was a beautiful canyon.

Can't wait to see the video...
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Old 04-07-2008   #4
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
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And as for the Devil's Highway... they changed it to 491 a number of years ago.
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Old 04-07-2008   #5
gh
 
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Quote:
And as for the Devil's Highway... they changed it to 491 a number of years ago.
and thats just wrong
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Old 04-07-2008   #6
 
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Takemetotheriver-

From your prospective, how difficult is it to get a raft over the strainer. Did you line it through as Count suggested, or was it a full on portage? Is it possible with a little work that a passage can be made? Is this a logjam/brushy kind of strainer? I am thinking of taking the family to do Bradfield to Mountain Sheep this weekend. Are the channels clear and easy to read or will there be a lot of rock scrapping at this level?

Thanks for the beta! -RC
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Old 04-07-2008   #7
Kjirsten
 
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Channels are mostly clear and easy to read- there are lots of sleepers, but as long as you're paying attention, nothing big until Little Snag- even the few we hit were soft and easy to spin off. The water moves quickly all the way to Mtn Sheep and is definitely deep enough- no scraping, just some maneuvering.

We lined the boat around the right end through the reeds. Not difficult. The strainer is a full on tree- not brushy, just a long trunk with several limbs coming off. There was some dissension about whether or not we could have simply gone over it and broken the limbs in the process (Kayakers: on rafting ). For the sake of the raft, I wouldn't suggest that. At lower levels it will be worse, at higher it could be gone.

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Originally Posted by rivermanryan View Post
Takemetotheriver-

From your prospective, how difficult is it to get a raft over the strainer. Did you line it through as Count suggested, or was it a full on portage? Is it possible with a little work that a passage can be made? Is this a logjam/brushy kind of strainer? I am thinking of taking the family to do Bradfield to Mountain Sheep this weekend. Are the channels clear and easy to read or will there be a lot of rock scrapping at this level?

Thanks for the beta! -RC
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Old 04-10-2008   #8
 
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Durango, Colorado
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Where is this snaggletooth beatdown video????
I need a good laugh today! Or some visual on what is going to happen to me soon...

-russ
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Old 04-10-2008   #9
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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We're planning on doing the D in late May.

We've got 5 river days to do it.

It's 100 miles from Bradfield to Bedrock. That's a lot for 5 days. Should we push and do it? Sounds like a good current could help get us pretty far. If not, should we take out at the midway point btween Slick and Bed rock?

Any other variations/ideas on this would help us in planning.

Gracias.
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Old 04-10-2008   #10
Kjirsten
 
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Easy 5 days. Late May is scheduled for even bigger releases than we had and we easily made ~25 miles a day from Bradfield to Slickrock.

And Count- I second rg5hole- where's the video and pics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bula View Post
We're planning on doing the D in late May.

We've got 5 river days to do it.

It's 100 miles from Bradfield to Bedrock. That's a lot for 5 days. Should we push and do it? Sounds like a good current could help get us pretty far. If not, should we take out at the midway point btween Slick and Bed rock?

Any other variations/ideas on this would help us in planning.

Gracias.
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