Originally Posted by westernCOboater
Ive been IK’ing on flat water in and around Grand Junction, CO but getting bored and looking for a bit more excitement—just don’t want to get in over my head. Gunny Gorge—what is the best water level for lower level intermediate skill. I whitewater raft and canoe too so not a total beginner.
Base flow is ~330. Rarely gets lower than that (not in at least 8 or 9 years that I've seen) and is decidedly class II-III at that flow.
Up to about 700 is still very easy II+ to III+ read and run, with the exception of ~4 rapids near the end that could probably be called IV-. All scoutable, all portageable if desired.
Above 1000 some rapids start to develop stronger hydraulics and some of the last handful of rapids are pushing legitimate IV.
It's a great backyard run. I've hiked in and floated out more than 50 times in the last ~7 years, mostly because I was living in GJ and it's the closest thing to a 'backyard run'.
I've taken many raw beginners down the Gorge in packrafts at up to ~1000cfs, because the rapids are short and easy and always end in a long, slow pool where we can stuff them back in their boats if they fall out.
I almost never drove all the way down to the Chukar trailhead. There's a small side road ~4 miles up -- just before the road starts to drop more steeply -- where we always parked, and just walked in from there. From there it was one hour of hiking to the river, any 2wd car could make it that far, and you saved time overall by not needing to drive down (and back out) to retrieve your shuttle vehicle.
Once you get the hang of Chukar down, try going in via the Warner Route. Shorter but much steeper hike in, and a handful of bonus rapids in the added ~7 miles of river that you get to see. Also bigger walls up there, the better to make you feel insignificant.