How's the BV to Johnson Village stretch of the Ark? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-31-2005   #1
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388
How's the BV to Johnson Village stretch of the Ark?

I'm looking for a class II+ stretch of the Ark for my son and friends. What I see up from Johnson Village and down from Buena Vista seems perfect. But, I know that stretch has a diversion dam with a funky boater chute.

How bad is that chute? Is the middle part of that stretch like what I see from Johnson Village and Buena Vista?


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Old 05-31-2005   #2
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
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I too am wondering about this stretch. Anyone have experience with it?
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Old 06-01-2005   #3
Join Date: May 2004
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Been awhile since I've been down there but yes there is definately a diversion dam downstream of BV. At high water there is a long tongue that feeds you to a nasty hole that can be avoided if you continue driving left while on the tongue. If you are off line there is an even nastier hole on the right which has trashed many a boater (used to be an engine block in it). Its definately not class II. I know there are some private land issues associated with scouting (done on the left) and portaging.

There is also a pretty straight forward Class III drop in there as well. Otherwise its mostly class II.
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Old 06-01-2005   #4
Join Date: May 2004
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I took a beginner down last Sunday. Although it was at 2000cfs, I wouldn't recomend it for a beginner at this level. Just after the park, the pace picks up. At the level we ran it, it was very continuous with several moves for a beginner to make to miss holes and large waves that could trip them up. I would say at that cfs level it was a solid III to III+. At the diversion, there is a tongue on the right, but fed into a III++'ish hole/wave. The pace slows a little, but still continuous III until the edge of town. From there to the take out was II.
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Old 06-01-2005   #5
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I wouldn't say the BV run is fit for may want to try from the bridge down to Ruby Mtn. That is called the Milk Run. I haven't done it this year, but I ran it twice early last year. It was not at these levels, but it was a good class II run. I don't remember anything too hazardous on it.
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Old 06-01-2005   #6
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
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try lower still

At the levels the river's running, everywhere is pretty pushy. The Fractions and the Milk Run are sold III and III+. Not good for the beginner. Please consider Stone Bridge to downtown Salida or Salida to Rincon.
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Old 06-01-2005   #7
pnw, Colorado
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Go to Deckers with us this afternoon or some other time. Much less pushy at these levels.
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Old 06-01-2005   #8
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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That dam below BV was a lot more than I expected with a pretty big drop into some churning water on the left. As I was going over it, my main thought was "is there rebar down there?" I've heard that there's a scouting easement on the right but am still not sure about that. The "boat chute" seemed more like an aereation structure and not a good ride for the bottom of my raft. I had some questions about it and got in touch with some folks that are familar with it. I was fortunate enough to have Marshal Nichols and then Andy Neinas, one of the local outfitters, provide the info below:

Andy Neinas, Echo Canyon River Expeditions:

You should definitely get the straight talk from our friends at AHRA on this one but I can tell you the land owner on the river right hand side is not pleased with the boating community and has a negative image which extends well beyond what I would consider being appropriate so BE VERY CAREFUL. I am not personally familiar with the personalities on the left hand side but trespass is trespass so avoid the left bank. I used to get permission from the old land owner on the left hand side in the early and mid nineties for reasons of training guides but possession has changed since then.

I am also sold running the left hand side for a variety of reasons at most water levels. Yes, a sign is posted at the BV ramp indicating the dam and private land issues.

The ECHO approach is to run left and not stop above or below the rapid.
I typically line up just left of center, standing on the back tube of my raft so I can see, just left of the jumbled rocks that make up the center at some levels. The water is SO SLOW on the way up to the horizon line that solid boaters should have enough time to make a decision. If people are not used to that run they should be advised that it does look ugly on the left at most levels, however, it is a great hit and I rarely see swimmers from those who hit it dead on. As you know it is a corkscrew wave breaking from left to right at 1700cfs and up, I personally would not miss it for the world and believe it to be one of the biggest drops on the river. Kayakers should be on a low brace with their left blade or just paddle through it.


Andy Neinas
Echo Canyon River Expeditions

-----Original Message-----
From: Marshall Welding [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2004 9:58 AM
To: Horn, J. Andrew; Jay Kenney; Rob White
Cc: Jason Robertson; Adam Eichberg; Pat Tooley
Subject: RE: Ark River - Dam below Buena Vista

Good Morning Andy,

I am copying Rob White in our correspondence, as well as the rest of the people in the distribution. I am not up on the current situation with the property owners, it is my understanding at this point that it is private property and there is a "scouting easement" for the dam.

There is a boat chute on the right, however in the times I have run the dam, I have found the left side considerably safer and easier to run. I confess that I have not done this at lower levels, we generally run from the Numbers to Ruby when the dam comes into play, and this can be a LONG trip at lower levels.

I do believe there is a sign at the BV ball fields warning of the dam, and was just informed by a AHRA ranger that this is posted at the Numbers site too, and he said he thought that there was a sign on the river. AHRA has in the past tried to purchase the dam property from the woman that owns it, but it hasn't happened, and I believe efforts to continue have been terminated.

In short, run left, run right, but stay out of the center. The boat chute on the right was put in by the town of Buena Vista, and in MY opinion, they weren't really up on the hydrology of boat chutes, which is the reason it's not an "Ideal" passage.

Hope this helps,

Marshall Welding
Superior Quality Raft Frames and Trailers Hyside, Maravia and Vanguard dealers
10325 County Road 120 #1
Salida, CO 81201

"If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in water."

-- Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey, 1957.
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 06-01-2005   #9
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388
Thanks for all the info! Nothing wrong with a class III rapid thrown in to a class II stretch. It's interesting that the line is not down the boater chute.

Whoever said these guys are beginners? They're not.

We just did the Milk run. Parts were great at 2200. But, we're looking for a little more.

If you call the Milk run class III, what do you call Brown's Canyon? We're talking real ratings here, not fake ratings that the rafting outfitters use.

Yea, I like the Fractions. But, that may be a bit pushy at these water levels. It's nice having a run in between the Milk Run and the Fractions.
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Old 06-01-2005   #10
The next zone, .
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The "Milk Run" is always easy class II - even in 95'

At the dam there are land owner issues - DO NOT GET OUT AND SCOUT - the river left is private and the river right is a crazy old woman/witch and she hates boaters ¬Ė shotgun style! If you get out on her land you will deal with her. For competent boaters the boat chute rapid is easy (class III) - run right down the tongue in the left channel just right of center.
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