Rio Chama TR (El Vado to Big Eddy) - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-10-2008   #1
Steamboat/Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 9
Rio Chama TR (El Vado to Big Eddy)

Ran the Rio Chama from El Vado dam to Big Eddy this past weekend. No problems in my 12' raft @1400cfs.

Overall, this trip exceeded my expectations in terms of scenery and remoteness. The first 20 miles are especially nice. After that, a road appears riverside, although the scenery is still great and the road is set back out of view most of the time. Camping was no problem since we saw only 1 other party in 3 days.

Its not much of a whitewater trip, but there was some class 2+ water to keep it from being a complete sleeper. This stretch is lottery permitted after May 1, but a free-for-all until then. Apparently, the dam does not always flow like it is now in April. Good wilderness camping run to poach before the permit regime is in effect.

We paid about $70 at the El Vado put in for a shuttle. Just walk into the store and ask the guy there, and he can hook you up.

A few representative photos from our trip are attached.
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Old 04-14-2008   #2
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 179
I am jealous that you managed the whole El Vado to Big Eddy run so early! My wife and I did the Chavez Canyon to Big Eddy section this past Saturday (4/12) and had the river to ourselves at approx. 1200-1300cfs.

It probably helps that it was snowing sideways and in the mid 30s on Friday when we drove up to scout from the road on Friday(we are pretty new at this stuff). We stayed in Abiquiu on Friday night and hit the river at 11:30 on Saturday (hoping it would get into the 50s).

The run was uneventful and we had a blast. Much faster than the other time we ran it last September (approx 650cfs), but not really to much harder. We took the chicken lines on Gauging Station and screaming left, but given the air and water temp it seemed prudent.

The Chama River valley is such a beautiful place and is only a slightly longer drive for us than Pilar and standard easy fare on the Rio Grande. We definitely plan to hit it a bunch more times this paddling season, including a mid week trip on the wild and scenic a little later on.

If our pictures look worth posting I will try and add some later this week. I fear that the ones showing me in my wetsuit might blind the unprepared.

Best wishes,

George Marsden
Los Alamos, NM
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