Upper Animas Logistics Help - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-08-2012   #1
Charlottesville, Virginia
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 38
Upper Animas Logistics Help


I really want to do a two day Upper Animas kayak trip this June. I am really confused by all the logistical concerns in play for this run. We will do the shuttle the day before and we will not be running Rockwood Box.

How do organize the night on the river? It seems like people stay in Neddleton. Do we camp or is there a place to stay there? Do we carry our camping gear or can we get train to bring it in? If train brings it in, can train take it out before day 2 of paddling? I have never paddled a loaded kayak, so would prefer avoiding that if possible.

How do we organize the takeout. It seems like the following is the best option? Park vehicle at Rockwood Yard and take out at Tacoma power plant. Then, catch the train from Tacoma to Rockwood Yard. If we miss the train, we could walk 2 miles along the tracks. How much does that suck?

I guess my biggest confusion stems from the overnight portion of the trip.

Any help would be appreciated, especially 1st hand experience of what worked well for people concerning the overnight portion.


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Old 04-08-2012   #2
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 19
Unquestionably send your gear in via train. It goes north out of Durango in the am (3 trains) and heads back in the afternoon from Silverton. Drop your gear off in the morning when you set your shuttle at rock wood station. Call the train for prices, timing. Very difficult area to find camping night before. We ended up roadside close to Silverton in one of the major drainages. Lime creek turn off.

The put in is on a frontage road river right. Just follow it until you can't go further. You'll see a river map put up by the forest service.

Be careful of the level you put on. River completely changes character. Make sure you have a detailed topo and fire starter under your dry suit. Someone posted an earlier post with one you can buy a custom topo from a paddler. Do it.

You camp river right at the needleton bridge. The first foot bridge you cross after the rapids hit. After crossing the tracks, There's an obvious clearing before the mountain begins its ascent. 80 yards downstream right is a raft company tent. There's a few cabins river left. Unsure if they're rentable There is spring water coming out of a pipe prior to the raft company tent. That said, drinking a few gallons of river water didn't seem to affect me negatively.

I didn't hike out prior to rock wood, but you wouldn't want to hike those tracks with a train coming. There is no where to go. The hike is sucky, made worse with gear. Dragging didn't seem to work. Make sure you're well before or wait until the last train passes.
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Old 04-08-2012   #3
dgosn's Avatar
San Juans, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 487
The 'camping' described above is on private land. Look at a Forest Service map and you can see where it ends.

Mania's rivermap is a must have if it's your first trip.
Mania's Lost Souls River Guide to the Animas and Piedra Rivers

1200(class IV)cfs is WAY different than 2000+cfs(class V).

The train can take your gear/boats out at Tacoma, just expect to pay some $$ and be on time (5:20pm?). You can then hike out to avoid the cost of a long slow ride..
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Old 04-08-2012   #4
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,017
Definitely one of my favorite river trips.

Whenever we asked the train we get different answers. Alot of times they say they will not take baggage without a paying passenger. If you have someone riding the train in, your golden. But if not, this is what we've done and so far haven't had any problems. It seems the people actually running the train have a different attitude than the people who answer the phones. The people running the train seem to enjoy being a "working train" and hauling gear in their baggage car rather then just toting around a bunch of tourists:

We always put our stuff in drybags and bring it to the train station in Durango the morning of our run. Take some duct tape and write in big letters "Needleton". Tell them to unload your stuff at needleton. Drive up to Rockwood and leave a shuttle vehicle there. Drive everyone up to Silverton and put on. (Try not to do the run on the Memorial day weekend day (Sat?) when the bike ride is going on. The road is closed until 12:00.) Boat down to Needleton. Hopefully your stuff is at Needleton waiting by the tracks when you get there. We've always had my wife hike in with the dogs from Purgatory flats when I've done it and camp all set up by the time I got there. Camp, have a few beers and a steak that the train brought in. In the morning know what time the train gets there and have your stuff waiting. Boat the rest of the way out and either hike out at Tacoma or at the end of the Rockwood Box. I've always done rockwood, so I can't say how the hike out at Tacoma is. Or take the train out from Tacoma on it's way back to Durango. If you didn't take the train out of Tacoma, go and pick your stuff up at the Durango station. Run shuttle and pick up your other vehicle in Silverton.

Great trip. Not to be missed.

Has anyone ever not had their stuff waiting for them in Needleton when they got there? That would probably suck .
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Old 04-08-2012   #5
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,017
I suppose a variation of this would be to not leave a vehicle at Rockwood and just take the train from Tacoma all the way back to Durango after your second day of boating. Never done this. Make sure you don't have an epic and miss the train at Tacoma.

Another variation that I haven't done may be to take the train from Durango to Silverton, dropping off your gear at needleton on the way up. Boat down to needleton, camp, load your gear in the morning and boat the rest of the way down to Tacoma and catch the train out. Has anyone done this? This would alleviate some of the anxiety about all your gear getting unloaded in Needleton by the train crew.
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Old 04-09-2012   #6
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388
Those are some serious front range logistics. Put on at Silverton, pack steaks, whiskey and beer in the boat, camp where ever the fuck you want, run rockwood. If you decide not to run rockwood, hike out, 2 miles, no gradient.
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Old 04-09-2012   #7
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,017
or that.
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