San Miguel Fence- Norwood Canyon takeout to Naturita - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-29-2013   #1
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1
San Miguel Fence- Norwood Canyon takeout to Naturita

A seldom run section of the San Miguel yeilds multiple potential hazards. Approxamately 4 miles downstream of the Green Truss Bridge (bottom end of Norwood Canyon), at the first bridge that crosses the river is a "river friendly fence" reinforced with heavy gauge Hog Fence- the welded kind that comes in big panels. this is not navagable and a serious hazard to boaters. We were forced to trespass and lift the fence with some ropes to make a bit of an arch to sneak under, which was still sketchy.

In addition this run has 6 diverson structures, the first of which appears 3 miles down from the green truss bridge and is a cement, 3 ft verticle drop- similar to the one that used to be upstream at the tail end of Norwood canyon near ledges. There was one other cement diversion that had a better angle to it and multiple cobble diversion dams in various states of repair. All were navagable in rafts, though smaller craft could get caught in the recirculating hole in the first diversion, and this would likely be a rough swimmer-catcher as well. I imagine many of these can change in shape from year to year with the efforts of irrigators.

We also had to navigate 8 fences- with the exception of the second fence (described above) the rest were all navagable between 500 and 800 cfs in 14 ft rafts with a bit of head bumping on the hanging black and pvc tubes as you slide under. I would venture to guess that at above 1000cfs or so that all of these fences would be so low as to be impassable and become serious hazards to navigation. In addition there was one large cable with pallets hanging from it- the last one before Naturita. Fortunately most had fallen off and we could still get under. Much metal exists in this stretch due to old cars and junk used in the past to stabilize/channelize. The float below Naturita to the Dolores Confluence has no hazards,(except some downed cottonwoods in the river to keep an eye out for) but lacks in public lands for camping- so make it a nice long day stretch (plus the recent in-stream-flow secured (375 cfs)may extend the season for canoes in this stretch!).

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Old 05-29-2013   #2
Ridgway, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 76
thanks for the update!
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