Chama on 4th of July - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-11-2018   #1
 
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2006
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Chama on 4th of July

Hey everyone,

We are planning on floating the Chama July 3-5 (mid-week) and were a little concerned about the flows. Any opinions about mid-week flows in early July on the Chama (El Vado down)? Historically USGS data looks like they have water that week. We will be in 16ft family trucksters. Thanks for any beta from locals.

Josh

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Old 04-11-2018   #2
Pieter Porcupine
 
Salida, Colorado
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We have a Wednesday launch the following week and I’m wondering the same.
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Old 04-12-2018   #3
 
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
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Walking with raft over rocks and sandbars is no fun. Been there done that.
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Old 04-12-2018   #4
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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It's virtually impossible to give an accurate estimate of what the dam operators will be releasing mid-week 3 months from now, but I can tell you that El Vado Reservoir is not holding a lot of water and the Chama basin's snowpack is well below average..... Things can change between now and then, especially if it starts raining, but based on my experience I would say your chances are slim of having very much water in the rio.
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Old 04-12-2018   #5
 
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
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The flows will be low due to the low water in the snowpack/reservoirs, but at the same time Colorado will likely take most (all) of the water in the Rio Grande. If they keep the Rio Grande around 200 CFS at TJB, they are likely to release water through the week rather than releasing weekend recreation flows because they will need to let water out of Abiquiu Lake through the week to keep irrigators along the Middle Rio Grande in water.

They could do weekend releases and keep the flow steady out of Abiquiu, but that's not what they've done in the past, they seem to want to keep Abiquiu at a fairly constant level.

I'm pretty hopeful about prospects for IK trips during the week on 200-400 CFS, I would have concerns about a 16' raft though.
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Old 04-12-2018   #6
 
Denver, Colorado
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Thanks for the feedback. I know it's tough to crystal ball what's going to happen from now to then. It's looking like a tough year all the way around.

We wanted to be in southern CO/ Northern NM. Any non-permitted family friendly favs we should check out as back-up plans?
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Old 04-12-2018   #7
 
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Orilla Verde near Pilar on the Rio Grande has some great day runs and good camping, but I think flows there will also be a bit low for a 16' raft unless conditions change.

Whiterock Canyon is a good option for non-permitted overnight, the water from the Chama + Rio Grande will be flowing through there so you should get 600-700CFS there, enough to float a 16' raft, though it still be a fairly small river for that size raft but you shouldn't have to push. The trick there is always watch the wind forecast for takeout day as you'll be crossing Cochiti Lake, which is an easy paddle with no wind but can be dangerous to impossible in high winds.
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Old 04-12-2018   #8
 
Denver, Colorado
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Thank you, Issip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Issip View Post
Orilla Verde near Pilar on the Rio Grande has some great day runs and good camping, but I think flows there will also be a bit low for a 16' raft unless conditions change.

Whiterock Canyon is a good option for non-permitted overnight, the water from the Chama + Rio Grande will be flowing through there so you should get 600-700CFS there, enough to float a 16' raft, though it still be a fairly small river for that size raft but you shouldn't have to push. The trick there is always watch the wind forecast for takeout day as you'll be crossing Cochiti Lake, which is an easy paddle with no wind but can be dangerous to impossible in high winds.
I appreciate all of the beta.
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Old 04-12-2018   #9
 
Denver, Colorado
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Issip, Is it cool to make this trip an overnighter?

https://www.americanwhitewater.org/c...etail/id/1225/
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Old 04-12-2018   #10
 
Jenks, Oklahoma
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I have quite a few Rio Chama floats over the years.

No one seems to know the release schedule.

Just recently I tracked down the organization that tells the dam operators what and when to release.

It is a irrigation committee that determines releases for the entire Rio Grande down stream from the upstream dams, I have found info on the committee but other than basic information no contact points.

So, based on my research attempting to get a release schedule is just not going to happen.

Most of my Chama floats have been in May mid week. Last year we were out there for a mid week launch. When we left Taos, Chama was running 1500 and had been for several days around the clock. We got to the dam and noticed water was low. Asked the outfitter and he said they had just went to 500 cfs. No reason given.

Based on my experience during the season week end releases are pretty much scheduled but in week releases do not follow any schedule I have found.

Lmyers is correct, from my contacts it is gonna be low water for the Rio Chama and below this season.
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