Colorado Early Season/Low Water Rafting? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-18-2005   #1
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 13
Colorado Early Season/Low Water Rafting?

OK, I've just bought a 14' raft and I'm ready to row this weekend. My only problem is that from years of watching rafters scrape through the low water runs I know that what will float my creek boat won't necessarily cut it for big rubber.

Does anyone know of a good II/III to cut my teeth on this weekend, that
A: is close to the Front Range and
B: will have enough water in it to float a 14' raft with an oar rig and a couple of people on it.

I hear that some of the lower sections of the Ark are supposed to be boatable at lower water than the recomended minimums. Does this hold true for a raft? Hopefully it should be running around 400cfs by the weekend.

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Old 04-18-2005   #2
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
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If you're thinking of taking the drive from the FR to the Ark, you should just take I-70 to Glenwood Canyon where you can either run Grizzley Creek for your maiden voyage or get some excitement running the Shoshone section. It'll be running about 2000+ this week. The upper section from Shoshone Power Plant is really fun Class III, the lower run from Grizzley Creek is a great Class II float. Either way, you can float to Two Rivers Park in GS, South Canyon, or all the way to Newcastle. You can hitch the shuttle easily with a paddle or PFD in your hand, though Newcastle's a bit of a hike from the boatramp to I-70. If you haven't rowed before consider launching from Grizzley to get the hang of the oars.

Stay away from the Ark with the raft until its over 600 - 700. I'm still kicking myself for letting this bowmonkey friend of mine talk me into running the Gorge at 600 early last year with my shiny new boat instead of going to ShoSho which was running about 1500 at the time! At least I didn't flinch after that every time I scraped over a rock last season after the bony 'Gorge run!


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 04-19-2005   #3
Join Date: Aug 2004
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So whats the section of the Colorado between Kremmling and Gore Canyon like, and how low can it be ran? Someone told me that it was a good beginner run and it has to be closer and more scenic than Glennwood.
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Old 04-19-2005   #4
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I think you are talking about the pumphouse run, which is a class 2/3, with a lot of flatwater. the run is 11 miles I think, with 2 canyons that have good rapids. the canyons take up less than half of the run, and the rest is flatwater.

It's a good run for sure but shoshone and the grizzly creek run (also called south canyon) are better I think. They are more continuous and have many times the amount of water that pumphouse has. Pumphouse is flowing at 528 cfs right now, and for comparison shoshone is at 2000 and grizzly creek/south canyon is running at over 3000 cfs.

I'd make the drive to shoshone and grizzly creek for your maiden voyage.
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Old 04-19-2005   #5
Join Date: Oct 2003
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For your maiden voyage you need to do 2 rivers in one day. I would float the cemetary section of the roaring fork (1200 today, great 1st time level) and run that right into the colorado and then take out at south canyon. That way you get a big river and small river feel. Cemetary I would say is a 2+ or 3- and then on the colorado from glenwood to south canyon 2.
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Old 04-21-2005   #6
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take andy's raft care advice with a grain of salt. he only had us stop a million times on the way to and from westwater to pick the bugs off and inflate/ deflate, and 303 his raft. its amazing he even gets the thing wet. the way he was cringin' at those rocks in the gorge made him hit every one of them i think. its really not THAT boney at 600. of course i am on the other end of the spectrum. i drag the sum b*tch down clear creek at 200, beating hell out of it all the way. is there another way to run cc at 200 in a raft??? of couse all of this is based on my 12' and would probably want a few more gallons if in a 14. but if i'm jonesin'..........

i have run the gorge as low as 400 and parkdale and browns at 250 when fishing. " fun", slow, slightly technical and boney. obviously the gorge being the toughest of the 3. definitley some lines where you choose which rocks to run/drag over, but hey its co right. lately, if you are not rock strokin', your not colorado boatin'. parkdale actually has "clean" lines at 400. spikebuck being the boniest. plenty of time above everything to stand up and see your line. good thing is most places you will get stuck you just get out and drag the raft off.

pumphouse run, real mellow and the flat is damn slow at 550. good fishing. any wind will have you floating upstream even when rowing. shouldnt have to hit anything but a gravel bar or 2. my seven year old can row most of it in an empty 12'er.
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Old 04-21-2005   #7
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Yeah, Zach didn't have a brand spankin' new boat that day... just make sure you don't have a real ugly bowmonkey on your boat if you run the Gorge at this level!

Gonna miss you on Westy this weekend, ZB! Its gonna be a kick!

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 04-22-2005   #8
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
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We've been boating Royal Gorge in a 14' Avon for the last month. The key is to go a light as possible.

If you don't want to scratch your boat, head for the Colorado. Shoshone is at a fun level right now.
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Old 04-22-2005   #9
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Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
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What kind of boat do you have? I have a hyside (hapalon) 13 footer that is 10 years + old. I bought it last season, it is a little rough around the edges. We've dragged it down all kind of bony stuff and it holds air like a champ. Shoshone is where I'm taking mine this weekend. I just got a new frame, usually been paddle boating so I might just start at Griz Creek this weekend to learn the oars myself. I've been goofing around in some flat water behind my house on the Eagle. I think I could do Shoshone with the oars, but my buddies might swim if I overestimate my oar skills! You can raft Shoshone at 800 cfs with only a little bit of rock scraping if you can manuver around pretty well, I took my boat down a few weeks ago at this level. 2000 is a great level though, not so bony, but not washed out either.

The Upper C (Pumphouse to State Bridge) is a great beginner run, it is where all of us learned to kayak and still love to go for boating, camping and outdoor concerts at state bridge lodge. The water is pretty low for that stretch right now, Glenwood is way better! Rancho to State Bridge is a shorter stretch with less flatwater. Great for learing to raft, kayak, tube, fish, or whatever. Put in at the overpass below rancho del rio for free(instead of at Rancho) and you'll skip a mile of flatwater. Then take out at the boat ramp river left accross from the state bridge lodge for a small fee. If kayaking, take out river right at the lodge for free.

I would wait until this section is at least 700-800cfs. Dam releases usually make the higer flows later in the season up here. Fishing is said to be excellent and there is abundant camping!

Anyways, I'll be down there working on my oar technique this weekend as well, see you on the river!
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