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Old 01-29-2017   #1
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jun 2016
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Need Your input!

Need some advice! My family, wife, 2 boys ages 6 and 5 and girl aged 3 will be camping at Vallie Bridge on the Arkansas over Memorial Day weekend. I guided on the Ark over 10 years ago, but mostly on the lower Bighorn Sheep canyon (3 rocks/5points down). I've captained Westwater a handful of times. Guided on the Lehigh in PA for a few seasons and have some experience on the Poudre. I have a 15.5 foot Avon oar rig (bucket). Question is given my crew and my experience as above, is Rincon to Vallie bridge doable as a low consequences family float around that time of the season? I realize the water will be cold. I'm mostly asking if this is a reasonable trip with very low flip/swimmer potential? Thanks for the input!

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Old 01-29-2017   #2
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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That's a good question, and the answer will depend on the spring weather. We have a solid snowpack currently, actually it's well above average. Unless the snow stops and we have a major melt in March and April it's going to be a high water year on the Ark. Memorial Day is tricky though, because it's usually 50/50 if the melt has really kicked in yet or not. Going off averages, yes it should be at an optimum level for you. Average is in the 800 cfs range at Wellsville. If it's over 1200 or so I don't think I would recommend taking a bucket boat with children, and the 3 year old is questionable at all considering your knowledge of the run. Tin cup can be a solid III-III+. Salida to Rincon or Trading Post to Texas Creek might be better options.
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Old 01-29-2017   #3
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
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Join Date: Jun 2016
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That's the info I was looking for! Thanks! I'll look into the other runs you mentioned as well. I may try the Rincon to Vallie B on Saturday with an adult friend first to gauge it for a family run the next day. So the rapids between Salida and the start of bighorn sheep canyon can be legit at times?
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Old 01-29-2017   #4
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
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It seems like you have the requisite experience to handle that stretch fine. Tin cup is a legit rapid, but most of the rest of that section is pretty tame. Keep in mind it's all roadside, so you could possibly scout anything questionable beforehand and have mom walk the kids around, as long as you identify some good exit points up to the road.
The other sections mentioned below are great options too for a family float. If you leave from salida or salida east, then just above rincon there's a good swimming hole and beach that would be fun if the weather's nice. Floating big bend into town or down to salida east would also be a good float.
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Old 01-30-2017   #5
 
lmyers's Avatar
 
Buena Vista, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuckhaint View Post
That's the info I was looking for! Thanks! I'll look into the other runs you mentioned as well. I may try the Rincon to Vallie B on Saturday with an adult friend first to gauge it for a family run the next day. So the rapids between Salida and the start of bighorn sheep canyon can be legit at times?
Tincup is the only rapid that actually has a drop to it, and is pretty easy read and run at low to medium flows. Bear Creek is the other rapid of note and it's the biggest in the Salida to Rincon stretch. I would call it II+/III- at most flows, but once things go over 2000 or so you do get a rather large hole towards the end that can be hard to avoid. Really the majority of the water between Big Bend and Vallie Bridge is class II, but it can become very swift at higher flows making for a difficult swim for children.
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Old 02-18-2017   #6
 
Gunnison, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2013
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Only rapids from Valley bridge to lone pine are cottonwood and black hole. Class III at most but not much to consider for Memorial Day flows. Black hole might have a feature on the left that's easy to miss. With a boat that size it will be tight in spots


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