Father Son Rafting Trip out west - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 03-25-2013   #1
 
Raleigh, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2010
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Father Son Rafting Trip out west

My brother my dad and me are trying to plan a trip to go rafting and camping in colorado next year. I have experience backpacking and guided rafting. They have been rafting before but have not had many opportunities to backpack. All three of us are fit and are looking for something exciting. We have never been to Colorado before. Does anyone have any suggestions for a 7 day rafting/ camping trip in colorado that would take us to awe inspiring locations and exciting rapids. We don't want to die, but we are looking for some thrills when it comes to rafting. Thanks for y'alls help!

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Old 03-25-2013   #2
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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There isn't going to be a ton of water in Colorado this year, so I would suggest you look at the state's namesake river, the Colorado. It is also the state's most reliable river. There are many nice options in the river's upper stretches. Here is a BLM guide breaking down river miles, campsites, access points and rapids:

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medial...p_colo_riv.pdf

With seven days you could potentially float all the way from Pumphouse to Dotsero (66 miles). You would mostly be floating easy water, but there are several class II's and a couple class III's. Also there is some hiking available in a few spots with the highlight being the Bull Gulch Wilderness Study Area on river left a short ways below Pinball rapid.

There is also some additional information on American Whitewater:

American Whitewater - CO State Rivers

Hope that helps!
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Old 03-25-2013   #3
 
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Golden, CO
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This might be a once in a lifetime family trip so I would be thinking about something in Idaho. The Main or Middle Salmon or the Selway for example. The Upper Colorado is convenient water for folks in CO but a world class wilderness whitewater experience it's not. If you need to stay in CO or Utah think about the Green or Yampa in Dinasaur NP.
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Old 03-25-2013   #4
 
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C. Springs, Colorado
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There are a lot of good hike options on Ruby/Horsethief.... on the Colorado. You need to apply for a Westwater permit and tie the two sections together. Ruby/horsethief needs a permit too. Good luck.
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Old 03-25-2013   #5
 
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
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I agree, the Upper Colorado might be a good bet. You can rent anything you might need for the river at the 'Rancho Del Rio' put-in, as well as arrange for shuttles...

Note: the upper section gets pretty heavy use with commercial trips and day floaters, so it's not exactly a wilderness experience. It might be the busiest boat ramp in all of Colorado. The crowds thin out as you float down below Rancho Del Rio. There is a dirt road and a rail line that follow the river for most of the upper section, this means you are competing with car campers to find a camp site and you get to listen to trains all night.

Gore Canyon (above the Pumphouse put-in) is nice day hike with less crowds.

Rancho Del Rio - Not Your Usual Resort

Unfortunately any non-permitted river in Colorado is going to be busy. If it were me I would consider separating the backpacking and river stuff. I would do day trips on the busy river then find some isolation on the backpacking trips. There are many, many miles of good backpacking in the area.
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Old 03-25-2013   #6
Old Guy in a PFD
 
Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Since you are looking at next year, watch the snow pack and seriously consider the Dolores. You can easily do a 5 day without getting into more than a III-IV.

Hiking in that area is truly hiking in Gods country. And the thing is, if the runoff doesn't cooperate you can still spend a week hiking in the area/ running the Colorado through Westwater or even get in Cataract, but it sounds like that might be more intense than you are looking for.
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Old 03-25-2013   #7
 
Raleigh, North Carolina
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I appreciate all the responses! Is there any options for a guide that would possibly go with us? I also don't know if backpacking is the best term for what we are trying to do. My dad is coming up on 60 so we probably wouldn't be able to cover much ground. That being said, he is still physically fit enough to handle rafting. I think what we are looking for is a guided rafting/ camping trip. We could definitely hike to during the day, to check out some vista's. I don't know if i'm articulating the distinction adequately, but my experience backpacking is a more intense then what I think he is capable or interested in.
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Old 03-25-2013   #8
 
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Golden, CO
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I gave up backpacking years ago when I discovered whitewater rafting and kayaking. You can get just as far into the wilderness as backpacking but at the end of the day you are eating steaks and drinking cold beer. You can't beat that.
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Old 03-25-2013   #9
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
I gave up backpacking years ago when I discovered whitewater rafting and kayaking. You can get just as far into the wilderness as backpacking but at the end of the day you are eating steaks and drinking cold beer. You can't beat that.
I'm with you, and I'm nowhere near 60!
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Old 03-25-2013   #10
 
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
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If you want a guided trip I would look into booking a seat on a comercial guided trip such as Gates of Lodore (green river) or the Yampa. Both of these trips start in the state of Colorado (Dinasaur National Monument) and finish in Utah.

The commercial trips have space for 20 or so clients and 4-5 pro guides rowing the rafts. Some outstanding scenery for the whole trip with lots of good side hikes. On a commercial trip all you do is set up your own tent each night and the guides take care of everything else. Both of these trips have enough white water in the class III and IV range to make them exciting yet safe. You can book a commercial trip with just a few weeks/days lead time.

If you are more interested in a private trip you could apply for a river permit lottery (deadline for permit application is Jan/Feb for trips the following spring, so this years permits are already filled.) If you hold a permit you can find LOTS of folks that would join your trip and act as guides. A post on the Buzz would result in dozens of skilled boaters willing to help ouit.

You don't need any river experience to be the permit holder, but someone in the group needs to act as 'Trip Leader' and have the required skills and background. Private trips cannot involve payment or fees outside of the shared group expences (hence the private vs. commercial permit types.) You can always return the permit if you can't assemble a group.

Here is somemore info on permits Western river trips... lots of good pic's too.
rivergeek western river permits

Ladore, Yampa, Westwater, Dolores, Ruby/Horsethief all start in Colorado.
note: Dolores has a narrow window of good water flows and may not run at all in a drought year.
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