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The pictures in that new Rio Grande guidebook make the Ute Mountain stretch look quite pretty. Even the valley float above that looks nice if you catch it at the right time of year. Definitely would like to get in there this season.

Nice video. I like the way you documented the trip itself more than the rapids.
 

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Yep, classic. Three of us did the Razorblades through Lower Box run in an afternoon, two nights, and a quick morning... then went to hit Embudo that afternoon... and we were thinking that we should have kept floating state bridge and racecourse with a few beers instead.

The Razorblades put-in that we used kind of sucked with a heavily loaded 10ft boat. (Although totally awesome run and okay hike down with an empty kayak). Where did you put-in for the Ute Mountain section? Is it legal to put-in, and safe to leave a vehicle at the bridge off of CO Hwy 142? Or just more fun to put-in further downstream?
 

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You gents made a difficult run look easy. You had to have had a load on those boats, even without the beverages that were cached.

Comrade ship and group interaction is what makes trips like yours so much fun.

The mood of the video was perfect, mellow and laid back, close friends having a good time on a good river. Well done and just the way it should be.

All around good work doing and documenting.

Never done that upper section but the lower box down through the race course is one of my favorite runs, been there many times and never had a bad day. Running laps on the Race Course and eating BBQ afterwards at Sugar's ain't bad either.

Thanks for sharing your adventure.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
fun

We put in right around the Colorado-NM border. Found a dirt road leading out of Rio Costillo and it went right to the river. The gorge is only just beginning at that point so the rim to river bushwhack went quick..
I think a shuttle driver is best. leaving a car out there for a couple days is asking for trouble.
Also ran it from the Razorblades to the end of the Box as you guys did. That hike sucked with heavy boats.
The Border to the RC is a long trip but well worth the scenery and extra time spent on the rio...


Yep, classic. Three of us did the Razorblades through Lower Box run in an afternoon, two nights, and a quick morning... then went to hit Embudo that afternoon... and we were thinking that we should have kept floating state bridge and racecourse with a few beers instead.

The Razorblades put-in that we used kind of sucked with a heavily loaded 10ft boat. (Although totally awesome run and okay hike down with an empty kayak). Where did you put-in for the Ute Mountain section? Is it legal to put-in, and safe to leave a vehicle at the bridge off of CO Hwy 142? Or just more fun to put-in further downstream?
 

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Saw a presentation by the geologist who wrote the new Rio Grande guide book this fall and it got me all fired up to do the Ute Mountain run. There are some springs along that section that pump in an unbelievable volume of water.

Should be the perfect trip for our JPW Fat Cats.
 

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There are some springs along that section that pump in an unbelievable volume of water.
Yep, great to have spring water to drink! We camped across from springs on Razorblades, Upper Box has the arsenic springs, and we filled up with more spring water just above the lower box put-in bridge.
 

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"Permit" required on Ute Mtn run?

Thanks for the video- great! BLM info on Ute Mtn run says there's one launch per day and you must preregister by calling them. Can anyone comment on this? Experience that you have had?
Looking for last week of March to run this if flow/weather works out.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
yup

yup,
call them up and give them a launch date. Pack in pack out. Fire pan-groover system etc...
It is rarely boated so you should have no problem. That section is closed April-May due to birds nesting.
Pack light for the hike out unless your going all the way to the end. Have fun...Atom....


Thanks for the video- great! BLM info on Ute Mtn run says there's one launch per day and you must preregister by calling them. Can anyone comment on this? Experience that you have had?
Looking for last week of March to run this if flow/weather works out.
 

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Do you have any input on the Lasauses Cemetary access Atom? In the BLM's 13 year old "master plan" it said they were going to create an access there, and the new guide book mentions it as well....

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nm/field_offices/taos/taos_planning/docs.Par.80725.File.dat/rio_grande_plan_all.pdf

I put an email in to the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge to see if they allow boating through their lands. Seemed like it might be a cool multi-day to launch near Alamosa and float to the Lobatos Bridge, or all the way to the Lee Trail.....or farther.

This would create the option of floating all the way from Rio Grande Reservoir to the Bosque without encountering a dam.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Not sure about that putin. I bet a quick call to the Taos BLM would clear that up.
Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge would be awesome to boat through..


Do you have any input on the Lasauses Cemetary access Atom? In the BLM's 13 year old "master plan" it said they were going to create an access there, and the new guide book mentions it as well....

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nm/field_offices/taos/taos_planning/docs.Par.80725.File.dat/rio_grande_plan_all.pdf

I put an email in to the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge to see if they allow boating through their lands. Seemed like it might be a cool multi-day to launch near Alamosa and float to the Lobatos Bridge, or all the way to the Lee Trail.....or farther.

This would create the option of floating all the way from Rio Grande Reservoir to the Bosque without encountering a dam.
 

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This would create the option of floating all the way from Rio Grande Reservoir to the Bosque without encountering a dam.
I've schemed this idea as well. I think I'm the most terrified of the section from South Fork to Alamosa. So much irrigation, so flat, and I have a feeling most of the landowners wouldn't be all that impressed with our little plastic boats near there backyard.

In other words, I'm in.
 

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I've schemed this idea as well. I think I'm the most terrified of the section from South Fork to Alamosa. So much irrigation, so flat, and I have a feeling most of the landowners wouldn't be all that impressed with our little plastic boats near there backyard.

In other words, I'm in.
I know the section from South Fork to Del Norte gets floated by people who rent rafts in South Fork.... there is another National Wildlife Refuge between Monte Vista and Alamosa, I'm not sure about what's between Del Norte and Monte Vista.

I know the town of Del Norte has plans to install a rudimentary whitewater park with trails along the riverside, so I would think they would be open to the idea of people floating the river above and below town...
 

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I’ve paddled from Creede to Del Norte, a 5 mile stretch near Monte Vista, and from Alamosa to Lobatos Bridge. Above Del Norte is scenic and swift outside of South Fork’s encroachment. The first diversion dam is just above Del Norte and one of the higher ones I’ve seen in the SLV, 10’+. From Del Norte to Alamosa there’s a diversion dam every few miles and some provide whitewater. Bird watching is good and it’s a small State Wildlife Area between Monte Vista and Alamosa. In the Alamosa Refuge you’re in a cane corridor most of the way with limited views. I did a spring dawn paddle there and saw several Great Horned Owls perched near the river. At La Sauses, the carry-in is relativity easy except for getting poked by a yucca. You enter the San Luis Hills there which gives it a canyon feel and you get the added flow of the Conejos which is good since summer flows coming down from Alamosa are low. Past CO-142 you lose the hills on the east, but then drop into a short basalt canyon with a long class II rapid at its exit that’ll be bony below 500 CFS.
 

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Thanks for the info Bruce, good stuff.

Couple of questions:

Did you encounter any fences across the water?

Were most of the diversions portages? I know you said some of them created whitewater, I'm wondering if you have to portage more of them than you can run?

Is there any problems with portages? No trespassing signs, fences, etc?

Also wondering how long it took you to float from Alamosa to Lobatos and where you camped?

Thanks.
 

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I portage the dam above Del Norte which has a good trail on river right. There was a duck under and another washed out fence near Monte Vista. The dam in the SWA has a boatable chute. The dam below the US160 bridge in Alamosa has to be portaged due to a low foot bridge. From what I've seen most of the diversion dams in the valley are either boatable or short portages.

I've only done day trips in the SLV. River access for day runs is a problem since bridge crossings are posted as is typical in Colorado on private lands. From Alamosa to CR-Z was a good days paddle and so was La Sauses to Lobatos Bridge. The CR-Z access is good and campable. Where the shallow canyon ends below CO-142 looks like it'd be a campsite and it's vehicle accessible. The long class II might actually be the remains of an old dam.
 

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There's a couple larger diversion dams in the Plaza area between Del Norte and Monte Vista that could be problematic depending on flows. I know they are working on improving one from the tangle of concrete and rebar that's there now.
 

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Wanted to update anyone interested in access to the Rio Grande in Colorado. On our way down to run the Racecourse Sunday, Phil and I stopped to scout the access at the La Sauses cemetery.

The road is dirt, but passable for passenger cars all the way to the river.



At the river there was a fence with couple "gates" providing easy access to the water only about 30' away.



There were no signs showing this was public land or that it was a legal river access. At the same time, there were not any No Trespassing signs either. There was a decent amount of beer and party trash there, as well as cow patties. IMO the La Sauses cemetery is excellent access to the river, but an extremely questionable place to leave a vehicle unattended.



There was also legal river access at a bridge over the river 7 miles upstream at CR Z that didn't look too bad. No beer trash and it look like it might be possible to hide a vehicle under the bridge...

and at the CO 142 bridge as well. At 142 there was a small spur road that went south a short distance off the blacktop and down to the river. Looked as though it may be possible to leave a vehicle out of sight of the pavement.
 
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