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We have a permit to put our duckies on the Rio Chama, El Vado - Big Eddy, in early August. Have never done this river before, but have done the Pumphouse and San Juan. Is this Class II or III rapids? Water level should be about 500. Anything scary (I'm sort of a chicken)? Thanks for any info.
 

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Class III-

The rapids are class III-, similar to the San Juan. There is one rapid in the wilderness section that is class III-, it's called Aragon and is easy to scout or portage if you don't like it, but it's not really difficult.

The daily section below the monastery has several class III- rapids, you get some good waves, but the river is pretty mellow. If you are worried you can shuttle to Chavez Canyon instead of Big Eddie and skip that whole section, but I find the Chama to be very mellow and a good place to have fun and learn on easy class III's with minor consequences.

Have a great time - that is a wonderful stretch of river!!
 

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RC is used as an intro training river for a least one guide school. If you've done Needle Eye and Government, Aragon will be a read and run. I've seen tandem canoes successfully run it backward (not on purpose). The lower section rapids are mostly bouncy-bouncy. Biggest problem will be getting stuck on things, plus Sunday takeout at Big Eddy is a zoo. The upper canyon is amazingly green because it seems to draw a fair amount of rain, so some form of kitchen tarp is a good idea.
 

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Back in my mind I think there is a rapid with small waves on a curve, not big waves. It's kind of blind going around the bend, so rookies might be a bit nervous about going into what they can't yet see.
 
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