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westernCOboater
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ive been IK’ing on flat water in and around Grand Junction, CO but getting bored and looking for a bit more excitement—just don’t want to get in over my head. Gunny Gorge—what is the best water level for lower level intermediate skill. I whitewater raft and canoe too so not a total beginner.
 

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From the BLM website. I think it's underrating the run myself.



The Gunnison Gorge offers a technical and remote experience for rafters,kayakers and whitewater canoeists. Flows are dam controlled and verydependent on winter snowpack. Spring releases (late May-June) vary from2,000 to 6,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). Summer flows vary from 300 cfsto 2,000 + cfs. At flows below 800 cfs the Gorge is very technical and no trecommended for rafts over 12 feet in length. Flows over 5,000 cfs make the Gorge very dangerous for boating. Currents become very swift and swirly, eddies disappear, and swims are very long. Rescue is very difficult in the Gorge. If in doubt, SCOUT! See river map for locations and class of rapids.Private boater permits are not required, however, boater groups must payfees at the Chukar Trailhead and sign the register at the put-in. Groups maynot exceed 12 people. Overnight boaters must also register for designated boater campsites and may only spend one night at each camp. Porta-potties & stoves (or fire pans w/ charcoal) are required for camping. Maximum wilderness stay is two nights. Boaters traveling downstream through the Gorge from the National Park must have a Park backcountry permit and sign the register at the Chukar put-in. Each raft must carry an extra oar or paddle, adequate first aid kit, repair kit and an extra personal flotation device (PFD). All boaters should wear a U.S.Coast Guard approved Type III/IV life jacket


It's a mile plus carry into the put in, or you can hire a mule train to pack your gear in. This run really isn't for an intermediate boater, you come around a corner and find yourself in the wrong place, swift and decisive actions are needed in order not to flip / wrap or worse. At lower levels it's an epic rock dodge.. An IK in there would be quite a bit more excitement than most folks would want..



My 2¢, your mileage may vary..
 
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Oh, yeah, the roads to access Chukar last I was there were most definitely high clerance 4WD, and said to be impassable when wet.
 

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The gorge is a commitment. There's the hike down, rough road access, and long shuttle. Very near impossible egress/ingress when wet for sure. Nevertheless it's a spectacular and special place away from everything.

Definitely go with someone who has done it previously when you are ready. However I recommend that you test yourself on the Montrose town run. It was running good last week.
 

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The San Miguel is where you want to be. Non stop class 2 right next to the road lots of places to get in and out. However there is a state order to recreate within 10 miles of your home and not travel right now so.....
 

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Ive been IK’ing on flat water in and around Grand Junction, CO but getting bored and looking for a bit more excitement—just don’t want to get in over my head. Gunny Gorge—what is the best water level for lower level intermediate skill. I whitewater raft and canoe too so not a total beginner.

Base flow is ~330. Rarely gets lower than that (not in at least 8 or 9 years that I've seen) and is decidedly class II-III at that flow.

Up to about 700 is still very easy II+ to III+ read and run, with the exception of ~4 rapids near the end that could probably be called IV-. All scoutable, all portageable if desired.

Above 1000 some rapids start to develop stronger hydraulics and some of the last handful of rapids are pushing legitimate IV.

It's a great backyard run. I've hiked in and floated out more than 50 times in the last ~7 years, mostly because I was living in GJ and it's the closest thing to a 'backyard run'.

I've taken many raw beginners down the Gorge in packrafts at up to ~1000cfs, because the rapids are short and easy and always end in a long, slow pool where we can stuff them back in their boats if they fall out.

I almost never drove all the way down to the Chukar trailhead. There's a small side road ~4 miles up -- just before the road starts to drop more steeply -- where we always parked, and just walked in from there. From there it was one hour of hiking to the river, any 2wd car could make it that far, and you saved time overall by not needing to drive down (and back out) to retrieve your shuttle vehicle.

Once you get the hang of Chukar down, try going in via the Warner Route. Shorter but much steeper hike in, and a handful of bonus rapids in the added ~7 miles of river that you get to see. Also bigger walls up there, the better to make you feel insignificant.

Enjoy.
 

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It's a great run, but it's logistically tough as the others described. Probably easy in a ducky at current flows, but it certainly isn't a place to step it up from flat water in my opinion. While it may be in our "backyard," it is usually faster to make a day trip to the Ark Valley...
 

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westernCOboater
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What section of the Ark would folks recommend?

I scouted the Dolores and San Miguel last year during the high runoff (about this time of year) and it was a bit daunting. The Dolores at Gateway was 4,000 cfs and the boat ramp at 141 was unrecognizable. Water was way out of bank flooding everywhere. I spoke with the adventure staff at GC Resort and they said a group had put on the weekend before and it turned into a search and rescue mission with several people missing (but later found) in several different spots. We were going to raft Paradox Valley down to Gateway with a friend, both of us in 15-16’ boats, but after scouting the rapids decided to wait. We also scouted the San Miguel up at Naturita and down to the confluence with Dolores—still looked a bit too frisky for us in duckies at least.
 

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Which section of the Ark would you recommend?

I'd recommend putting in at Johnson Village and floating down the Milk Run, if you're feeling solid, then continue past Fisherman's bridge and into Browns Canyon, I'd take out at Hecla Junction, would make for a nice day. If you want something a little tamer than solid class 3, you could put in at Salida East, and float to Vallie Bridge, it's a little sporty, but nothing really hard at normal flows.
 

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Base flow is ~330. Rarely gets lower than that (not in at least 8 or 9 years that I've seen) and is decidedly class II-III at that flow.

Up to about 700 is still very easy II+ to III+ read and run, with the exception of ~4 rapids near the end that could probably be called IV-. All scoutable, all portageable if desired.

Above 1000 some rapids start to develop stronger hydraulics and some of the last handful of rapids are pushing legitimate IV.

It's a great backyard run. I've hiked in and floated out more than 50 times in the last ~7 years, mostly because I was living in GJ and it's the closest thing to a 'backyard run'.

I've taken many raw beginners down the Gorge in packrafts at up to ~1000cfs, because the rapids are short and easy and always end in a long, slow pool where we can stuff them back in their boats if they fall out.

I almost never drove all the way down to the Chukar trailhead. There's a small side road ~4 miles up -- just before the road starts to drop more steeply -- where we always parked, and just walked in from there. From there it was one hour of hiking to the river, any 2wd car could make it that far, and you saved time overall by not needing to drive down (and back out) to retrieve your shuttle vehicle.

Once you get the hang of Chukar down, try going in via the Warner Route. Shorter but much steeper hike in, and a handful of bonus rapids in the added ~7 miles of river that you get to see. Also bigger walls up there, the better to make you feel insignificant.

Enjoy.
Ooooh. Tell me more about the Warner Route! I am unfamiliar with it and have always just walked down Chukar.

How's the road in? The trail itself? Does it put you below all the Black Canyon gnar?

I don't see it on this map

https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/f...s_colorado_gunnison-gorge_NCA_brochure_HI.pdf

Thanks
 

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The Warner Route is a pretty tough hike for many people with no gear. I can't imagine it being worthwhile to take a hardshell boat down, but a packraft would be perfect.
 

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Ooooh. Tell me more about the Warner Route! I am unfamiliar with it and have always just walked down Chukar.

How's the road in? The trail itself? Does it put you below all the Black Canyon gnar?

I don't see it on this map

https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/f...s_colorado_gunnison-gorge_NCA_brochure_HI.pdf

Thanks

The road is paved 100%, as it's in the Black Canyon Nat'l Park.

Trail is steep, and if it hasn't rained in awhile it's loose. My recollection is that it drops 2700' in 2.7 miles.

I have one friend that did it with his creek boat. He's super fit and made it look easy, though I know it wasn't easy.

Yes, below all the gnar. There's one standout IV below the Warner Route put in, but it's easy to see, easy to scout, easy to walk around if so desired.
 
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