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So, we got bumped from the Chama this weekend because of low flows. Trying to think of another option. We did the Gunnison outside of Fruita ? about 8 years ago. Wondered if anyone had done it recently. I remember camping at a nice camp with a waterfall and good hikes, which I think was Dominguez Canyon.
From what I see on the internet- the put in and take out are somewhat challenging? I don't remember that, but, again, it was 8 years ago. Anyway, wondered if anyone had any advice about that river or any other ideas of somewhere we could get on the water this weekend w/o a permit.
Thanks!!
 

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Edd Franz, BLM Montrose
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So, we got bumped from the Chama this weekend because of low flows. Trying to think of another option. We did the Gunnison outside of Fruita ? about 8 years ago. Wondered if anyone had done it recently. I remember camping at a nice camp with a waterfall and good hikes, which I think was Dominguez Canyon.
From what I see on the internet- the put in and take out are somewhat challenging? I don't remember that, but, again, it was 8 years ago. Anyway, wondered if anyone had any advice about that river or any other ideas of somewhere we could get on the water this weekend w/o a permit.
Thanks!!
This section of the Lower Gunnison goes through Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area, managed by BLM. The put-in at Esclante is so-so -- fairly steep and tight with almost no eddy -- but it works. The takeouts at Bridgeport and Whitewater are poor. At Bridgeport you have to carry boats and gear under a low railroad trestle in a shallow wash. At whitewater there is only room for one boat at a time at the takeout, so you need to really space out your boats. It's also a long carry back to the parking area. There have been problems with vehicle break-ins at Whitewater in the past. There is a commercial shuttle service (Gunnison River Expeditions) available, where they keep your vehicle in their private lot. The campsite at the mouth of Dominguez Canyon is quite nice and very popular. There is a waterfall there. If you find yourself there on a busy weekend there may be 75 or so people camping there.
 

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alternate put-in at Confluence park

When we did that trip, we would extend it a day and put in at the Confluence park in Delta. Nice big boat ramp there

Take-out in whitewater was a minor pain but not the worst I've seen...

LR
 

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Did that trip this past weekend. We put in at Delta and took out at Bridgeport instead of the usual Escalante to Whitewater which was nice for a change. Delta/Confluence Park is definitely nicer than Escalante. Awesome campsite 10 miles down (according to the GPS) on river right, five miles above Escalante. Next day down to Dominguez, and there was only one other foursome camping there. There is a great waterfall up the canyon if you want to do a day hike.
 

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Misspellingintothefuture!
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Did some scouting of river access this past week, sighns at whitewater recomended using hwy 141 bridge access instead, due to break ins. We checked that out and it looked to be about same dificulty, maybe shorter cary. It is about a mile down stream of whitewater access and on river left @ upstream side of hwy bridge. There is a decent sized parking area allong hwy, and you could put maybe 3 rafts there. Sandy steap beach followed by steep cary, would not be so bad for a lightly rigged trip with small boats though.
 

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Plunk your magic twanger!
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I used the 141rd. bridge access last year and it we were able to park five rafts at 10,000 cfs. When we checked it out before launching it was at 7500 cfs and there was a lot more "beach" under the bridge to land on. Something to keep in mind as runoff begins. Regardless, it was better than the Whitewater ramp in my opinion.
 

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If you have 2 nights consider starting at Pleasure Park up river from Delta and floating to Whitewater or to Bridgeport. There are a few minor petroglyphs part way down from PP on river right. Much better ones up Big Dominguez Canynon just past the waterfall. Several ones are off to the right up on the cliffs. The waterfall is a few mile hike and is off the trail on your left, not marked but you should be able to hear it. I am out of town this weekend or I would run shuttle for you.
 

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Dominguez Canyon is a special place. The lower Gunnison is a mediocre trip. The canyon is definitely the highlight and I would encourage a layover day. I backpacked in Easter weekend solo and didn't see but a handful of people. A truly spiritual experience.

 

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I agree with Imyers in that the Gunnison below Delta is average. I just looked at flows and the the north fork of the gunnison is over 1000. Unsure what rigs you float but you would be good with 13 and below or a lightly packed 14. Much more fun trip with a nice wave train just above Hotchkiss. Good ramp in Paonia to put in and you can float to Pleasure park where there is a BLM launch site right at the confluence. PP has basic cabins you can rent and a bar. Or you could float another hour to Cottonwood campground that has covered tables and outhouse, no reservations and folks from town drive out there to camp. The north fork is a fun class 2 float, private property on all sides till you get down near pleasure park so often trees in river that don't get moved except by nature. There is a pretty little "canyon" near the end of the float. If you did this you would need another solid day to get to Dominguez and it is a cool place especially early in am or sunset. PM if you have any questions about the float, hike or area.
 

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Pieter Porcupine
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Gunny North Fork

What do you think the min level is needed for the Gunny North fork from Paonia to Pleasure Park? Any good hikes or non-private land for lunch?

Thanks!


I agree with Imyers in that the Gunnison below Delta is average. I just looked at flows and the the north fork of the gunnison is over 1000. Unsure what rigs you float but you would be good with 13 and below or a lightly packed 14. Much more fun trip with a nice wave train just above Hotchkiss. Good ramp in Paonia to put in and you can float to Pleasure park where there is a BLM launch site right at the confluence. PP has basic cabins you can rent and a bar. Or you could float another hour to Cottonwood campground that has covered tables and outhouse, no reservations and folks from town drive out there to camp. The north fork is a fun class 2 float, private property on all sides till you get down near pleasure park so often trees in river that don't get moved except by nature. There is a pretty little "canyon" near the end of the float. If you did this you would need another solid day to get to Dominguez and it is a cool place especially early in am or sunset. PM if you have any questions about the float, hike or area.
 

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Edd Franz, BLM Montrose
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If you have 2 nights consider starting at Pleasure Park up river from Delta and floating to Whitewater or to Bridgeport. There are a few minor petroglyphs part way down from PP on river right. Much better ones up Big Dominguez Canynon just past the waterfall. Several ones are off to the right up on the cliffs. The waterfall is a few mile hike and is off the trail on your left, not marked but you should be able to hear it. I am out of town this weekend or I would run shuttle for you.
There's a BLM campsite on river right about a day's float from Pleasure Park. After you pass under the Hwy 65 bridge (highway to Cedaredge), it's about a 1/2 mile down on the right. Last time I was there it had a fiberglass post marking it as a "campsite." The post is above the highwater mark, so you have to keep your eyes up a bit. Other than this short piece of BLM, pretty much everything between the Austin bridge and Delta is private, so this is the only public camping opportunity in that section.

A short float below the BLM camp you will encounter the Hartland Dam. It used to be a deadly feature, but a few years ago a boat/fish passage was constructed on river left. The boat passage is in the middle channel on river left. It's kind of a sporty drop -- Class II/III depending on flows.
 

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My 13 ft needs above 950 but a guy told me his 13 ft cat needs 1300. Bet you could do mini me or max at around 700. Depends on how much beer you need! Cool and raining here so expect flows to rise a bit. There is a put in/take out at Hotchkiss just north of the fairgrounds. It is on your right just after you float under the hwy 92 bridge. There is a railroad overpass a bit before that. The city has large boulders blocking you from backing trailers all the way to the river so means extra work to put in or take out here. But you could stop and eat. You could hike across the highway to Zach's BBQ for lunch but no other hiking opportunities until you get to confluence with the Gunnison. The Hotchkiss fish hatchery is down stream a bit and I know there used to be self guided tours there. On google earth the hatchery has a white fabric roof that is partially torn off, located just south of small town of Lazear. You might find a bank to tie off to but would call them first.
 
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