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Newbie: First Time Float Suggestions- Colorado

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I just bought my first raft and am looking for suggestions on good first-time floats to break in my new setup. For context, it's a 16 ft Aire cataraft with a three-bay DRE frame, which I want to use for multi-day floats and fly fishing. I am living in the Denver area and was thinking about starting out on the upper Colorado for my first float this weekend but I am open to all suggestions. I was thinking maybe Rancho Del Rio to State bridge? I'm planning on bringing a couple people with and would love to have them fish a little along the way. If anyone has suggestions on good threads and/or must-have books for newbies, specifically anything relevant to Colorado, I would appreciate the feedback. If anyone is looking to meet up and help shorten the learning curve hit me up, I'll bring you some beers!

Cheers,

Cody
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Not a lot of < class III in CO, but here's a few.

You mention the upper C, you can do pumphouse all the way to state bridge, watch out for Rodeo rapid. There's always Ruby Horsethief, which should actually be Horsethief Ruby as you hit Horsethief first, save the circus at Loma and camp the first night at James L Robb state park in Fruita, launch there and take out at Westwater ranger station. Getting an early start is key, and you don't need a permit for a day trip, only to camp.

The Arkansas has some stretches, Johnson Village to Ruby Mountain, Big Bend to Salida east, watch for the low head dam just upstream from Salida, Salida east to Rincon or Vallie Bridge, Vallie Bridge to Texas Creek, if you want to venture into UT a little bit you can do a multi day from Cisco to Potash which encompasses the Moab Daily, another day trip. One bonus to running the Ark is the voluntary flow program that pretty much ensures you'll have at least 750 CFS from May to August. I might mention that the Ark is a gold medal fishery, and the section from Salida to Vallie Bridge is managed primarily for fishing, both walk and wade and raft based.

There's Dominguez canyon on the Gunnison, a beautiful float, but make sure you have enough folks to carry your boat up from the gnarly take out.

That should get you started.
 

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I just bought my first raft and am looking for suggestions on good first-time floats to break in my new setup. For context, it's a 16 ft Aire cataraft with a three-bay DRE frame, which I want to use for multi-day floats and fly fishing. I am living in the Denver area and was thinking about starting out on the upper Colorado for my first float this weekend but I am open to all suggestions. I was thinking maybe Rancho Del Rio to State bridge? I'm planning on bringing a couple people with and would love to have them fish a little along the way. If anyone has suggestions on good threads and/or must-have books for newbies, specifically anything relevant to Colorado, I would appreciate the feedback. If anyone is looking to meet up and help shorten the learning curve hit me up, I'll bring you some beers!

Cheers,

Cody
Rancho to state was my first float. We did fine. State to Two bridges might be half a step up. Two bridges to Catamount is flat water, bit longer near 10 mi. Also down by dotsero - Cottonwood to dotsero is all flatish water too. West of glenwood has good class 2s - no real rapids just sizeable wave trains depending on flows. There's a couple months worth of sub class III floats. Wear a pfd.
 

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The upper C is a great place to start off your learning experience. Personally I would suggest Rancho to Two Bridges. Rancho to State Bridge is only about an hour or so of floating. Two Bridges will add a couple more hours to your trip with easy rapids the whole way.
 

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I would add.....
Be considerate of other boaters, especially at boat ramps
Be prepared for cold weather, extra warm layers (it is only May 11)
Enjoy your new rig!
 
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Two other easy runs to consider, especially for fishing, are the Roaring Fork (Carbondale to Two Rivers) and the Colorado (Grizzly to Two Rivers). Both of these are near Glenwood Springs.

This section of the Roaring Fork has one rapid of note, Cemetery, which has a few rocks and waves at low flows, but is straightforward. Flow is ~700cfs right now, which is low but manageable for your rig, and the fishing should be decent since runoff hasn't started. There are good ramps at both ends.

The Grizzly section of the Colorado is very easy and will give you some time on the sticks in a beautiful canyon, albeit roadside. The boat carry at the Grizzly put-in ramp will be a bit of effort with a 16' cat, but fine with 2-3 folks.

Both of these are half-day floats that are easily stretched into full-day floats with a leisurely pace and fishing stops. You can set up a shuttle with Dee Harcourt (970-948-3223) if needed.

Stay safe and warm and enjoy your maiden voyage, wherever it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, everyone! I really appreciate all of the suggestions and feedback. I have a good list of floats to get me started and get a game plan set for this weekend. Stoked to get out there and start learning. Maybe I'll see some of you guys out there this season! Would love to get some connections for future floats. I'll post some pictures after this weekend and let everyone know what float I ended up choosing.
 
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