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Hello!

I'm planning on heading to CO (from the SE) to boat June 15th, and the snow pack is looking solid this year. What should the levels be like around Buena Vista / Crested Butte mid June? Any predictions?

I ran OBJ last year on the low side and would like to get all of the runs in CB (multiple times perhaps) but looking for medium flows. Is June 15th probably too early this year? Will everything be really high? Should we push the date back some?

Thanks!
 

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Thats typical high water. And its gonna be a big year. Medium flows early julyish. At least for the Arkansas. Best guess at this point.
Do you think that will be accurate for CB runs like OBJ, Daisy, etc too? I'd be happy to run the AR high but prefer medium in CB ;-)
 

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If you got the time to spend out hear, you could always just plan to head straight to the Ark, and enjoy some high water goodness while you wait for CB stuff to drop to a good level. No idea on stuff down by CB, but I’m guessing Ark will go on a normallish schedule, and even if CB were to high, gonna be a crap ton of good boating all over Colorado this spring, if your not set on OBJ and such.
Have fun whatever you go with, and if you are looking for a boating buddy on the Ark and don’t mind a rafter, hit me up.:D
 

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You could pull up some graphs from similar snowpack years, if you want to be analytical, but just based on experience, I'd say it's too hard to predict. It depends too much on weather patterns. A storm could roll in, cool things off and tamp things down for several days, or we get sunny and 90 degrees and everything will crank. High alpine creeks like in CB have a fairly large diurnal swing. OBJ is usually the main concern for high water so you can aim for the trough mid morning or so if it's getting too high.

Mid-late June is usually when things peak. I think that's the optimal time to be in the state even if it means you miss something on your hit list because it's too high. Something good will be in, which is a much better problem than everything being too low. Kayaking is all about flexibility afterall. Frankly I'd rather run the Ark at 4k than go kayak sledding down CB creeks anyway, but everybody's got their favorites - I mean, falling off waterfalls and slides is pretty damn fun too.
 

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Have fun whatever you go with, and if you are looking for a boating buddy on the Ark and don’t mind a rafter, hit me up.:D
Hell yeah. Of course I don't mind a rafter :) We would love to have some company. Would like to run Pine Creek this year. Hit Clear Creek of the Ark, Numbers, and Fractions last year (and Numbers/Fractions the year before at a much healthier flow). I had planned on starting in Buena Vista! Loved it there.
 

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You could pull up some graphs from similar snowpack years, if you want to be analytical, but just based on experience, I'd say it's too hard to predict. It depends too much on weather patterns. A storm could roll in, cool things off and tamp things down for several days, or we get sunny and 90 degrees and everything will crank. High alpine creeks like in CB have a fairly large diurnal swing. OBJ is usually the main concern for high water so you can aim for the trough mid morning or so if it's getting too high.

Mid-late June is usually when things peak. I think that's the optimal time to be in the state even if it means you miss something on your hit list because it's too high. Something good will be in, which is a much better problem than everything being too low. Kayaking is all about flexibility afterall. Frankly I'd rather run the Ark at 4k than go kayak sledding down CB creeks anyway, but everybody's got their favorites - I mean, falling off waterfalls and slides is pretty damn fun too.
Sounds like our planned time is solid then :) Could try to time OBJ for medium flows and get all kinds of other cool stuff. What would you suggest running? I've ran a lot of the Ark, Castle Creek, Slaughterhouse, and Taylor the past few years. Happy to run them all again but would like to see some new stuff. Bailey's looks like it's a lot of fun.

And I've not ran the Numbers at 4k but hit at at 2300 and it was pretty damn fun. Still probably preferred OBJ though :)

Thanks for your reply BTW!
 

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Sounds like our planned time is solid then :) Could try to time OBJ for medium flows and get all kinds of other cool stuff. What would you suggest running? I've ran a lot of the Ark, Castle Creek, Slaughterhouse, and Taylor the past few years. Happy to run them all again but would like to see some new stuff. Bailey's looks like it's a lot of fun.

And I've not ran the Numbers at 4k but hit at at 2300 and it was pretty damn fun. Still probably preferred OBJ though :)

Thanks for your reply BTW!
If you are willing to drive a little bit look at the Upper Animas and its headwaters, Poudre, Eagle, and Roaring Fork valley.

Bailey is a weird one as it is normally dependent on releases from Denver water, but it prolly will go on natural snowpack this year.
 

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And now for an alternative POV. I live in the mountains and there is more snow than I've seen in 20 years. In addition, so far, we have not had the dust storms that accelerate the melt. If we have a cool wet spring (as is forecast) I think middle of June is going to be scary big on anything with a major uncontrolled contribution. If it was me, based on what I see, I'd plan July 1
 

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And now for an alternative POV. I live in the mountains and there is more snow than I've seen in 20 years. In addition, so far, we have not had the dust storms that accelerate the melt. If we have a cool wet spring (as is forecast) I think middle of June is going to be scary big on anything with a major uncontrolled contribution. If it was me, based on what I see, I'd plan July 1
I keep hearing about how much snow there is, so was thinking this might be the case! Might need to alter the plan. How do you think flows might look through July? Good water through mid July perhaps?

Thanks!
 

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I would say take the same approach as you would if you were headed to Kyrgistan, Chile, Russia, or elsewhere. Do your homework, check historical data, look at graphs, and make a plan. Once you get there, just like in the old days before the internet and all this babysitting, just get on the river and figure it out.

A true adventure lies in the unknown...
 

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The other posters have some great points. There is going to be a lot of good options in June and some of the best trips are those that with forced adaptations. Having said that your driving a long way for a specific purpose and no reason not to plan ahead as best you can (that's half the fun right?). As of yesterday the Colorado River Basin snowpack was 130% of normal. The Ark is 140%. Lots of variables between now and then, including a significant groundwater and reservoir recharge components but I don't see how it is not going to be HUGE this year. I think a lot of the reservoirs are going to spill in June which will add to the total. To answer your question, yes I think Late June to middle July will be prime boating season this year
 

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It's going to be huge this year, the question is when. The long-term forecast is for wetter and hotter than average. xxx buddy. If it were me, I'd target late June. It's likely to be huge then. Some big years peak in early July, but on some big years peak has come and gone by then. I recall something about the mid '80's where it got warm and wet (rain) in early spring which burned the snowpack, but resulted in temporarily silly-high boating.

Here's some tools:
https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/co/snow/products/?cid=nrcseprd1432263 Geek out on historical big snow years. From what I recall, 2008, 2011 and 2015 were some of the biggest recently. Peak flows generally occur just as SWE drops to zero.

https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/forecasts/ Climate predictions. These are more right than my best guess, but I am not a NOAA scientist.

Web CDSS Streamflow Historical flows. This site is a bitch to navigate, but if you know the gage you want, you can pull up nice daily cfs summaries.

If this year ends up being as good as it looks, much of the Crested Butte stuff will be snowed in or stupid high in late June. However, that means that the Ark will be at a super fun high level, Clear Creek of the Ark will be huge, Clear Creek of the front range will have boaters passing cars on I-70, Boulder Creek and all the Poudre stuff will be absurdly high/fun. Castle Creek and Slaugherhouse of the Roaring Fork will be in the high-fun-zone. Did I say the Ark? Because, although I'm a lame boater, I can't think of anything more fun than 3k+ on Numbers and 6k+ in Browns.
 
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