Uncompahgre River, Colorado, US
|Usual Difficulty||I-II(III) (for normal flows)|
|UNCOMPAHGRE RIVER AT COLONA, CO|
|usgs-09147500||400 - 2000 cfs||I-II(III)||01h06m||429 cfs (running)|
|Optimal flows: 500-1400 cfs. Flow information for this section corresponds to data from the 2013 Gunnison River Flow Study. usgs-09147500|
This is a mellow, scenic run that attracts local paddlers and outfitters. The river meanders between several private ranches and dotted with irrigation diversions, though the river is primarily tucked into willow and cottonwood forests. River Otter have been seen along this section, as well as deer, elk, and numerous bird species.
Below the put-in at Billy Creek State Wildlife Area, ther river enters into Centenial Ranch, a beautiful historic and operational cattle operation. There are a few rock gardens to negotiate, particularly at lower flows. A rock diversion creates a fun two foot drop at the upstream end of the ranch. The line is right of center.
Below Centennial Ranch, the river leaves the canyon and the valley opens up to views of Storm King and the Grand Mesa. There are several ranches in this reach, some with barb wire or bridges, so keep a watch. While not technical, the river does make a few sharp bends, and several strainers hang into the main current.
Once past Colona, the river becomes hidden from the road and ranches by heavy riparian vegetation. Look out for old iron from the railroad and old cars, sometimes lurking just below the surface, as these have been know to damage rafts. Downstream, paddlers reach a series of fun drops that have been created for fish habitat. While these add a little fun to the end of the run, they dont present a huge challenge to paddlers. At times, electric fences and barbwire have been reported extending into the river, though only to centerline, to mark private property.
Flows increase in the lowest reaches of this run as the South Canal's return flows join the river. The takeout is immediatly above a large diversion structure that takes these return flows back out of the river. The takeout is clearly above this diversion.