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Difficulty III
Length 6.5 Miles
Gauge ANIMAS RIVER AT DURANGO, CO
Flow Range 1000 - 6000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 37 minutes ago 2890 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 07/11/2017 4:17 pm

River Description


Josh Stone shared:

Here is some local Beta, hope it helps. The putin at 32nd Street is for the long run.
Once past the bridge on 32nd Street, you will enter a Class-II rock garden. Pick a line and enjoy. Then, after the rock garden, you will continue to float some quick water until you come to where an island divides the river. Go right and there is a good spot for old-school stern squirts. Proceed around the bend and there is a good set of Class-II waves that will get your face wet.
Past this is a railroad bridge with a good rock garden. At 1600 and below, take the river-right side. I say this because on river left there is what looks like a big wave, but it is actually water pushing straight into a big rock.
Next up is the most dangerous part on the river IMHO. This is the Main St. Bridge. Water crashes into all the pillars, so the best line is to take it far river left and line up to blast off the eddy line coming off of the pillar.
After this, keep bombing down the run, and soon you will go past the 9th St. bridge and under some other bridge. Once you go past this bridge, the river will bend to the left. Be ready to hit some fun Class II+-III- swamper waves. At 4,000 cfs, these waves get to be about 6-9 ft high. Below 1000 cfs, this offers some good creek-boating practice.
Afterwards, the river bends to the right and you are now at the whitewater park. The first rapid is the biggest and gets some notoriety. It is Smelter Rapid, which is where almost all the water funnels into a big haystack followed by some boily water. This haystack will knock you over, so have a good roll because afterwards is more continuous whitewater. At 4,000 cfs, I consider Smelter a class IV (some may disagree).
After Smelter is a Class-II+ rapid followed by Corner Pocket, which is where all the locals play. Corner Pocket is a good wave with a forgiving foam pile that offers up blunts, loops, cartwheels etc. Over 2800 cfs, Corner Pocket is a class III playwave/hole. Have a good roll if you want to play, because the water afterwards will send you river right into a very trashy hole. Above 3,000 cfs I have seen lots of rafts flip in this hole and have seen some kayakers spending a lot of time getting trashed here.
After the playpark you go through some more Class-II waves and then you go under the 550 bridge. Stay river right and get some good play in class II+ Santa Rita hole. People say that there is some construction debris around this hole, but I have seen the river at 180 cfs and have yet to see any.
After Santa Rita are some fun Class II-II+ waves that at around 4,000 cfs get pretty big; the last wave, Big Kahuna (right at the Four Corners take-out), is fantastic at 1500 to 6000 cfs. Ride these waves, catch some play all the way down to the Four Corners Riversports take-out. The guys at Four Corners Riversports are awesome people, so go ask them for some local Beta.
If you wish an additional mile of paddling in Class-II water, you can take out at High Bridge (550/160 South near Wal-Mart). A new take-out will be ready soon an additional mile downstream, giving the paddler Class-II Pinball Rock Garden (under the new bridge behind Home Depot).

After you are off the river, head on over to Steamworks for some local brew. Go on Thursday nights, and it is $1 pint night. Carver's Brewery on Main St. has the Colorado Trail Nut Brown Ale, which I think is the best beer in Durango. There is free camping within 15 minutes up in San Juan National Forest or up in the La Plata Mtn. area. Do realize that as flows go up on this river, it takes on a big-water feel that edges Class IV due to lack of eddies etc.

The Animas River Task Force of the city of Durango is currently working on additional whitewater features. John Brennan of Durango is assisting in a river plan that will include up to 13 additional play features.

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

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Drew Houser
|
1 year ago

The Santa Rita Park rapids have been completely redesigned, to my liking. At low water the left chute may be the only navigable way through the first man-made constriction. At high water the center chute provides a conservative run through the next series of drops. The left chute at all levels provides a much better ride although mid-rapid maneuvers are required.

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Roman Ryder
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6 years ago

I was passing through town recently and ran from the 32nd street park to the whitewater park at 1100cfs. I definitely concur with the description on the two tricky bridges. When the river takes a hard right under the train bridge, I ran the river left line and it was the most technical part of the river with lots of holes and boulders. I also ran the middle line on the Main St. bridge and it was pretty hairy. Most of the water is going through this middle section and rolling off the left wall. The entire right side is moving to the left (reminded me a bit of the weird stuff you get at the bottom of Grand Canyon rapids) and where they meet is a nasty boil line that took my boat down. It would definitely be worth getting out scouting the left line to verify it's clear and running it. The rest of the run was pretty much a nice class I float, until things pick up at Smelter.

Gage Descriptions

Josh Stone shared: I think anywhere from 1300 cfs to 2200 cfs is good for a Class-III run.

Permits

NA

Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports

Alerts

News

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Final Slate River Floating Management Plan Released (CO)

5/16/2019
Kestrel Kunz

Crested Butte, CO - Increased user conflict on the Slate River has led to a Floating Management Plan that proposes a "voluntary no-float period" between March 15 and July 15 this season. Since our last news post in November, the Slate River Floating Management Plan has been updated and revised for the 2019 season. An open house will be held at The Depot in Crested Butte on Thursday, May 16 and it is critical that paddlers from the local community attend and engage in the conversation. (Photo courtesy of the Crested Butte Land Trust).

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Land and Water Conservation Fund Secures Access to Upper Colorado River

5/8/2019
Hattie Johnson

A bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was introduced last month by Colorado Senator Cory Gardener and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and cosponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennett. If passed the bill would provide $900M annually for projects protecting natural, cultural and historic resources. Existing funding from the LWCF recently enabled the transfer of two important river access points on the Upper Colorado River. The State Bridge and Two Bridges parcels were owned by Eagle County and had been improved - boat ramps, parking, restroom/changing facilities - by the Eagle County Open Space program with coordination and management support from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This land transfer will protect public access at these locations in perpetuity. 

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Dolores River (CO) 2019 Spill Forecast Update

5/2/2019
Hattie Johnson

Dolores Water Conservation District put out their most recent predictions on April 23rd. More can be found on their website. We are expecting an updated forecast on May 6th and will be meeting with them on May 9th to begin discussions on how the recreational boating releases can align with other ecological goals. American Whitewater has developed a wide range of guidelines on how a spill can meet both recreation goals and goals to improve aquatic species and riparian health.

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Help Protect Crested Butte Area Rivers and Creeks under Wild and Scenic Act

2/26/2019
Kestrel Kunz

The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) are conducting a Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Evaluation as part of the current Forest Plan Revision process. While the Forest Service is mandated to conduct an Eligibility Study as part of the Plan Revision process, this opportunity only happens every 15-20 years and we need to ensure that the Study is comprehensive and robust. We need YOU to share your love and knowledge of these rivers with the Forest Service! We've put together an easy-to-use tool for you to submit comments here. Please consider personalizing your comments and take the time to review the Forest Service's Story Map of the Eligibility Evaluation. 

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AW releases Saint Vrain and Lefthand Creek Recreational Flow Study - CO

12/14/2018
Nathan Fey

Longmont, Colorado - As part of a comprehensive Stream Management Plan for the St Vrain Creek Watershed, American Whitewater is collecting and compiling data on recreational uses, and identifying projects and strategies to improve stream health, recreation, and environmental conditions in the region. You can help with this extensive effort. Please participate in the Recreational Flow survey.

 

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Support Colorado River Access on Colorado Gives Day!

11/29/2018
Kestrel Kunz

Colorado Gives Day is on December 4 this year and is fast approaching! Go here to schedule your online donation to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. All donations made to American Whitewater on Colorado Gives Day (December 4) will be put towards our River Access Program in Colorado. American Whitewater works to improve river access and public safety throughout the state by working with landowners and managers, paddlers, law enforcement, and lawmakers to understand Colorado's river access laws and the ongoing threats to public safety. Thank you for your support!

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Voluntary River Closure Proposed On the Slate River (CO)

11/2/2018
Kestrel Kunz

Crested Butte CO - Alleged disruption to a Heron Rookery and concerned private landowners have led to a "Voluntary Closure" of the Slate River from the Gunsight Bridge to the Town of Crested Butte between March 15 and June 21 for the 2019 season. The Slate River between Oh Be Joyful Campground and Skyland Bridge, a 10.5 mile stretch, provides an incredibly scenic and unique flatwater paddling experience in the Gunnison Valley. The Voluntary clsoure is a product of the Slate River Floating Management Plan, created by a Working Group convened by the Town of Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust. The Working Group was created in direct response to pressure from the local community including conservationists and private landowners adjacent to the river, who are concerned that a recent increase in boating activity is disturbing a Heron Rookery that straddles the Slate River. 

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AW Comments on Colorado Nat'l Forest Wilderness Process

9/5/2018
Kestrel Kunz

Today, September 5, marked the close of the public review process for the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report. The Evaluation Phase is the second step of 4 different steps required in the assessment of lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). American Whitewater thoroughly reviewed the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report and submitted our comments to the Forest Service on September 4, 2018. Overall, we found that key paddling reaches throughout the GMUG area were greatly under-represented in the Polygon narratives and thus weren't acknowledged as contributing factors to the Polygon's respective Wilderness Ratings. We let the Forest Service know this, highlighting specific paddling reaches that should be added to each Polygon and which Polygons we believe should have a higher Wilderness Rating based on the high-quality recreation opportunities that each area has to offer. 

Please stay tuned as we continue to report on the GMUG Land Management Revision Process and in the meantime you can learn more about the GMUG here. (Photo of Josh King by Nick Spitzer)

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TAKE ACTION: Comment on the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Management Plan

11/1/2017
Kestrel Kunz

ARKANSAS RIVER, Colo. - The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is revising their Management Plan for the first time since 2001. The new Draft Plan was made publicly available in October and the AHRA is accepting public comments through November 10, 2017 (next week!). In order to design effective and productive comments, American Whitewater has thoroughly reviewed the Draft Plan, discussed the Plan with our local Affiliate Clubs, attended AHRA Public Open Houses, and reached out to key members of the local paddling community. To make it easy for you to SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS, American Whitewater staff have compiled our key concerns and comments for your review. 

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Colorado Honors the legacy of Matt Brown

10/30/2017
Nathan Fey

Gunnison, Colorado - Last Wednesday, Matt Brown - longtime river guide, adventurer, and pillar of the Gunnison Valley community- passed away tragically after an accident in Moab. Matt was so much to so many.  At the request of his family and friends, contributions in Matt's memory can be made to American Whitewater’s River Access work in Colorado.  Matt was a strong ally and advisor in our work to protect the public’s rights to float and fish in the State.  We miss him immensely.

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Comments needed on Upper Colorado River Recreation Area Management Plan

8/28/2017
Nathan Fey

Kremmling, Colorado - The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review and comment a set of preliminary alternatives for managing about 40 miles of the Upper Colorado River between Parshall and State Bridge - including Gore Canyon and Pumphouse. This is your chance to weigh in on whether there should be a day-use permit;  a camping permit with designated campsites in the popular stretch between Pumphouse and State Bridge; and expanding the developed Pumphouse Campground.

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Gore Fest 2017 is a few weeks away!

8/9/2017
Nathan Fey

Bond, Colorado - American Whitewater is presenting Gore Canyon Festival - August 25-27th 2017Online registration is open and there are events for everyone, so sign up today! 

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A Successful River Cleanup on the St. Vrain (Lyons, CO)

6/7/2017
Kestrel Kunz

On Sunday, nearly 50 people gathered on the banks of the St. Vrain River to pick up trash from the water and the shoreline. We started the day off with Hotbox Roasters coffee and donuts, and a few words about River Stewardship – the common cause that brought us all together. We found bedframes, rusty nails, lawn chairs, car doors, plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, fast food containers, and it doesn’t stop there. Our findings are likely a combination of leftover debris from the floods, illegal waste dumping along the river, and built up trash from years of careless passers-by. Thank you to all those that came out for the river cleanup! American Whitewater depends on our affiliate clubs, members, and dedicated volunteers in order to tackle our many River Stewardship projects.  

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Releases to Lower Dolores River certain in 2017.

2/17/2017
Nathan Fey

Cortez, Colorado - Last week, American Whitewater met with local water managers, fisheries biologists, an other interests in Dolores River water, to start negotiating releases from McPhee Dam - like we do every spring.  This year, things are looking very good for the Dolores...

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Upper Colorado River Access funded by Land & Water Conservation Fund - CO

2/6/2017
Nathan Fey

Dotsero, Colorado - A key river access point on the Upper Colorado river, once threatened with closure, has now been permanently protected through a partnership between BLM and Eagle County. 

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One more day to submit input on Colorado's Brown Canyon National Monument!

1/17/2017
Kestrel Kunz

There is only one more day left to share what you value most in the Browns Canyon National Monument planning area! The Bureau of Land Management, U.S Forest Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working together to develop a Coordinated Management Plan for Browns Canyon National Monument. In order to design a plan that most benefits citizens and visitors of Colorado, the agencies designed an Online Survey and Mapping Tool to understand how the public interacts with the Browns Canyon planning area and what aspects of the area are most important to the public.

 

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New Report on Impact to San Miguel River From Proposed Reservoirs

1/9/2017
Evan Stafford

Colorado - American Whitewater has released a new study on whitewater recreation in the San Miguel River Basin. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) requested that Montrose County consult with American Whitewater on recreational needs and future impacts for the San Miguel River. Montrose County acquired conditional water rights to the San Miguel River in hopes of building multiple new reservoirs on BLM land. American Whitewater worked with Montrose County’s agents to assess the impact its conditional storage proposals would have on existing recreational opportunities. 

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Proposed Asphalt and Gravel Mine threatens the Upper Colorado River

12/6/2016
Evan Stafford

A new proposal to allow the development of a 90- acre open pit mine in Eagle County at the gateway to the Colorado River has local river users asking questions. We encourage everyone to attend an Open House December 6 at 6 PM at the Gypsum Recreation Center, and to make your voices heard at the Town Council meeting where they will discuss the application on December 13 at 7 PM.

 

 
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Colorado Mine Accident closes Animas River

8/6/2015
Nathan Fey

Durango, Colorado - On Wednesday morning, 1Million gallons of contaminated mine drainage was accidentaly released into the Animas River watershed. A crew working to clean-up a mine outside of the town of Silverton, accidentaly released the plume forcing local officials to close the river to paddlers, pets and livestock, and other water users. The impact on fish and wildlife is not fully known at this time.

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Lyons Outdoor Games and Burning Can to Support AW

5/15/2013
Nathan Fey

Lyons, Colorado - For the second year in a row, Oskar Blues Brewery is hosting the Burning Can Festival at this year Lyons Outdoor Games.  Burning Can, which takes place under the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park and the St. Vrain River, is a celebration of good beer, served in a can.  This year, All money raised from Lyons Outdoor Games recycled cans will be donated to American Whitewater. See you there!

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AW launches Flow Study for Yampa River

3/3/2011
Nathan Fey

Colorado - American Whitewater is conducting a study of flow-recreation relationships for the Yampa Basin, and identifying specific metrics for use in the Watershed Flow Evaluation Tool. This study is intended to inform local, state, and federal planning efforts as to the full range and quality of recreational boating opportunities for the Wild and Scenic suitable Yampa River, as well as the Elk and White Rivers, and their tributaries. Your participation in the flow survey is requested.

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Dana Kopf

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Rob

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Kestrel Kunz

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190145 02/26/09 Dana Kopf n/a
1201356 05/30/12 Rob Remedy broken feature photo
1208010 07/11/17 Kestrel Kunz