Animas - 08. 32nd St. Park to Purple Cliffs

Animas, Colorado, US


08. 32nd St. Park to Purple Cliffs

Usual Difficulty III (for normal flows)
Length 6.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 27 fpm

Smelter at 4,000 cfs

Smelter at 4,000 cfs
Photo of San Juan College instructor by Josh Stone taken May @ 4,000 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-09361500 1000 - 6000 cfs III 00h41m 129 cfs (too low)

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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-11 16:17:25


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Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 29 2018 (231 days ago)
dhouser (160007)
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.
June 14 2013 (2042 days ago)
Roman RyderDetails
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.

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