San Juan - 01. Pagosa to Trujillo Rd

San Juan, Colorado, US


01. Pagosa to Trujillo Rd (Mesa Canyon)

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 32 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-09342500 400 - 2500 cfs II-III 00h22m 98.9 cfs (too low)

River Description

Josh Stone reports:

Alright, I've only done this run about 4 times, so this is what I have to offer. First, let me say

this is probably one of the prettiest non-permited runs in Southern Colorado/Northern New Mexico

that offers "easy" whitewater. I wouldnt exactly call this a beginner run due to the fact that the

water is very, very cold and once you are in the canyon, trespassing signs restrict you from

getting out of the canyon. I have done this stretch from 900 cfs to 1800 cfs, and I find that the

more water the better. I would imagine that around 2500, things start to get a little flushy and


The put in for this stretch is at the malt shop (good ice cream!) after you cross over the

bridge that crosses the river on the left. Once you put in, you are on the man made course through

town. This course is pretty continuous II+ waves and holes which offer some play at good water

levels. If you dont feel like doing the whole run, take out at the bridge past the hot springs in

town (only about a 30-40 minute paddle). Past this bridge, the river meanders over some easy shoals

and you start to recognize some canyon walls shooting up as you leave civilization. Make sure you

take a look back at all the 13,000-14,000ft peaks popping up out of the Weminuche Wilderness. Soon


you will go through some man made U shaped ledges which offer some decent play... there are

something like 30 of them on this run. As the river bends to an extreme right, then cuts back left,


you will see a small bridge over the river. This is the biggest rapid on the run. It is a solid

class III at 1500 cfs. To run it, go from river right to left puching through the big wave/hole. If


you flip, roll quickly because the water takes you into one of the bridge pilons. Afterwards, there

is a lot of class two action as you take in some beautiful, remote scenery and the man made ledges.


About three miles down from the bridge rapid there is a great landing area that Alpine Cascade

company has allowed rafters/kayakers to stop for lunch on. Be respectful and pick up your trash so

that we can keep using it. After this lunch break, the action picks up and as soon as the river

bends to the right, you encounter the best set of class III waves on the whole river. They are

about 4-6 ft high and give rafters a great ride. The action continues for the next 4-5 miles with

more class II-III waves, man made ledges, and the occasional play spot. The scenery is still

unbeatable. When you begin to notice the gradient lessening and more cabins appearing, this

signifies that the take out is close by. You will go under one more bridge by a small cabin and go

over some shoals, then the takeout is on river right. To get to the takeout, drive down the road

that the commercial hot springs is on and after the community center where the road forks (yield

sign) take a right and cross over the bridge. Keep going straight on that road for a long time

(road turns to gravel). You will pass the trash dump, and eventually you will come to a parking

spot on the left with great access (look for other cars). Park here and shuttle, which takes about

45 minutes. For all you easterners, I say this run is about as hard as the Nantahala, but offers

more rapids that are bigger than quarry but not harder than the falls.


For camping I usually camp over at the Piedra campgrounds (20 minutes away) because they have free

hot springs. You can find campgrounds close by in the Weminuche Wilderness if you want to be

closer. Pagosa bar does have PBR on tap, but this town lacks a mirco brewery. The town of Pagosa

Springs itself is a beautiful eclectic place that signifies what a mountain town should be.


Josh  Stone             2004-08-26


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-06-16 05:39:24


Stream team editor

Rapid Descriptions

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