Tag Archives: Colorado

Float #13-17: Colorado River

8 Aug

Grizzly Creek Rest Area to Two Rivers Park

Colorado River
Garfield County, Colorado
Sunday, July 17 – Thursday July 21
6 Miles

The other floats we did in Colorado were all the same 6 mile stretch of the Colorado river (See the previous post before you read this one). This float was really convenient for the raft owners to shuttle everyone to the put-in and the take-out was walking distance from the campground. Our friends from Colorado Springs owned 4 of the rafts and they set up a trip every day so many people from the NSS camp could get a chance to raft for free. DW played river guide for 3 of the trips and I split my time between paddling and riding the oar raft.

colorado river rafting

The put-in at Grizzly Creek

rafting colorado river glenwood canyon

DW plays river guide

The first day we went out with Brianna and her crew. The Colorado has been running really high this year due to all the heavy snowmelt. The river continued to drop the whole week we were there, so every day we went out was a little different. The first day all the obstacles were underwater, but the waves were pretty big. DW and I took The Pickle the first day. It was really difficult to steer because we have very uneven paddling strength. Every time DW would paddle the boat would spin toward him and my paddling was not enough to counteract his. We both got very wet and I almost swam twice! A third of the way down the river we finally figured it out and the rest of the trip was a lot of fun. Everyone else who took The Pickle the rest of the week had three people and it balanced out much better.

The following day the Colorado Springs crew went out with a large group of people. DW guided his own boat of adventurous paddlers. He has never guided a raft before, but since he knows how to read water and we had done it the day before, that was apparently adequate experience. Right out of the put-in his raft hit a hard eddy line and he and 2 others promptly fell out. They all got back in the raft and the rest of the trip went smoothly, although DW was teased about it the rest of the week. I helped paddle another raft that was overloaded with people. The water was still pretty high so it was a bit nerve-wracking hoping we didn’t hit a wave wrong and flip the boat. We all made it through and had fun.

The third day we went out the water had gone down quite a bit, resulting in smaller waves and a few rocks poking their heads above water. I planned to paddle in one of the rafts, but there were a bunch of new people who really wanted to paddle, so I gave up my spot and rode in an oar raft instead. DW guided a raft again. This time everyone stayed in the boat, but his crew did not listen very well or paddle very hard so he had to do most of the work!

Colorado river from Two Rivers Park

Along this stretch of river there are numerous hot springs that boil up into the water. On a typical July float guides will stop their boats and hang out, but the water was so high during this week all the springs were underwater. The final day we went out with Brianna’s husband Jamie in their oar raft. The water was getting pretty calm and there were no big Class III waves left, but the fallen logs and rocks were making a definite appearance. Even though we did the same stretch over and over, every day was different and we had great fun.

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Float #12: Roaring Fork River

5 Aug

Hwy. 133 Bridge to Two Rivers Park

roaring fork river map

Roaring Fork River
Garfield County, Colorado
Sunday, July 17
13 Miles

DW and I spent a glorious 7 days in Glenwood Springs, CO at the National Speleological Society convention (a national group of cavers, for those who don’t know). We don’t go caving all that often, but we really enjoy attending their events as it’s always a fun crowd of outdoor enthusiasts. We have friends in Colorado who frequently go rafting and we met up with plenty of others at the convention who brought their own boats. There are two rivers in Glenwood, the Colorado and the Roaring Fork. Both were running high from heavy snowmelt in the mountains, making for excellent rafting. The Roaring Fork starts in the mountains near Aspen and flows into the Colorado at Glenwood Springs. It’s very popular with fly fishers as well as rafters. The upper sections have some big Class IV & V rapids. The section we did was mostly Class II & III. We did a late afternoon float with our new friends Brianna & Jamie and their 8-year-old son Ben, and a couple of cavers from Alberta, Canada. I went in “The Tulip”, Brianna’s 14′ oar raft with Jamie and Ben and DW and the couple from Canada took “The Pickle”, a small 10′ raft.

roaring fork river hwy 82

Preparing the Tulip for launch

As we drove to the put-in the rain started to come down pretty heavy. Unlike Missouri, Colorado thunderstorms rarely last more than an hour and by the time we hit the water the sky had cleared. The air had cooled off significantly and the combination of cool air and cold water prompted me to put on some rain gear to keep from getting too cold.

roaring fork river

DW pilots The Pickle

mt. sopris, roaring fork river

Mount Sopris

The first part of the trip wound through a picturesque valley. Mount Sopris stayed in our background for a number of miles. Being close to Aspen there were many multi-million dollar homes along the riverbanks. We all agreed that many of them were ridiculously large, but the location was supreme. We didn’t hit may big rapids the first half, the water was somewhat calm, but moving very fast.

roaring fork river

Pickle action

roaring fork river

Red mountains near Glenwood Springs

roaring fork river

We didn’t see many other rafters out as it was late in the day for commercial trips. We did see lots of fly fishers, both along the bank and in oar rafts. I have never seen anyone fly fish from a raft on such swift water. Their flies barely touched the water for a second at a time as they swept by. We didn’t see anyone catch anything on this trip. However we did see a fisherman pull a 5 lb. trout out of the water at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado later in the week. It made me wish we’d brought our fishing gear!

roaring fork river

roaring fork river

The Pickle heads for the rapids

As we got closer to Glenwood Springs, the houses became smaller and more frequent. The Roaring Fork runs right next to town. During the last third of the trip we hit the big Class III rapids of this section, known as the Cemetery. The water was up pretty high so most of the obstacles were underwater, but the waves were big. DW and the Pickle had a lot of fun hitting every wave they could. Being such a short boat, it is very maneuverable. It is really hard to get photos during a big rapid section, as you have to pay attention to the water and the boat and keep your balance at the same time. The camera lens also gets full of water spots and I don’t have anything dry to wipe it with.

roaring fork river

My dream cabin

We took out at Two Rivers Park on the Colorado river, just down from the confluence. By the time we got back to camp it was 7:30 and time to knock back a few and cook dinner. The rest of the week we floated on the Colorado, which was equally as fun but not quite as pristine as the Roaring Fork.

Critter Count: 1 Osprey