Low H20 can’t deflate rafting biz
In spite of a drought that could devastate crops and ignite a high-pressure fire season, this year’s local river-running season should be fine.
While some rivers will have shorter rafting seasons because of negligible runoff, the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs will still be a great experience for boaters, said Rock Gardens Rafting owner Kevin Schneider.
He said he’s been hearing around town that the rafting season will be nonexistent. But that’s not true, he said.
“Some hotels are telling tourists that there’s no rafting. That’s the farthest from the truth” he said. “We won’t have a big peak, but it will be a steady, constant flow.”
Unlike many other popular rafting rivers in the state, the flow of water in the stretch of the Colorado through Glenwood Springs is kept constant by the Shoshone power plant, which sits in the middle of Glenwood Canyon. It has the second oldest water right on the Colorado River, which keeps water flows constant.
“There is always 1,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) through Shoshone,” Schneider said.
The high-water thrills of boating Shoshone in early June probably because of low runoff. But that’s not what most people who book trips with Rock Gardens are after, he said.
“Most are families who are not looking for the whitewater rush,” he said.
Boating on the Roaring Fork River will be affected by low water. Schneider runs trips on the Roaring Fork during spring runoff, but flows fall below rafting levels by late June or early July.
“Then we go to Shoshone,” he said. “We don’t run Shoshone in high water, when it’s running over 6,000 cfs.”
This year the season on the Roaring Fork may be curtailed, he said.
“I think Glenwood Canyon can see a fine season. Maybe in May and June it will be a little lower water than normal. We’re very fortunate to have a power plant upriver that guarantees flow,” Schneider said.
According to a report on commercial rafting on the Colorado River compiled by the Colorado River Outfitters Association and published in 2001, the Colorado through Glenwood Springs is the second most popular rafting destination in the state.
In 2001, 63,712 people rafted the stretch with commercial outfitters, the report said.
Colorado draws the most customers for commercial whitewater rafting of any state in the country, CROA said.
The most popular rafting destination is the Arkansas River, which saw 252,213 rafters last year, the report said.
Schneider said his bookings for the upcoming season are already ahead of last year. In fact, low water may draw people from other rivers to the Colorado because of its dependability.
“We may get a lot of private boaters from rivers that are flow dependent,” such as the Blue River near Breckenridge and the Animas and Dolores rivers in southwest Colorado, he said.
Schneider already guided a raft full of boaters down the Colorado on April 1. He’s scheduled to take out a group of 70 on Sunday.
River season in Glenwood Springs usually runs from Memorial Day to late August, although if the weather is warm that could extend into September. One year Schneider took a girls basketball team on a float trip the Saturday after Thanksgiving. “Eighty percent of our business is between late June and late August,” he said.
won’t materialize this year
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