7 Jun 2013, 1:15pm
Colorado Mountain Living Outdoor Adventures Telluride The Rockies The Southwest Utah:
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Take Me to the River Especially on a Rafting Adventure

Little Duckie You're So Fine

Little Duckie You’re So Fine (Note the Snow-Capped Peaks in the Distance)

The rivers are running hard and fast in Colorado and other parts of the West right now. As our snowpack melts, creeks and streams swell and massive quantities of water surge into rivers, splicing through red rock canyons and verdant riverbanks. Rivers such as the Gunnison and the Colorado render near barren lands fertile thanks to clever irrigation systems, many of which were created over a half century ago. Western states such as Utah, Nevada and California delight in and depend on Colorado’s winter snowfall. Indeed, the appetite for this pristine supply of water has become so great that by the time the mighty Colorado arrives in the Gulf of Mexico, it is nothing but a trickle.

Before this happens, however, our rivers provide fabulous recreation for river runners—from serious oarsmen to casual day trippers—all in search of a good time. Whether you’re looking for a jaw-dropping adventure over gnarly rapids or a casual float along a wide swath of still waters (often possible late summer), rafting on the river promises some of the best fun around. And you can bet that views from the water are often more glorious than those appreciated from land.

I try to get out on the river at least once a year, not much in comparison to many people that head out on week-long river trips as soon as ski season ends. But for some, a river rafting expedition represents a once-in-a-lifetime occurence. Either way, river trip memories rank as some of the best.

Group Travel:  Colorado River Style

Group Travel: Colorado River Style

Moab, Utah offers fantastic river rafting, largely because here the Colorado wends its way through a backdrop of red rock vistas immortalized by some of the world’s most famous western movies. I first experienced river rafting in Moab (with put-in at Fisher Towers) over a dozen years ago when I did a big Western tour. It was in October, so the waters gently lulled my little rubber kayak down the stream. A year ago I embarked upon a similar half day trip along this stretch of the Colorado with Red River Adventures, an excursion that offered even more of a thrill since the river was full and fresh with the spring snowmelt. It was not a big snow year but fortunately just impressive enough to keep the challenge up for Steve, my thrill-seeking boyfriend. (This year’s flow should also be low to moderate based on our snowpack.)

I suggested the tour and he said, “Only if we can have our own boats.” That sounded a little intimidating to me since I do like being guided around. “No, we need our own duckies,” he insisted. “One for each of us.” I took a deep breath as we were fitted into our PFDs (personal flotation devices) and given explanations of the rules of the river by the guides. We waved goodbye to one boatload of visitors from Red River Adventures and slipped in in front of another.

“Being sandwiched in between these two boats is somewhat reassuring,” I shouted to Steve, who was already waving his paddle at me to get going.

The adventure alternated between a raucous ride and a gentle cruise, offering just enough variation (and a little fear) to keep us both extremely engaged. Thankfully we didn’t need to call upon our fellow guides as we happily enjoyed the experience together—or at least sort of since we were in separate duckies. The panoramas give the word breathtaking new meaning. We ended our journey with a heavenly albeit chilly dip in the Colorado (at take-out) where we admired our dramatic surroundings from an even more exceptional perspective. I wondered when those cool waters were last snow and silently expressed gratitude for being blessed with such a tremendous source.

I pondered the fact that the water that I hear rushing down the mountain outside my windows in spring might very well find their way into this expansive river. Long live the Colorado and all other life-giving rivers and streams. And may we always remember to experience them in a respectful manner.

Moab, Utah, a popular destination for Coloradans, is only two and a half hours from Telluride and just under four hours from Aspen and Vail.

For more on Moab, check out the following stories: On the Trail of Western Movie-Making in Utah and Colorado and Sweet Sorrel:  A Wonderful Destination Resort in Moab.

Read Bootdoctors Offers Further Adventures to find out about river adventures near Telluride.

Read my series of stories about rafting on the Gunnison River at Rafting and Roughing It on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison:  Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.



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