Drought/runoff news: Rafting companies can do OK in low water years #CODrought


From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Jon Mitchell):

“Our best years have been the hot years,” said 52-year-old Kevin Schneider, president and owner of Glenwood Resorts. “We’re really a family business, and moms aren’t interested in taking their kids out on the water when it’s really high and rough.”

That was definitely the case a year ago, when a massive late-season snowmelt caused high, rough waters and dangerous conditions in Glenwood Canyon and downriver. Now, with the winter snowpack long gone and temperatures routinely flirting with triple digits, water levels are at much more manageable levels.

What’s followed, as a result, is a trickle-down effect that’s helped the bottom line of local rafting companies in a big way…

There’s an obvious difference in the water flows, but the biggest difference is in the overall water-flow measurements. According to figures provided by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), river flows on June 27, 2011, measured 24,400 cubic feet per second (cfs) on the Colorado River below Glenwood Springs, reached water levels of 11.77 feet near Dotsero and were flowing at 7,220 cfs where the Roaring Fork River flows into Glenwood.

There’s a stark contrast in water levels and flows this year. As of Tuesday, the USGS reported that the Colorado River below Glenwood was flowing at 2,150 cfs, was 2.80 feet deep at Dotsero and was flowing at 727 cfs where the Roaring Fork flows into Glenwood…

The water flow from 2011, though long gone, still left an impression on the routes rafting companies take while business picks up this year. Rocks and boulders were moved by the water flow all around Glenwood Canyon, but especially around the area where Grizzly Creek meets the Colorado. In a spot guides call “Tombstone,” a new boulder moved by last year’s river flow has narrowed the water-flow gap to around 16 feet wide, upgrading the move from a Class III (moderate) move to a Class IV (difficult) move.

More whitewater coverage here.

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