#Runoff news: Royal Gorge open for rafting

Photo via Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

Rafts have returned to the Royal Gorge section of the Arkansas River this week [June 25th] now that flows are receding and tourism is looking up in the region…

The river was running higher than 3,200 cfs for much of the past three weeks, a level that had commercial rafts voluntarily avoiding that section due to safety concerns…

What August will bring remains to be seen. If the river drops below 700 cfs, the voluntary flow program will kick in and augmentation will keep the flow at that level through Aug. 15 to accommodate rafting.

From the Canon City Daily Record (Sarah Matott):

Kyle Horne, programs director at the Cañon City Area Recreation and Park District and co-chairman for the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival, said festival attendance was down Friday night [June 23, 2017] and was still waiting on numbers for Saturday.

He said weather definitely played a role Friday night, as it was rainy and cold, as compared to a typical summer night…

On Saturday, Horne said the Arkansas River was flowing at about 3,400 cubic feet per second in the afternoon and was flowing at 3,160 cubic feet per second Sunday morning. Leading up to the festival, the river levels were being watched carefully by festival organizers after an unexpected water release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation caused the river to spike.

The water release came from Twin Lakes Reservoir, which is about 13 miles south of Leadville in Lake County.

Last Tuesday, the Arkansas River was flowing at about 4,100 cubic feet per second, hitting a new peak level for this year after the release occurred.

Before the release, festival organizers were expecting the river levels to be at about 2,400 to 2,000 cubic feet per second.

Horne said the release by the Bureau of Reclamation did have some impact, but the high river levels are simply due to this year’s runoff.

The high river levels caused all inter tube events at the festival to be canceled and a last-minute decision to cancel the rafts from the “build your own boat” race.

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