Rafting Colorado's Animas River

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of May 2-9, 1996
Pilgrimage to mountain biking mecca: Moab, Utah
City dwellers' salvation: Canoeing in New Hampshire
Adventure hikes at the Grand Canyon
East Coast beach vacations
Rafting Colorado's Animas River
Planning your next family-style ski vacation

Rafting Colorado's Animas River
Question: My 16-year-old daughter and I are thinking of booking a whitewater rafting trip this August. We have some trip info about a two-day trip on the Upper Animas rated Class IV-V. My question is, will this be too much for the two of us? We're both in good physical condition but have no rafting experience. We want an exciting trip--no tube floats, please. In August, will flow levels be down enough for us?

Robert Steen
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Class V action on the Upper Animas.
Unfortunately, such moments could be
rare in this low-water summer.

Adventure Adviser: Unfortunately, because of this year's meager snowpack in southern Colorado, the Upper Animas will be so low in August that you won't be able to run it at all. They'll be running the Upper from late May through late June, so if you have your heart set on a frothy ride on one of Colorado's most beautiful rivers, you'll need to rethink your time frame.

As for whether you're up to the task, if you're both in good shape and are strong swimmers, the river's eight Class IV and V rapids should be doable. But don't worry, they don't let just anyone on the river: You'll need to swim through a Class III rapid and complete a half-day paddling orientation on the more mellow Class III Lower Animas before they'll deem you ready to tackle the mighty Upper. If you still have your doubts, consider signing on with Four Corners River Sports Paddling School for an introductory lesson ($250 per day for two people, 800-426-7637) on reading the river and basic paddling strokes.

Whichever route you decide to take, I recommend calling prospective outfitters to find out about river conditions after this unusually dry winter. You can find other whitewater suggestions in "Riding the Big Foamy" in the Destinations section of our March 1996 issue.

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