A gorgeous Colorado canyon will be raftable for the first time since 2019 thanks to heavy snowpack | VailDaily.com

A gorgeous Colorado canyon will be raftable for the first time since 2019 thanks to heavy snowpack

But the Dolores is just one of many rivers where the rafting outlook is great this season

John Meyer
The Denver Post
A rafting party sets up camp along the Little Snake River south of the Colorado-Wyoming border in Moffat County in spring 2022. The Dolores River in southwest Colorado often has insufficient stream flows for rafting, but there will be enough water this year.
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Dolores River in southwestern Colorado can be one of the best rafting destinations in the country when it has enough water. It offers gorgeous scenery in the high desert of the Colorado Plateau and history dating back to the ancient Anasazi, who used it as a highway to and from Mesa Verde not far to the south.

There are many years when the Dolores is not runnable for commercial rafting outfitters because of insufficient water, though. When they can operate there, as they will this year thanks to Colorado’s abundant mountain snowfall this past winter, rafters and outfitters rejoice. The last time the Dolores could support rafting was in 2019.

“We go three, four, five years regularly without having water,” said Alex Mickel, president and founder of Durango-based Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Tours. “It’s an amazing canyon. It’s incredibly beautiful. It’s unique southwest Colorado. You have a spectacular transition from the mountain landscape to a desert landscape and a slickrock canyon. You have an incredible mix of scenery — sandstone walls with all the different colors of sandstone, towering canyon walls covered in ponderosas.”

When snowpack is meager, runoff from the upper Dolores is stored in McPhee Reservoir near the town of Dolores for agricultural needs. This year, thanks to the great snowpack at its headwaters in the shadow of the 14,246-foot Mount Wilson near Telluride, there will be some left over for recreation, which happens down river from the reservoir.

Read more at DenverPost.com.

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