Rafting still a rush as rivers slow | VailDaily.com

Rafting still a rush as rivers slow

Janet Urquhart
Paul Conrad/Aspen TimesAspen Whitewater rafters get more excitement than they bargained for on the Roaring Fork near Basalt on Tuesday. A couple of fishermen came to their aid and no one was hurt.

ASPEN ” The white-knuckle, Class V stuff is but a memory, but local rivers are still producing float fun, not too mention a cool experience ” literally ” on a hot afternoon.

The icy, roaring flows of spring runoff have given way to more temperate conditions, luring rafters who’d just as soon stay on dry land while the high flows of May and early June lure river rats with a lust for whitewater.

But that’s not to say things are dull (see photo).

“It’s definitely not boring,” confirmed Jim Ingram, owner of Aspen Whitewater Rafting, which runs trips on the Roaring Fork and various sections of the Arkansas River on the far side of Independence Pass. Flows in the Browns Canyon stretch of the Arkansas were running at 744 cubic feet per second today at midday ” roughly twice the flow of the Roaring Fork River just below Aspen.

In fact, local rafting companies are now putting in at Wingo Junction to run the Fork down to Basalt. The water is too low to start at Woody Creek.

Aspen Whitewater and Blazing Adventures both offer ducky trips on the Wingo-to-Basalt stretch of the Fork, too, now that the water has calmed down. The inflatable kayaks are a popular choice for paddlers who’d like to explore the river and get a little wet on a sweltering afternoon.

“It’s refreshing to get yourself wet at this time of year,” said Bob Harris, owner of Blazing Adventures.

And, though the river is running at a far gentler pace than it was a month or two ago, ducky paddlers will still find good holes and rapids in which to have some fun, Ingram said.

In addition to outings on the Arkansas, Blazing Adventures is also running trips on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. The Shoshone section offers some of the best rafting in the state these days, Harris contends. It was running at 1,650 cfs today.

For those who can’t get enough, the company offers an afternoon trip that runs rafters through Shoshone three times in quick succession.

“It’s like solid rapid time for people who just want whitewater,” Harris said.

Janet Urquhart can be reached at jurquhart@aspentimes.com.

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