Vail Valley water should peak near end of May |

Vail Valley water should peak near end of May

Chris Outcalt
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyJamie Ober powers through a hole Thursday while kayaking down the Eagle River through Eagle-Vail, Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” There are plenty of good spots to get a boat in the water in Colorado’s Vail Valley right now, and the paddling is only going to get better.

Runoff of the winter snowpack has already started and will continue through May. Water levels in the area usually peak around the end of May or beginning of June, and most kayakers are probably eagerly awaiting the runoff, said Sean Glackin, owner of Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards.

“Most people are probably thinking the more water the better,” Glackin said.

Warmer temperatures the last few weeks have already caused water in some places to rise.

People are already paddling spots of the Eagle River by Dowd Junction and taking advantage of the whitewater park in Avon, Glackin said. Some beginners are putting in at spots around State Bridge, he said.

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“It’s kind of slowly starting to happen now,” Glackin said. “Another week or so of warm weather and we’ll be there, there’s plenty of snow up there.”

Vail Mountain had more than 400 inches of snow this season and snowpack levels in the valley are about average, said Mark Gillespie, snow supervisor for the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

“April has been a fairly wet month, I wouldn’t think that would drop off much,” Gillespie said. “It’s driven pretty much by temperatures; the curveball this year is all the dust we have on the snow.”

Storms at the end of March and beginning of April brought rust-tinged snow to valley. The snow looked dirty was because of dust the storms picked up in Arizona, Utah and western Colorado.

The dusty snow could melt more quickly than normal, Gillespie said.

“It won’t be nearly as good as last year,” he said.

The forecasted runoff in 2008 was between 120 and 130 percent of average.

Although the current fishing season is on it’s way out, there’s still a week or two left before anglers are left waiting for summer, said Matt Sprecher, owner of Minturn Anglers.

“The fishing is going to stop in the next couple weeks,” Sprecher said. “It depends on the weather.”

Most water upstream from Edwards is still good for fishing, but spots around Eagle and Gypsum are already “blown out,” Sprecher said.

Blown out is the term anglers use to describe water that’s too dirty or too fast to fish, Sprecher said. Being able to clearly see 18 inches into the water is ideal, he said.

“We had an earlier ice-out because of the warm weather,” Sprecher said. “A lot of that early snow started coming down; some flies called streamers are working well.”

In five or six weeks most spots will be fishable again, he said.

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or

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