Blue River rafting season promises to be dismal | Colorado Springs News
For Colorado rafting enthusiasts who prefer Summit County’s Blue River, the current season could be a failure, said Kevin Foley, owner of Performance Tours Rafting last week.
Foley said there was only a 10% chance that commercial runoff could be transported on the Blue north of Silverthorne.
Foley said the estimate is based on recent conversations he has had with Denver Water, which manages the water for the Dillon Reservoir.
Foley said commercial rafting operations such as Performance Tours only send guided tours if the river flow is at least 500 cubic feet per second. Foley said in the low probability of the river flowing fast enough, it would likely start in the third week of June and last only a few days or up to a week.
“The outlook on the Blue (River) is that we’re probably not going to see rafting flows for very long, if at all,” Foley said. “One of the main reasons is that the lake level is very, very low in the Dillon Reservoir. And they’ve got a long way to go to fill it up, so it looks like a lot of the snowmelt and runoff is going to be used to stay in Dillon Reservoir and fill it up instead of letting it go down the Blue River. . And (Denver Water) didn’t think that would change unless there were some dramatic snowstorms or rain. “
Although it rained last weekend, Foley said the precipitation was not approaching the amount the reservoir would need to change Denver Water’s formula for deciding whether to divert water through the Dillon Dam and towards the Blue River.
Currently between 54 and 56 cfs are released under the dam, a fraction of what would be needed for rafting.
“If we were at a higher level of the lake for this time of year, we would probably have a season on the blue and some rafting flows,” Foley said.
But Foley said the Blue River’s lack of commercial operation would not affect Performance Tours and other local guide companies too much, if at all.
Foley credited the Voluntary Flow Management Program on the Arkansas River with providing raftable flows in the Buena Vista area until Labor Day, saying it could meet the remaining demand for anyone looking. a trip to the blue.
“Most people are fine with driving an hour and 10 minutes to go rafting,” Foley said. “So while we like having the local option of offering rafting trips on the Blue, when we can’t do it, we don’t feel it as much.”
Foley said not racing on the Blue would also not affect his ability to employ local guides.
“We’re always going to have the same level of staff,” he said. “I think we can keep them all very busy in Arkansas.”
Foley said he expects to have another conversation with Denver Water on monitoring the influx once the county has an extended hot spell of higher temperatures. Looking at the forecast, Foley expected that warm window to happen from Thursday through Sunday.
“We should start to see a lot of snow heading towards the streams and rivers,” Foley said. “They will assess the flow rate entering the Dillon Reservoir, and if for some reason that turns out to be much higher than what the model currently indicates, that could change the equation.
“But they’ve put a tremendous amount of energy into developing models and scenarios, and I don’t expect we’re going to see that change much.”