Arkansas Rafting - Browns Canyon, Royal Gorge, and Upper Bighorn 
Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 09:04 PM - Weekend Fun
Jeanne, Andy, and I drove up on Friday to Salida for a weekend of rafting and kayaking on the Arkansas for our 4th of July. We got very lucky to snag a great camp spot overlooking Silver Creek right at 38.405045, -106.126021. Nearly every spot was taken by the time we got up there, but the rain must have scared someone off because we discovered a dry patch in the shape of a tent footprint there.

Saturday we dropped off a car in town and headed up to Ruby Mt to run Browns Canyon. It was a cold morning and since we were expecting rain in the afternoon, we went up to Buena Vista so Andy could buy a wetsuit. It definitely paid off. We ran the class 3-4 rapids from Ruby Mountain to Salida East in Daniel's 16' boat with 8 paddlers while Aaron and Ren rowed their 12 footer. It was a long day on the river, but lots of fun. Daniel guided on the Arkansas for 5 years so he could point out all sites, give us some history of the place, and tell tall tails of guiding (e.g., full moon trips).

Aaron and Ren flipped in Big Drop, when they hit the big drop. We dried off in the last of the sun before the rain hit. My dry top and wetsuit were well suited for the weather. Others were less comfortable. Below Stone Bridge it got more mellow and I took over as skipper for about an hour. At first I wasn't great giving the rowing commands, but did get better by the end - I only hit about 5 rocks! To top off the day Aaron flipped the boat in the play hole 10 feet from the takeout and Daniel had to throw the rescue line and pull them into shore.








We grabbed dinner and a drink at Elevation Brewing before heading back up the hill to camp. That evening Aaron and Ren also came up to our spot with their Westfalia. It was great to have the dry camper since it was raining most of the evening. They pulled out the BB guns and we took turns shooting beer cans out of the tree. Could there be anything more America for the 4th?




It took some debate but we finally decided to load into Daniel's boat and run the the Royal Gorge (Class 4-5) to Centennial Park. We ran shuttle and headed into the Gorge around noon at a respectable 2000 cfs. Daniel had guided this stretch too but it was still exciting. For one, I shifted into the front spot and got hit with my fair share of waves: there were major wave trains on all the Class 4 spots and we got knocked around pretty well in the narrows. Daniel said he felt like Sunshine Falls and Wall Slammer could be considered Class 5 at this level. It was awesome - just like I remembered it from my CO summers in 2006 and 2008. That night everyone came up to the camp and we had a great BBQ party.




Unfortunately, Crystal got a flat on the drive back Sunday and Cami found a flat Monday morning. We got the spare on easy enough, but what are the odds of two flats in 12 hours!? Needless to say, they were interested in getting new tires before making the long drive back to ABQ, so Jeanne, Andy, and I were left to float the Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon on inflatable kayaks alone for our 4th of July. It was sad the whole gang couldn't join, but we made the most of our 10-mile fun float to Rincon.





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