Whitewater Blog Tag: durango

Gold King Mine

On August 6th 2015, the Animas River closed due to the EPA triggering the release of acid mine water into Cement Creek, a tributary to the Animas River in Silverton, CO. Many images were taken of a river that should have been clear that time of year and was instead running a mustard yellow color. The river was closed as the plume made its way downstream slowly making its way to the confluence of the San Juan and then finally Lake Powell. Most likely, Lake Powell will act like a pea trap and most of those heavy metals will settle to the bottom.

This was a very emotional and sad week for all of the communities up and down the river. It affected our economy and our way of life. Farmers had to close their head gates and not allow any of the contaminated to enter their irrigation ditches. Fishermen were not only unable to fish, but were scared that most of the fish would not survive the yellow waters. The river was closed to entry and recreation including rafting, kayaking, and tubing.

Confluence of Cement Creek

The confluence of Cement Creek with the Animas River in Silverton, CO. This shot was taken about a week after the EPA accident.

The Animas River is strong and tough. Within days of the initial plume passing, the river was significantly clearer. As the water receeded, it left a bath tub ring of sediment on the rocks. More evidence of sediment settled in some of the eddies. About eight days later, the river was reopened after the water had been tested to show it was within safe levels for human contact. Luckily the fish dodged a short-term bullet and survived the initial impact of the metal-heavy waters. Long-term effects on the fish will be closely monitored and studied by the Department of Wildlife.

Gold King Mine Metals in Eddy

About a week after the accident evidence of metals in the eddy just downstream of the confluence with Cement Creek.

Since then, we have had a couple of small run off events that have raised the river just a little bit. One was a rain event, the other from snow melt when temperatures warmed up towards the end of February. Each time the river would rise, its color would turn a slight hint of mustard yellow, but not nearly as drastic as the initial plume. As the water begins to significantly rise in early May, we should see any remaining sediment quickly wash away.

After the accident, the EPA went to work setting up a water treatment plant above Silverton. This plant will treat all discharge from the Gold King Mine. The EPA will continue to closely monitor the water quality of the Animas. The Animas River took a huge hit from this accident, but hopefully a positive to come out of this situation will be the cleaning up of more of these old mines and closer monitoring of the future water quality.

Gold King Mine Treatment Plant

A view of the water treatment plant being built at the Gold King Mine.

After much deliberation, the Gold King Mine and other mines in the Silverton caldera mining network have been designated an EPA Superfund site. With money coming in to help clean up these mines, we hope the future of the Animas will be an even cleaner one than it was before the accident.

What does all of this mean for rafting on the Animas this summer? Lots of Rafting! Currently the water quality looks good. Let’s get out there on the water and enjoy the beauty of the Animas River. Let’s work to take care of the river and inform future generations of the need to clean up old mines and prevent this from happening on other rivers and to other communities.

Early Season Snowpack

It’s December 22, 2015 and so far this winter is shaping up to be a great one.  About 8″ of fresh snow last night with 15″ in the last 72 hours. Current base at Purgatory Resort is 42″.

Snow Stake

Possibly 2-4 feet more on the way this week!  We will keep you posted.

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2015 End of Season

We are done running trips for the 2015 season.  It was a great year of whitewater!  We would like to thank everyone who joined us for a trip this summer.  Please come back and visit next year.

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Pacific Southwest-Baker’s Box in September

Baker's Box-Animas RiverAfter 5 years without a fall boating season in Durango, we were treated to 3 weeks of uninterrupted kayaking in September. Although most days were spent deciding on whether to go Valle or Bakers, 2nd gorge of lime and Crazy Women missions went down. Here’s some Gopro action of Joel and Myself enjoying Bakers at a juicy 1200 CFS.

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Perfect rafting conditons in August!

Hallelujah!!! Monsoon season arrived with a punch in 2013. The Animas River is currently running 766 cfs. This is well above average for this time of year making the current rafting conditions perfect. Below are some video clips and photos from some trips over this weekend. Join us on our Lower Animas family friendly trip or on our high adventure Raft’n Rail package through Rockwood Box.

Liz McLaughlin running the meat of Smelter Rapid on Sunday August 11

Liz McLaughlin running the meat of Smelter Rapid on Sunday August 11

Here’s a clip of Ryan and his crew dropping into Rockwood Box on Saturday

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Which Whitewater Experience is Right for you?

Whitewater activities are an experience of a lifetime. They create an environment of excitement that gets your adrenaline pumping. If you have never ventured out of your comfort zone to get into the water, this summer is the perfect opportunity. How do you decide which whitewater experience is right for you?

Rafting, kayaking, stand-up paddling are some of the most popular and trendy water sports. All of the types are different and require different types of skills, so sometimes it’s best to get a feel for each one
to learn what best suits you.

Rafting can involve water with rough and large rapids, or calmer water with minimal rapids. This is a great adventure if you have a good amount of people that want to participate. Guides are there to help you enjoy the experience and learn how to properly paddle. They can also make your trip challenging or relaxing with just with a few different strokes of a paddle.

Kayaking is great for getting a good view of the area around you. You can kayak single or in tandem, exploring different waters. This can be relaxing or exhilarating, depending on the type of water course you choose to take. Kayaking is the most popular form of canoeing.

Stand-up paddling is an emerging sport that comes from the Hawaiian heritage. It began as a way for surfing instructors to manage large groups while teaching them how to surf. Today it is more of a hobby and a sport, generating a great workout at the same time. This requires a lot of balance and core skills and you can stand-up paddle with quite a few people. An instructor will be able to help you figure out when to stand up and how to get yourself going.

Canoeing is another whitewater experience that is easy to enjoy. It requires the skills necessary to raft as it engages every part of your body. It requires a single-bladed paddle, and is quite similar to kayaking. Canoeing can be made an easy sport on a calm river, or a difficult one if you paddle down extreme expeditions. Canoeing is gaining more popularity because it has a higher difficult level requiring more technical skill.

Those are four of the most popular water sports that people experience over the hot summer months. Starting off simple and gaining a better education for each sport will benefit you greatly as you grow as a whitewater enthusiast. All of these provide you with an adventure unlike other sports while providing you with a great body work out.

About the Author:
Rolling Thunder River Company is pleased to bring you this article on which whitewater activity is best for you. Rolling Thunder specializes in Nantahala rafting and Ocoee rafting, and offer a wide variety of water sports. If you are interested, check out their website today.

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