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Rafting guides anticipate a steady, long season

Cooler, rainy spring will likely slow the snow melt
Posted at 7:33 AM, Jun 12, 2023

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. — On an average day, Clear Creek is a little more clear than you'll find it lately. A guide with Liquid Descent Rafting explained the current darker brown water indicates there is more rainwater in the creek than usual.

The consistent wet forecast has been filling Colorado creeks and rivers.

"We've just been counting down the days. Every day it rains, we're like 'Yes!'" Anthony Garcia, said, who has brought his family rafting in Idaho Springs for the last decade.

This weekend, they felt the difference on the beginner route immediately.

"Before, it was more like floating on a lake. Compared to this year, where it's almost exciting as the Intermediate but on the beginner," Garcia said.

Water in Clear Creek on Sunday was rushing at around 600 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS).

"Our beginner trip's age limit is 5. If it gets typically around over 800CFS, we bump it up to 9 or 10 depending on water levels. Then we're stricter on our other sections as well," Ben Atwell, Head Boatman at Liquid Descent Rafting, said. "We employ safety kayakers. They always come with us, so that no one is able to outrun a boat or anything if they were to fall out."

During warmer springs and summers, the rafting season typically has a brief peak of higher water levels but doesn't last as long as it could.

"If it were to be 90 degrees for two weeks right at the beginning of June, the water shoots up. [Snowpack] melts really fast. So it comes right down quickly which shortens the season quite a bit," Atwell said.

The cooler rainy weather has been creating a more steady snow melt and runoff.

"We have better water for longer, it's not super high," Atwell said. "I think we're going to stay in that sweet spot for quite a while, hopefully, like another month."

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