Aspen rafting season is swimming along | SummitDaily.com

Aspen rafting season is swimming along

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Blazing Adventures rafting guide Ben Whittaker, left, leads a group over Slaughterhouse Falls on the Roaring Fork River near Red Butte west of Aspen. Waterways in the Aspen, Summit County and Vail areas are beginning to taper off, local guides say.
Special to the Daily |

If you’re planning a raft trip this summer, you better make plans to go soon, local raft guides say.

Although, just a month ago, rapids were so high that raft guides “didn’t feel comfortable running commercial passengers,” peak season has passed, and rapids “have been coming down in recent weeks,” said Kiwi Adventure raft guide Ronnie Schuman.

This “volume of water moving through the river” is measured in cubic feet per second, Blazing Adventures co-owner Dan McMahon said.

Throughout the river, gauges with little computers take a measurement of the cfs for their respective area. These gauges are placed “typically when you have bunch of tributaries or another creek or river, adding volume to the river.”

Their measurements are then “instantaneously uploaded” into their system so that raft guides, managers and owners are able to make informed decision as to whether rapids are too high, or low, to run a commercial group.

Both McMahon and Schuman compared cfs to a basketball.

“One cubic foot per second is about the size of a basketball,” Schuman said.

“So a measure of 2,000 cfs is like 2,000 basketballs rushing at you every second,” McMahon said.

One of the primary factors determining the cfs of a river is its run-off.

This is especially true in the Roaring Fork River, which Schuman said “is one of the few rivers in the U.S. that’s not dam release.”

“Our water is all snowmelt. So, all of our water was snow 7 to 12 hours before it comes to the river,” he said. “Weather determines everything.”


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