High-water scare over, boaters finding ‘perfect’ conditions
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
FRISCO – The high-water scare is officially over, and, according to John Cantamessa, there isn’t a better time to get into a boat then right now.
“We want everyone to realize that all the waters are at pretty much perfect levels right now,” said Cantamessa, a longtime local rafting guide and board member of the Colorado River Outfitters Association. “There aren’t any dangers as long as you’re on a stretch that suits your abilities. … This is the perfect time to go rafting.”
In recent weeks, the flows on local streams have been severely high, but a quick cold snap a couple weekends back has helped to calm the waters – and allow for some great boating.
“It slowed down the snowmelt a little bit, and now the rivers are perfect,” Cantamessa said. “Really, once we get into summer – any time in the summer is great to go rafting.”
The main thing, Cantamessa said, is to ensure that paddlers find the right stretch of water.
The High Country of Colorado – along with areas of California and West Virginia – is often considered the pinnacle of American boating. The same mountains that allow for world-class skiing also provide steep inclines for whitewater to rush down .
And in Summit County, Cantamessa feels boaters get an experience that paddlers around the world would long for.
“Some of the best whitewater in the world is within an hour and 15 minutes of Summit County,” he said.
For beginner paddlers or those looking for a relaxing float trip, Cantamessa recommends stretches of the Colorado River as well as the Blue River. The Colorado, Cantamessa said, has “wonderful views and vistas” and can be great for families. (Children need to be older than 4 years old, he said.)
The Blue River is a bit different. Due to its quirky season – that could end any week – the Blue can be often overlooked by those looking to spend a day on the water. However, the quick, rushing stretch of water from below Silverthorne into Green Mountain Reservoir can provide a great “learning experience” for those looking to pick up the sport, Cantamessa said.
Those looking for a bit more excitement, Cantamessa said the Brown Canyon section of the Arkansas River can’t be beat.
On the advanced side, the “Numbers” section of the Arkansas is considered to be one of the best stretches anywhere for experienced paddlers.
Clear Creek, about 45 minutes east on Interstate 70 from Silverthorne, can provide runs for all abilities, Cantamessa said, and regularly runs until the middle of August.
Actually, one misnomer Cantamessa is tired of hearing is that local waters “close” around the middle of June. He said that can’t be further from the truth.
“There’s no such thing as a shut-off for a river,” he said. “Waters do recede as the summer goes on, but, depending on the year, we can keep going through August.”
Cantamessa said that his company regularly runs trips on Labor Day Weekend and he expects to do the same this year.
Even after a winter that left a smaller snowpack than in year’s past, Cantamessa said the season is looking great for rafting. After the recent cold spell, Cantamessa predicts the area will see a “nice, easy runoff” all the way through August, giving paddlers plenty of time to work their way down the water.
“Any blue-bird day should be great,” he said. “I can’t think of anything better to do when it’s nice out.”
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KEYSTONE — Winter has arrived in Summit County, and with it comes skiers, snowmobilers and more from around the state and beyond hoping to take advantage of the area’s backcountry.