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Questions about High Water?

We get a lot of questions this time of year about high water. Especially during a season like this when the river get really high. Let me answer some of the most common questions, which you may have been wondering about as well.

What do we mean by high water?
We measure water levels by cubic feet per second, or CFS. This is a representation of the volume of water moving past a given point in one second. So the higher the CFS the more water there is and the more quickly it is moving.

When is high water and how long will it last?
Flows on the river depend on the amount of snowpack in the mountains from the previous winter, and how quickly that snow melts. As spring temperatures warm up the snow melts faster and faster. We typically see peak run off in June. This season we had above average snowpack going into the springtime, and it has been warm. This has lead to water levels we haven’t seen in five years. Typically peak runoff subsides by late June. By July we are usually back to average flows.

Can we still go rafting during high water?
Absolutely! Many people wait years to get a chance to experience the Arkansas River at high water flows. There are big waves and lots of them. We adjust trip locations, or sections, so that you get the experience that you signed up for. We also adjust the minimum age requirements as the river rises. If you have a trip booked and we anticipate a child in your group would not be able to go due to the river level, we will contact you to discuss options.

What should we expect from high water rafting?
You can expect lots of big waves, long sets of rapids, and more rapids than there typically are on any given section. Some rapids go up in classification, which is why when levels are high enough that we aren’t running The Numbers we run Browns Canyon as our class IV, advanced trip. We move the Browns Canyon trip to the Salida Valley and add a few miles so you still get a class III experience.

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