North American River Outfitters Poised for Solid Rafting Season Despite Below Average Snowpack Levels Across the West
The worldwide leader in whitewater rafting, O.A.R.S., reports which river systems across North America will feature the best navigable flows for the 2015 season, including destinations in the drought-stricken West.
Based on SNOTEL snowpack data from specific river drainage basins and expert insight from guides and river managers throughout the West, O.A.R.S. anticipates some of the best conditions of the year along with big-water excitement on the Chilko River in British Columbia, Canada, and good, family-friendly flows on Idaho’s Main Salmon and Snake Rivers, the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon, as well as on the Arkansas River in Colorado.
While the Chilcotin and Coast Ranges in British Columbia received near normal snowpack this winter, the Chilko is primarily glacial fed, which means hot summer temps will bring normal, always epic, rafting conditions on this river. Those looking for big whitewater thrills can expect peak water levels at the end of July and into August.
In Idaho, with current snow pack in the Salmon River drainage at 69 percent of average and the Hells Canyon drainage at 75 percent, “peak flows won’t be super high, but will be much more friendly to paddlers and less intimidating for families,” according to O.A.R.S.’ Idaho Manager Curt Chang. “Additionally, spring rains and cool temps are expected to bring good flows until August.”
Meanwhile, in Utah’s Cataract Canyon rafters won’t see notorious high water levels in 2015, but an 80 percent snowpack will allow for a steady season into October with some great Class III-IV rafting in May and June,” according to Steve Kenney, Moab Area Manager for O.A.R.S. “I have spent 13 seasons in Cataract and the levels of 20-30,000 cfs are some of my favorite times to be boating…the large features in our biggest rapids make for great hits, but don’t create the high anxiety of Class V conditions.”
Several Arkansas River outfitters in Colorado also report that the snowpack in the upper Arkansas River drainage is just under 100 percent, so whether rafters are looking for a big Class IV-V whitewater experience, or a family-friendly Class III rafting trip with big waves, big holes and big fun, the Arkansas has a healthy whitewater season ahead.
And while snowpack levels may be below average across the West, considering controlled dam releases that provide reliable water flows on many river systems, O.A.R.S. also confirms that the following runs will offer up plenty of whitewater for the 2015 season: the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon; Oregon’s Rogue River; the Green River through the Gates of Lodore, Split Mountain and Desolation Canyon in Utah as well as California’s Tuolumne River and South and Middle Forks of the American River.
On the East Coast, where record snowfall numbers were reported and average spring rainfall is expected, outfitters have confirmed that they are gearing up for amped up, early season high water and better-than-average conditions into June and throughout the summer season on many favorites like the New River, Chattooga, and Nolichucky rivers.