Packrafting Destination Recommendation Solicitation
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Dec 16, 2008 at 6:42 am #1232667
After reading Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows" my son has proposed that the two of us do a river trip in 2009. He's 26 and fit; I'm 56 and very fit, but neither of us has any significant experience in river travel outside a very few, very casual canoe trips on relatively easy whitewater streams. After researching options for a conveyance to support this endeavor, I have concluded that the packraft is a strong possibility despite our relative inexperience. My preferential mode of travel is "Shanks Mare", but after reviewing some of the available information on PR's I am actually moving from mild anxiety toward eager anticipation.
I am now at the stage of investigating some possible destinations for this trip. The duration would be 7 days including travel to/from the put-in/take-out (I'm in Tucson, he is in Houston. We would most likely drive from Tucson, but flying is a possibility. He is adamant that the river should be something relatively remote (I concur) yet suitable for a couple of landlubbers. Decent fishing would be a plus.
Does anyone have any specific suggestions or resources (books, websites) that might guide us in our decision?
Jerry Cagle (in torrid Tucson, AZ)Dec 16, 2008 at 7:42 am #1464686Greg MihalikBPL Member
The Salt River, AZDec 16, 2008 at 10:35 am #1464726Brett TuckerMember
@blister-freeLocale: Puertecito ruins
What time of year?Dec 16, 2008 at 4:12 pm #1464799
Where would you suggest putting-in at?Dec 16, 2008 at 4:16 pm #1464801
Time of year hasn't been determined yet. He's in college, so it would probably take place around his school obligations… so, probably spring break (March) or summer. I suppose there are normal flows to consider for different rivers in different seasons…Dec 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm #1464853
The Salt normally runs from late February through May. It's highly unlikely it will be runnable during the summer.
In addition, you'll also need to deal with the somewhat complicated permit system. (you can't just show up & run it). Here's a link to learn more about it.
On a side note, I don't feel the Salt would be a good choice for a first time pack-rafter. It's a solid class III and remote. While I've never pack-rafted, I'm an experienced kayaker and have been on several multi-day self supported river trips. I would suggest the San Juan as a better alternative.Dec 17, 2008 at 5:06 am #1464891
Hmmm… the San Juan is an interesting possibility. Where would you suggest I look for specific info… Do you have a favorite website or book you'd recommend?Dec 17, 2008 at 2:12 pm #1465008
Probably a good place to start is at the BLM website:
You'll still need a permit to run the San Juan but they're easier to get. Mostly because this section of the river is dam controlled & runnable most of the year. There's two sections that are normally run. One put-in is at Sand Island & the other at Mexican Hat. The section starting at Mexican Hat has a little more "activity" in it but only one major rapid (Government) which can easily be portaged.
Plan on about 4 or 5 days to run that section. The section starting at Sand Island takes 2 or 3 days. I've never run that section but my understanding is there's not much in the way of rapids there. Certainly nothing above class II. Or you can combine them for a week of wilderness paddling.
You can run these in March but it will be cold at night. Summer will be hot especially in July & August.
A good book about rivers in the Rocky Mountain West is Whitewater of the Southern Rockies. A friend of mine is one of the authors. It lists most every known river run from class I to class V+ in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona & Wyoming. It's very extensive but more kayaking oriented.Dec 18, 2008 at 5:18 am #1465115
Thanks so much. That helps A LOT…! The book is a bit pricey, but looks to have a ton of info.Dec 18, 2008 at 9:13 pm #1465316
If you think the San Juan looks good, I'd recommend getting the river map for it. Here's a link for it on Amazon:
It's mostly a very detailed map printed on waterproof paper but will give you some good information about the river, too. You might be able to find one in a local outdoor shop for $15 – $20. If you do run the San Juan, you'll definitely want this guide with you.
ScottDec 30, 2008 at 9:48 pm #1467262David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
Labyrinth and/or Stillwater Canyons on the Green River are excellent float trips, with no rapids, great scenery, and nice side hikes.
Head on over to the Alpacka website forums, and look at Roman Dial's writeup of his canyonlands trip.Apr 17, 2009 at 9:57 pm #1495076Stephen OwensBPL Member
@walknhighLocale: White Mtns, AZ
You could meet half way at Big Bend National Park,Tx.. There several canyons to float of varing lengths and skill. Winter is the prime time though. Summer can be a sizler. If you want Arizona there's always the Gila up by Winkleman but May is the end of the season unless they are releasing from San Carlos. Check out Southwest Paddler web site.Apr 18, 2009 at 9:55 am #1495144
Any concerns about smugglers, et. al. on the Rio Grande…? It looks like we're going to do this trip sometime between 12/18/2009 & 1/18/2010Apr 18, 2009 at 11:20 am #1495154Joe ClementBPL Member
Been a few years since anyone was shot at on the river. And you can also take out in Big Bend State Park. Personally, I take the Border Patrol's advice in that part of the world, and carry.Apr 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm #1495246
I didn't think you could carry in a National Park…Apr 22, 2009 at 8:24 am #1496150Stephen OwensBPL Member
@walknhighLocale: White Mtns, AZ
There are warnings about smugglers in the Big Bend Area, but rare because of the remoteness (on both sides). According to park service regulations if you carry, the unloaded weapon and ammo must be seperated and no speed loaders or loaded magizines are allowed (prevents rapid loading). Only parks in Alaska allow loaded weapons.Apr 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm #1496279
I suppose it's because of the presence of grizzlies (humans have proven to be more dangerous…) -:o)
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