Durango Kayaking & Rafting

Durango Whitewater Rafting

The Animas River , large for Colorado rivers, is a free-flowing river perfect for Durango whitewater rafting or kayaking. No dams hold back the river from Silverton to Farmington. The wilderness through which the Animas flows is superb. The waters of the Animas vary with the changing of the seasons. They are fed by snow melt in the spring that can roil the waters through mid-June with heavy runoff. The Animas is relatively cold, as it is primarily snow-fed and is situated at a high altitude.

The Animas offers whitewater and kayaking enthusiasts two temperaments. The upper Animas is a challenging section with class IV rapids, while the lower Animas is fit for even beginners.

The upper Animas features an 80% gradient with three distinct drops: Garfield Falls, the Kicker, and No Name Drop. Beware the Rockwood Box at the end of the run, only experts should attempt this.

One section of the Upper Animas is class V, with flows greater than 2,500 cubic feet per second. This is above a class IV rapid, the highest rapid that can be safely navigated by non-experts. Individuals should exercise extreme caution and only attempt sections of this waterway which their experience warrants.

The Animas Gorge is impassable.

For Beginners

Durango Kayakers

The lower Animas runs through Durango where it is rated as a class III whitewater. The Durango section of the Animas has four notable features: the Smelter Rapid, Santa Rita Hole, an enjoyable set of waves followed by a drop (haystacks), and then the town of Durango itself. Start the run at 32 nd or 9 th streets, and get out at Four Corners Sports or High Bridge.

For those new to whitewater rafting, Durango offers many guides and rafting companies who can introduce you to the sport. The Animas River holds promise to be one of the most memorable parts of your Durango experience.

Guide to Rapid Classifications

Class I Moving water with ripples and small waves.
Class II Easy rapids with waves up to three feet. Open channels.
Class III Rapids with high, erratic waves capable of swamping an open canoe; constricted channels.
Class IV Long, difficult rapids with obstructed passages; scouting from shore may be necessary.
Class V Extremely difficult and long, violent rapids, a significant hazard to life in case of mishap.
Class VI Not navigable.