Long Awaited Rafting Trips Return to the Dolores River

By Kim Cassels   •   May 18, 2023

Long Awaited Rafting Trips Return to the Dolores River

If one were to pass by the boatyard of Mild to Wild Rafting and Jeep Tours as of late, they would likely find a gaggle of jubilant and crazed raft guides talking about their most recent run through Ponderosa Gorge.

As many devout river runners have already plunged their oars into the “River of Sorrows” this spring, Mild to Wild Rafting and Jeep Tours is ready to launch their commercial trips on the Dolores starting May 19th.

“I think it’s going to be pretty similar to the 2019 season,” Alex Mickel said, owner of Mild to Wild Rafting and Jeep Tours. “We’re expecting high flows between 2,500 and 3,500 CFS, and I think we’ll have around 1,200 CFS until mid-June.”

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The last time the Dolores River made its complete 241 mile journey to the Colorado River was in 2019. This year, record high snowpack has resurrected its ancient riverbed and allowed the Dolores to flow loud and proud as nature would have it.

For those who have never had the pleasure of floating these rare waters, the looming crimson canyon is nothing short of remarkable. Many return guests are coming from across the country to run the dramatic 96-mile stretch from the Bradfield put-in to the Bedrock take out. Mild to Wild offers a variety of trips down the Dolores, from full days to six days.

“For me, my favorite thing about this canyon is the groves of ponderosas dotting the red sandstone walls that tower above the river,” Mickel said. “And what makes the Dolores so fun is continuous white water punctuated by bigger class IV rapids like Snaggletooth.”

As many are waiting for a rampant runoff this spring, and perhaps interruptions to their rafting plans, the Dolores is a bit different in how it handles high water.

“The great thing about the Dolores River is that we have controlled flows, so we know the levels before we go. Even if it ramps up to 4,000 CFS, that’s well within the range of normal rafting conditions.”


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