Commercial rafting limits in Glenwood Canyon? |

Commercial rafting limits in Glenwood Canyon?

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Forest Service may limit the number of total commercial rafting and kayaking trips that can boat through the Shoshone rapids area on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon.

The announcement came as no surprise to some area outfitters.

“The 73,300 number is a number we’ve been working under for the last five to 10 years anyway,” said Kevin Schneider, owner of Rock Gardens Rafting. “We didn’t want to replicate the Arkansas River with a stream of boats going down it.”

A 30-day public comment period on the environmental assessment, or EA, began Tuesday. The preferred alternative in the EA proposes a limit of 73,350 user days per year, according to a legal advertisement in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on Wednesday.

Schneider added the formal EA process and Forest Service limit is really just an “academic” thing at this time. After a busy year in 2000 or 2001, Schneider said,

outfitters worked to control the number of user days themselves.

“We all collectively kind of said, ‘Hey this is a little bit over the top,'” he said.

From there, outfitters came up with what they thought was a reasonable number of user days, according to Schneider. A user day is one person on a guided trip for any part of a day.

Some of the area’s outfitters are nearing their allotted capacities, Schneider said, but there doesn’t seem to be any pressing urge to increase capacity.

The EA from the White River National Forest’s Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District says the proposal is based on the physical capacity limitations of the Shoshone and Grizzly boat ramps in the canyon. The commercial cap is also meant to provide a good mix of guided and nonguided trips. The EA says the proposed cap is based on the existing amount of commercial user days.

“Quite frankly, it would be nice not to have more commercial vessels on the water,” said Chris Vogt, owner of Glenwood Canyon Kayak. “The bottom line is ” I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Shoshone during a busy day up there, but it is absolutely nuts.”

However, Vogt said Glenwood Canyon Kayak uses only a small number of commercial user days to teach kayaking. He thought larger rafting outfitters would have a better perspective.

“Just from what I’ve observed down there it’s pretty busy, and to increase the amount of numbers on the river right now, we’re pushing it,” Vogt said. “To me it already seems like (outfitters have reached) what the maximum capacity is, but then again it’s hard for me to tell because I have a really small operation and rafting and kayaking are completely different.”

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