On the River: Aspen area raft season swimming along

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

Those planning a raft trip this summer should make plans to soon, local raft guides say.

Though just a month ago rapids were so high that guides weren’t comfortable doing commercial rides, peak season has passed and rapids “have been coming down in recent weeks,” said Kiwi Adventure guide Ronnie Schuman.

Throughout the Roaring Fork River, gauges with small computers measure the water flow’s cubic feet per second for their respective areas. These gauges are placed “typically when you have bunch of tributaries, or another creek, or river, adding volume to the river,” Blazing Adventures co-owner Dan McMahon said.

Their measurements are then “instantaneously uploaded” into their system, so that raft guides, managers and owners are able to make informed decision as to whether rapids are too high or low to run a commercial group.

Both McMahon and Schuman compared CFS to a basketball.

“One cubic foot per second is about the size of a basketball,” Schuman said.

“So a measure of 2,000 CFS is like 2,000 basketballs rushing at you every second,” McMahon said.

One of the primary factors determining the CFS of a river is its run-off.

This is especially true in the Roaring Fork River, which Schuman said “is one of the few rivers in the U.S. that’s not dam release.”

“Our water is all snowmelt. So all of our water was snow 7-12 hours before it comes to the river,” he said.

“Weather determines everything,” Schuman concluded.