Bird’s-eye View of the “New” Barrel Springs on the Colorado

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While 2020’s Grizzly Creek fire wreaked havoc on the Colorado River’s Glenwood Canyon outside of Glenwood Springs, CO, the resulting mudslides also did the same to the Class IV-V Barrel Springs whitewater section, as well as causing slight changes to the popular Class III Shoshone commercially run section.

“There were two rapids on the Shoshone section that were a little affected— the first rapid, Baptism, and the last rapid, Maneater,” says Thomas Carter, co-owner of Colorado Whitewater rafting in Glenwood Springs. They got choked up a bit, so they have a little more of a big water feel at low flows. It should be a great rafting season.”

The changes have been more noticeable upstream on the harder Barrel Springs run. Combine the debris fans with the roadwork involved to clear the river and highway, and the result is a new look for this portion of the run, leaving early season kayakers exploring new routes and lines through an entirely new boulder field of holes and drops. Add a water release of 1,000 cfs by the hydro powers that be—which lured kayakers to the section this spring—and the river has a completely new look and feel.

“In my opinion, I think it’s gone down a class in rating,” says Carter of the section previously rated Class IV and V at high water, adding that the Colorado Department of Transportation is still working on bank stabilization in the area. The section also has a new boulder garden, he adds.  “The highway crews weren’t able to get all of the new boulders out of the river, so they moved them around a bit,” he says. The access for the Barrel Springs section remains the same, requiring hiking your boat up to the put-in.

Local boaters have been quick to scout and run the new maelstrom of whitewater, even taking drone footage to better see the lines.

Watch drone footage here

Click here for information on rafting the Colorado’s Shoshone section

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