rafting the lower dolores
Very Limited Release Dates
This 102 mile stretch of river carves its way through broad valleys and incised canyons with sheer canyon walls. The river passes through multiple 'special areas' including a Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA), a Wilderness Study Area, and Lands managed for Wilderness Characteristics.
Whitewater boating ranges from flatwater to Class IV rapids (Snaggletooth Rapid), with access points at Bradfield Bridge, Mountain Sheep Point, and Gypsum Valley recreation sites. Depending on private land owner approval, access may also be provided at Slick Rock.
The Lower Dolores is situated below McPhee Reservoir and therefore flow is based on release from the McPhee Dam and downstream releases are dependent upon the ability to fill the reservoir.
Flows can be as low as about 10cfs or as high as 5000 cfs. Ideal boatable flows are at least 200 cfs for canoes and kayaks, 800 cfs for rafts up 14 feet, and 1,000 cfs for rafts larger than 14 feet. The 'sweet spot' is generally considered to be between about 1,200 cfs and 2,000 cfs.
In many years, there are no boatable releases. However, if releases do occur, they are generally between the middle of April and the middle of June.