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Forest Service warns boaters, others of ‘challenges, hazards’ of current spring runoff

May 24, 2023, 12:15 pm

White River National Forest officials recently issued the following press release warning boaters and others of the “challenges and hazards” of the above-normal spring runoff:

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (May 22, 2023) – While the high river flows this spring are being lauded by rafters and kayakers, these unusually high flows create additional challenges and hazards.

High river flows create hazards that do not exist at lower water levels and can be dangerous for even highly experienced rafters and kayakers.

“Don’t under–estimate the river during high flows – or over-estimate your abilities,” said Colleen Pennington, Glenwood Canyon Manager for the White River National Forest.

Hazards can change day-by-day, including debris and tree snags that can trap people underwater and puncture rafts, dangerous currents, and cold water temperatures that can create dangerous situations for even strong swimmers.

“Know your limits,” Pennington said. “The river is unforgiving with high flows. Always wear a life jacket and use proper boats designed for white water – no inner tubes.”

High flows can be dangerous for all forest users, not just those choosing to float the rivers. Normally small creeks are running high, and conditions can change rapidly. Swift streams are dangerous for all, but pay particularly close attention to pets and small children, and avoid getting too close to culverts.

Visitors may find more roads and trails damaged from the high flows than a typical year. Never attempt to drive through flood waters because the currents can be much swifter and the water much deeper than it appears. 

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