This 4 mile stretch of class II and III water through Pagosa Springs is a great after-work run for rafters and kayakers. Small rapids and minimal hazards make this a great beginner section.
The first bit of this run is a mellow winding float through the valley above town. In town the difficulty bumps up just a bit as the river flows over big boulders placed as fishing features that were installed in the mid ‘90’s. The biggest feature is just below the Hot Springs Blvd bridge. Kayakers can play in this newly built wave/hole feature directly in front of the visitor’s center. At higher flows this wave has flipped a few unprepared rafters and at lower flows it becomes a nice hole. Below this the river flattens back out and winds down to the takeout a few hundred yards below the Apache St bridge. Logs, debris, canoes, and rafts have been known to collect on the right bridge support.
Recommended Flows – down to 500 cfs.
Put In: Riverside Campground a mile east of Pagosa on hwy 160. Stop at the office and pay $1 per person to park vehicles and launch.
Take Out: Yamagucci Park. Drive south on Hot Springs Blvd, turn right on Apache Street and cross the river, left on south 5th st, left on the gravel road just past the soccer fields and gazebo. Park along the road leading to the takeout, not in the turn-around near the river.
Photos Courtesy of "Friends of Pagosa Outside"
The newly built feature in front of the Visitor's Center in Pagosa has become the centerpiece of the downtown river corridor. The latest round of adjustments has greatly improved the feature at low flows. From bare minimum flows up to 800cfs it is a nice hole with a friendly, retentive feel -- great for side surfing, throwing ends, and even loops.
From 800 cfs up to 1200 cfs it becomes a green wave with a fast and glassy face but loses its retentiveness, but fast front surfs and carves can still be had. Above 1300 cfs the wave is as good as any feature in the state.
We’ve yet to see what the feature will look like at high water after the latest work done by Riverbend Engineering in mid March, 2010. If it is anything like last year, 2200cfs and up will be worth waiting for! Last year boating industry insiders from all over the country were asking why they hadn’t heard about the wave in Pagosa before.
Put-in: Take an immediate left after crossing the river on Hot Springs Blvd. Parking and river access are on the left.
Take-out: Warm up in one of many of the free “hippy dip” hot springs pools right on the river and shoulder your boat back to the car.
Word on the street is that the town of Pagosa got permitted to install two more play features just upstream from the Hot Springs Blvd. bridge this next winter (2010/2011). Thanks to Davey Pitcher of Wolf Creek Ski Area and Bob Hart of Hart Construction for donating the equipment and labor to make the current feature and the possibility of more features possible.