The Piedra is a beautiful remote wilderness run through two main canyons, the upper canyon known as the “second box” and the lower, known as the “first box.” This early-season gem and elusive local favorite is being considered for a “Wild and Scenic” designation. The Piedra usually flows early and the prime runnable window is short. You can usually scrape your way down from late April thru the end of June, with the peak happening during the second half of May. Trips on the Piedra are few and far between which adds to the pristine wilderness feeling. Early season boaters have to run both boxes until the midway access road opens in early May.
Upper Box: This trip starts on a low volume creek that bumps and scrapes its way through beautiful overhanging gorges and canyons. As it travels downstream, small tributaries and side creeks cascade in, increasing the flow, speed, and intensity. This stretch is mostly low volume class III except for two significant rapids. Class III/IV Lone Pine rapid begins about six miles from the put-in as the walls begin to close in again. It is good to at least boat scout to make sure there is no wood in the channel as this rapid is a notorious log catch. It is a long boulder strewn rapid that has caused problems for rafters in the past. About a mile below Lone Pine is class III/IV Limestone Rapid. At the end of a long straightaway you can see the horizon line at the entrance of this drop. A sweeping corner, a few meaty holes, and significant gradient create a fun rapid with a steep entrance. A few miles of busy water brings you to Hunter Campground at the end of First Fork Road.
Recommended Flows – down to 1000 cfs.
Put-in: 16 miles North on Piedra road, CR 600, the road crosses the river. Launch at the day-use area just upstream from the bridge on river right.
Take Out : Hwy 160 crosses the Piedra river about 22 miles west of Pagosa. Take First Fork road ,FR 622, 13 miles north to the dead-end at Hunter Campground.