Running permitted rivers takes planning, and now's the time, before the snow your skiing on melts and fills area rivers.
Hence the local custom of a river permit party, taking place this year on Friday, Jan 17, at the Dolores River Brewery, beginning at 6 p.m. The cover is $5 and includes a rollicking bluegrass show by the Last Nickel, formerly the Mud Flaps.
The event is a fundraiser for the Dolores River Boating Advocates, a group that seeks to optimize flows, restore the natural environment, and permanently protect the Dolores River for whitewater boating.
Knowledgeable and friendly river experts will be on hand to discuss and disseminate river permit applications for the San Juan, Chama, Green, Yampa, and Salmon rivers, and there will be a special permit opportunity too.
"It's a convivial affair with where we share and exchange information," said Kevin Cook, a DBA board member and canoeist. "There is a little bit of log rolling as well: I'll let you be on my trip if you let me be on your trip."
DBA program coordinator Lee-Ann Hill encourages anybody interested in rivers to attend the party and learn about local trips and make new connections.
"The event brings people together to learn about various river trips and what is required to get on the permitted rivers in this area," Hill said. "It's a great opportunity to find out how to become a boater and listen to river stories."
Here is information on a select few permitted rivers in the area.
San Juan River
"The Juan" flows through a spectacular series of wild canyons and is popular for float trips. Most trips launch from either Sand Island or Mexican Hat and take-out at Mexican Hat or Clay Hills. Another section of the river is upstream, between Montezuma Creek and Sand Island. Attractions on the multiple day river trip include spectacular scenery, good-sized rapids, geological features, archeological and historical sites, wildlife, and the solitude of a desert river canyon. A permit is required year-round to float any section of the San Juan River between Montezuma Creek and Clay Hills.
For trips between April 1 and October 31 an application must be received by the Monticello, Utah, field office before Feb. 1 in order to be eligible. There is a $6 application fee to enter the permit lottery. Applicants who do not obtain a lottery permit are first in line for cancellations.
For trips between March 1 and March 31, launch reservations may be reserved in advance by calling 435-587-1544.
Call the number or visit www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/monticello/recreation/permits/san_juan_river.html for more information.
The Rio Chama
A major tributary of the Rio Grande, the Chama flows through a multicolored sandstone canyon with walls up to 1,500 feet above the river as you travel downstream. Co-managed by BLM and the Forest Service (FS), 24.6 miles of the rapid-filled river is Congressionally designated as a Wild and Scenic River.
Towering cliffs, heavily wooded side canyons, and historical sites offer an outstanding wild river backdrop for the angler or boater.
All launches on the 31 mile wilderness segment of the Rio Chama from May 1 to Labor Day must have an advance permit. BLM's Taos Field Office administers a lottery to distribute weekend launch dates from May 1 through Labor Day. Applications are due before Jan. 31.
Call Mark Sundin at 575-751-4720 or 575-758-8851 to have a permit application mailed.
After April first reservations are accepted by phone for or weekday launch (Sunday-Thursday).
For family trips, the mild Ruby-Horsethief canyons of the Colorado River are a popular option.
Permits become available 60 days before the launch date. For example, May 3 reservations first become available on March 4th. The BLM office is closed on weekends and holidays. Call-in and walk-in service will only be available Monday through Friday during permit office hours. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis either in person at the Grand Junction Field Office or by telephone at 970-244-3050 or 1-855-807-1808. Hours of operation are Monday 8:00 am - 2:30am and Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 am to noon. There is no lottery, and you do not need to submit an application to get a permit. Permits will be issued by email or in person, request can be made to mail a physical permit. Go to www.blm.gov/co/st/en/nca/mcnca/boating/permit_information.html
Multiday permits are available for the Green and Yampa rivers. Generally, the Green River is a four day trip and the Yampa River is a five-day trip. The Green River can be floated most of the year. Since dams do not regulate the flow of the Yampa River, its season is dependent on snowmelt. During years with a low snowpack, the river flow may be reduced by late May or early June. In years with a deep snowpack, the river may run well into July.
Beginning March 1, available launch date information may be obtained by calling 1-866-825-2995. To obtain a permit for an available launch date, you must call the River Office on or after March 1, 2014. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/dino/planyourvisit/boating-and-rafting.htm
For floating a milder section of the Green River in Desolation-Gray canyons apply for a permit at www.recreation.gov