McPhee reservoir managers have released an update on the whitewater schedule for boaters on the Lower Dolores River below the dam.
For the next few days, flows will between 1,100 cubic feet per second and 1,900 cfs.
Between April 25 and May 1, releases will reach optimum flows of 1,900 cfs to 2,100 cfs. Between May 2 and May 8, releases are planned for 2,100 cfs.
Reservoir managers are scheduling flushing flows of 4,000 cfs from May 4 to May 6. The high flows are designed to mimic the natural hydrograph and provide environmental benefits, such as scouring the main channel and dispersing native seeds onto the larger flood plain.
After the flushing flows, the dam release will ramp to the 800 to 1,200 cfs range while McPhee Reservoir fills before Memorial Day. Forecasts still project sufficient runoff for continued boatable releases below the dam into early June.
Inflow into the reservoir remains high, but will fluctuate with a series of cold fronts pushing through, with chance of some mountain precipitation. Inflow rates and reservoir elevations are driving whitewater spill operations.
Ramp down is not expected until early June, but that schedule could change depending on continued spring weather. Melting snow will provide boatable levels below the dam for a predicted 45 days. When the Dolores River inflow matches the McPhee dam outflow, the final rampdown will occur.
Rampdown will be from 800 cfs to 600 cfs over 24 hours, and then hold for 24 hours. This pattern repeats through 400 cfs, then 200 cfs then to base flows of 75 cfs.
The Slickrock put-in/take-out access is available on private property, 200 yards downstream of the Highway 141 bridge on river left. There is a charge to use this river access. Do not use the old private boat ramp on river right upstream of the bridge, as it is not accessible this season.
For free public river access, go to the BLM’s Gypsum Valley River Access site, 25 road miles from Slick Rock, via Colorado Highway 141 and County Road 20R.
Boaters are reporting excellent conditions from Bradfield Bridge to Bedrock and beyond. Slickrock Canyon is recommended for its wilderness qualities, excellent hiking and lively, but not too difficult rapids.
Jay Loschert, of Dolores River Boating Advocates, reports the campsites in Slickrock canyon are a bit overgrown, but are improving as people utilize them. Bighorn rams with full horns have been seen on the cliffs upstream from Coyote Wash, he said.