Western River Expeditions reports that spring runoff from the Rocky Mountains into the Colorado and Green Rivers bodes well for an average to above-average rafting season.


“We want to get this upbeat report out to rafting enthusiasts who may be concerned that the drought menacing California waters has spread into Utah’s river system,” says Brian Merrill, CEO of Western River Expeditions. “An above-average snowpack in the Northern and Central Rockies means we’ll have the best season in years for rafting on the Green and Colorado river systems in Utah.”


As of April 1, runoff was 112 percent of normal, compared to the same date a year ago when it was at 73 percent of normal and in 2012 at 60 percent of normal.


“In years when the snowpack was nearly identical to where we are at this point, the water year ended up being average. Average is actually really good. It's not the intense, high water that garners attention, but it is still a lot of water and a lot of fun,” Merrill underscores.


His predictions come from monitoring historic snow pack levels in the Upper Colorado River Basin that covers the northern half of Colorado, part of the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming and the eastern portion of the Uinta Mountains. The basin is the source of water in the Green and Coloradorivers. He then compares snow pack levels with historic peak flows (measured in cubic feet per second or cfs) in Cataract Canyon.


“If it stays wet and cool over the next two months, we'll be in great shape. To give you some historical perspective, here are figures from comparable years on this date:


  • 1995 = 117 percent of normal; peak Cataract flow = 80,700 cfs

  • 1989 = 116 percent of normal; peak Cataract flow = 16,310 cfs

“These are the two extremes, but my money is on a decent water year. In most years when the snow pack is over 100 percent at this point, we end up peaking with at least 50,000 cfs in Cataract. Our reservations staff is optimistically advising clients thatColoradois doing better than just about everywhere else in the West,” he adds.

While Grand Canyon has the name recognition when it comes to river rafting, Utah’s Cataract Canyon is often overlooked. Cataract Canyon splits through the heart ofCanyonlandsNational Park inviting boaters to experience both whitewater thrills and eye-popping off-river jaunts.


Other river trips on the Colorado and Green rivers that are expected to have average to above average water levels this spring and summer include: