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When I asked around on what run to prioritize on our recent trip to Colorado, Upper Animas was one of the main answers. Originally, my husband and I didn’t think this run was going to work out for us. We were on a 2 week trip to Colorado with our 2 year old daughter and my husband’s parents. A 25 mile run that is commonly run as an overnighter just seemed like too much to ask for. However, the stars aligned.
Water levels were perfect, and we were invited on a trip down the Upper Animas with local friends. The group was planning on putting on Friday evening after work, paddling for about an hour, then camping out before the main rapids began. As we had grandparents and a toddler with us, we opted to camp with our family and get an early start Saturday morning. Daniel and I were dropped off by our pit crew at 8am and off we went.

With just the 2 of us, Daniel and I made quick time down to where the rest of our group was camping. However, we certainly did take time to gawk at the scenery, as it was breathtaking. This run is located up in the mountains past Durango and starts at around 10,000 feet elevation. The snow capped mountains were gorgeous!

Once we met up with the rest of our crew, we continued downstream and the action began. The Upper Animas is a super fun, continuous class IV to IV+ with a few harder rapids speckled in. It was very continuous and splashy. Since the elevation is so high, I’ve heard many reports of people running this river while it’s snowing. Lucky, for us, we had a gorgeous blue sky day.

Mile after mile flew by with high quality rapids. My favorites were No Name and Rockwood Box. We were glad to be with friends who knew the river, because otherwise we likely would have floated right into No Name rapid without a scout. Rockwood Box is the final gorge. It’s possible to scout by walking up on the railroad tracks, but the only way to portage is up on the tracks or an earlier hike out spot, and once you’re in, it’s very committing! However, except the paddle in, it was easily the prettiest part of the run. Next time you’re in the area, I highly recommend you check this place out! ~Diane Brasuell (Gaydos)