In Durango, river sports have become extremely popular and attract people from all over the world. They
come to challenge the furiously fun white water, immerse themselves in the extreme beauty of the back
country and cooling off during a hot summer day.
River sports can be broken down into categories like: kayaking, rafting, canoeing, pontoon boating, inner
tubing, paddle boarding and catarafting. Durango has all of this available and more! You can bring your
own equipment or visit one of the many expert guide shops in town. They can give current river beta which
is recommended before embarking out on your own or they can provide the complete trip for you.
Rivers & Creeks round Durango
San Juan River
Spring runoff which is best from late April through May provides the best
whitewater of the season and this site has links to various river flow data.
This information is useful for fun factor and safety so feel free to browse
these areas to help plan your trip. Be aware that conditions depend on
Mother Nature providing enough snow melt at the right time to make
your adventure meet expectations. It can go from benign to
downright dangerous very quickly.
Aside from the rivers and creeks for water sports, Durango has a
white water park in the Animas River located at the Santa Rita Park.
This area provides parking, putin and takeout ramp, bathroom, RV
parking and a fantastic slalom course for kayaks. There are waves for
play boating, paddle boarding and practicing your river skills. It's right
on the edge of town and is a must do if you want a great place to get out
and "session". You can also visit our calendar of events page for
information on competitions, events and links.
During the summer, June through September the streams tame down but still provide fun all season long.
Depending on current conditions boating is still good and inner tubing is great. It is not uncommon to see
hundreds of people floating from 32nd street putin to the Gateway Park takeout running the river during a
hot weekend. There is a shuttle called Durango Transit that can provide transportation and runs
throughout town on a regular schedule. This is a very convenient and economical way to make it back to
Whether you bring your own gear or want a spectacular guided trip Durango has you covered. So load up
the boat, pack up the gear and Go Outdoors!
Please note that river information changes constantly and that if you are planning a trip a
current measure is extremely valuable!
Understanding difficulty or "Class" of white water:
Easy. Slow to faster moving water with small waves, few obstructions, minimal risk to swimmers
and self rescue is easy.
Easy to intermediate. Wide, clear channels with medium waves and obstacles that can be
avoided easily by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and assistance is not often
needed for rescue.
Intermediate. Fast moving water with moderate to large waves that may be difficult to avoid and
can swamp an open boat like a canoe. Complicated maneuvers may be required to avoid large
obstacles so better boat skills may be required. Inexperienced boaters are advised to scout the
sections to plan their routes and emergency exits. Self rescue is easy but group assistance may
be necessary to avoid long swims.
Advanced. Powerful, intense but predictable rapids requiring higher boating skills in turbulent
water. Rivers can have constricted passages, large unavoidable waves and holes that demand
fast maneuvers under pressure. Rapids may have a "must make it" move to avoid dangerous
hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate
to high and water conditions can make self rescue difficult so group rescue is preferred.
Advanced to expert boating skills required and up to date stream information is recommended.
Expert. Extremely long, obstructed or violent rapids that expose boaters to above average risks.
Sections of the stream may have large, unavoidable waves, holes or steep congested chutes
with demanding routes. Rapids can continue for long distances between resting pools or be
nonexistent demanding a high level of endurance. The upper levels of this class can combine
any or all of these factors making scouting mandatory and often difficult. Swims are dangerous
and rescue is difficult, even for experts. Proper equipment, practiced rescue skills and extensive
experience are essential for survival.
Extreme. This is the highest and most dangerous class of white water. They offer the
professional boater the ultimate challenges with extremes brought by raging unpredictable water.
The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue for swimmers may be impossible.
Scouting may be impossible or very difficult. Most class VI rapids are run in teams of expert
boaters using all precautions available and may include sections that are only occasionally run.
Class VI rapids are for seasoned professionals only.
Our river maps page will provide some information on river flow data and general class but contacting
a local guide for up to date beta is advisable.
Banks, G., & Eckardt, D. (1999). Colorado rivers and creeks. (2nd ed.). Hong Kong, Japan: Global
© DuranGO Outdoors