More than a month of boating conditions are expected on the Lower Dolores River below the dam, McPhee Reservoir managers said in an update on the whitewater schedule.
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 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 move to the 800-to-1,200 cfs range while McPhee Reservoir fills before Memorial Day. Forecasts continue to project sufficient releases for boating below the dam into early June.
Inflow into the reservoir remains high but will fluctuate with a series of cold fronts pushing through bringing a chance of mountain precipitation. Inflow rates and reservoir elevations are driving whitewater spill operations.
Rampdown is not expected until early June, but that schedule could change depending on 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. Boater should 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 Bureau of Land Management’s Gypsum Valley River Access site, 25 road miles from Slickrock, 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 use them. Bighorn rams with full horns have been seen on the cliffs upstream from Coyote Wash, he said.