Six Dolores County youths reported missing on the Lower Dolores River were found Sunday morning by a Flight for Life helicopter, according to the Dove Creek Press.
The group attempted to float the river on inner tubes and had put in Saturday at the Bradfield Bridge.
After running into trouble, they got to shore and spent the night with a family who was rafting the Ponderosa Gorge section of the river.
Dolores County Sheriff Don Wilson called in a rescue helicopter, and the missing youths were found shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday, the newspaper said. They were extracted by helicopter.
On Saturday, the section of river where the youths were inner-tubing was running at a high flow of 3,400 cubic feet per second.
The rescue effort included Dolores County Search and Rescue, Dove Creek Fire Department, Dove Creek Ambulance District, Flight for Life Colorado and the Dolores County Sheriff’s Office.
Waterways are running high after the San Juan Mountains received above-average snowfall this winter. The high water can be an allure to river users, but also a danger for inexperienced or unprepared boaters, kayakers and tubers.
John Brennan, an engineer with the Durango Fire Protection District, said anyone going on the river should go with others and wear a life jacket, closed-toed shoes, a helmet, thermal protection and bring extra clothes in case they go for a swim.
When the water reaches discharge levels above 500 cfs, it is “highly frowned upon” to be out on inner tubes, he said.
“Inner-tubing is dangerous. It is a really dangerous activity because you don’t have a lot of control over that craft,” Brennan said.
The Durango Herald contributed to this story.