Dallas Downriver Club

Date: August 21-23 2015 Sponsor: DDRC
River: Rio Chama, New Mexico Trip Leader: Bryan Jackson
Reach: El Vado Ranch to Big Eddy 31 miles over three days, two nights leaving on Friday morning Aug 21. Phone: 972-979-2519
Difficulty: Class I - III E-mail: paddlinpals@yahoo.com
Rendezvous: Thursday Aug. 20 4 pm. El Vado Ranch 3150 NM-112 Tierra Amarilla, NM 87575 (575)-588-7354 RSVP - REQUIRED!
Campground: Canoe camping on river  Limited to DDRC members ONLY

Trip Description:

Due to the high interest for this trip, we are limiting participants to DDRC members only. This river requires permits issued by the BLM which allow a max group size of 16. We have two permits for that weekend, but we will be limiting the trip size to two groups of approximately 12 each. RSVP's are being taken on a first come, first served basis. Once we have reached the max number, we will start a stand by list.

We will meet at El Vado Ranch on Thursday, August 20 to stage gear and run a shuttle. Tent camping and rental cabins are available at El Vado Ranch. On Friday morning, we will be setting off on a three-day – two night trip, camping on the river for two nights in designated campsites. Bring everything you will require fro three days and two nights of primitive camping.  This river is remote and inaccessible for the first two days by any other means than the river itself. We will make camp each day in time for hiking, the mountains and box canyons near the campsites. 

Required Gear

Bring everything you will need to eat, sleep and survive for two nights on the river. Check the weather in advance of the trip to ensure you have the proper gear for the forecast.

This is a beautiful river that features mostly Class 1 and II rapids the first 20 miles, however there are a few in the last 10 miles that can get up to Class III status depending on the water levels. make sure that your boat is still maneuverable and "sea worthy" with your camping gear aboard. Canoes should consider the use of spray skirts to prevent swamping.

There are a few gear requirements, the ones that have to be in each boat are highlighted in red.

Required River Recreation Items
  • A first aid kit adequate to handle common river injuries.
  • An approved US Coast Guard life preserver, Types I, III or V, which must be worn by every person in the party while on the river.
  • For non self bailing rafts, appropriate buckets must be on board each craft.
  • A length of rope at least equal to the length of the boat.
  • A throw line at least 50' in length must be on board each primary boat. (these will be carried by the lead and sweep boats in each group)
  • Patching and repair equipment, including an air pump.
  • Fire pan required for all fires; you must carry out all ashes and coals.
  • Strainer for dishwater; residue must be carried out.
  • Solid human waste must be carried out in a washable re-usable container, no plastic bags allowed. River toilets that meet requirements are available at river equipment outlets. ECO Safe, River Bank Toilet or Jon-ny Partner brands may be purchased at: nrs.com or cascadeoutfitters.com. Liquid waste should go into the river. (Club owns an ECO Safe Toilet)
  • If you bring your dog(s), they must be leashed and under your control at all times, to avoid harassment of wildlife or other recreationists. Dog feces must also be carried out.

Info on the river

Rio Chama Landscape

Hot Spring on the Chama

More Hot Spring

The 'ol Homestead

* International Scale of River Difficulty

Class I: Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight, self-rescue is easy.

Class II: Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed.

Class III: Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims.

Class IV: Advanced. Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require "must" moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting is necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended.

Class V: Expert. Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to above average endangerment. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is mandatory but often difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is difficult even for experts. A very reliable eskimo roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential for survival.

Class VI: Extreme. One grade more difficult than Class V. These runs often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible. For teams of experts only, at favorable water levels, after close personal inspection and taking all precautions. This class does not represent drops thought to be unrunnable, but may include rapids which are only occasionally run.

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Last updated February 1, 2015 1:13 PM