El Rio de Nuestra Señora de Dolores, a scenic 241 mile-long tributary of the Colorado River, full of excitement and beauty, winding thru miles of untouched wilderness, and is rarely seen today.
Typically sucked dry, year after year by “use it or loose it” water regulations, the Dolores River is left behind with nothing but an unboatable trickle of dead water past the dam at McPhee Reservoir near Cortez, Colorado.
This spring, Mother Nature graced the southwest with an excess of precipitation and just like that, the snowmelt generated in the San Juan Mountains was set loose to flow during a short dam release.
For the first time in 5 years, local river enthusiasts alike took to the once mighty Dolores River to float beneath her stunning canyons and towering cliff walls, knowing it might be years before they see her beauty again.
We sprang into action, a few of us taking on a 2-day, 1-night, 36 mile, self-supported SUP trip through her more mellow, albeit stunningly beautiful Slick Rock section. Others of us battling it out down her Ponderosa Gorge on a 3-day, 2-night 47 mile trip, where SOL founder, Johnny Lombino tackled a successful first SUP descent through the famed class IV Snaggletooth Rapid.
The experience was incredible, from the stunning scenery to the solitude and being feeling of being completely cut off from the rest of the world. It’s a place where no cars zoom by, nor do trains, nor dirt bikes, no ATVs, no mountain bikes, no hikers. There’s nothing, just us and the sounds of the water flowing, the laps of the waves on our boards, the roaring echo of rapids ahead, splashing of our paddles and our voices echoing with joy down the canyon walls.
It was relaxing, it was fast, it got rowdy, the air was hot, the water was cold, it was wet, it was dirty and it was FUN!