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Reader: Only Experienced Rafters Should Be on Colorado's Rivers Right Now

Because of the state's astronomically high snowpack, which is over 600 percent above the median in some counties, this has been an especially deadly rafting season in Colorado. So far this year, six people have died on Colorado's rivers.

Readers have plenty of warnings for anyone considering picking up a paddle this year:

Explains Monica:

It’s going to get worse..big melt has not come yet.

Says Naomi:

So tragic. So sad. I hope people take heed.

Notes Kathy:

Bummer, but you have been warned about the Colorado rivers being wicked this year. Stay out of the creeks and you might live to tell.

Says Shane:

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Colorado rivers right now are no joke, and only experienced rafters need to attempt the waters.

Argues Lyndsay:

Well, they keep telling us to stay off the rivers; I feel bad. But even I, an experienced rafter, and a whole lot of us haven't been going due to the high waters. They're swollen and dangerous. We still have snow on the mountains. I realize that you pay big money to do these things on your vacay, but it isn't worth your life. I know it's not worth mine.

Counters Eric:

Still safer than driving on the highway. Cache me outside.

Concludes Melissa:

This is the first time in almost twenty years we have been out of a drought. Stay smart and safe. Just because it looks fun doesn't mean it's safe.

Fast and full rivers, creeks and streams, plus lakes and reservoirs at or near capacity, are attracting large numbers of people from within and outside the state — and unfortunately, these conditions have contributed to a significant number of accidents. Earlier this month, a Texas man on a Boy Scouts trip drowned in the Arkansas River, and Russia's Nikolay Pezhemskiy lost his life when his raft flipped on the Eagle River.

In addition, six Dolores River tubers had to be rescued, and CPW recently put out an alert about the use of personal flotation devices after rangers were barely able to save a man who wasn't wearing one when he fell off his paddleboard at Ridgway State Park on June 13.

While the CPW doesn't want folks to stay away from state waters entirely, the agency urges everyone to understand that caution is an absolute must under these conditions.

"There's going to be an enhanced excitement for those folks who like water sports and the adrenaline that comes with them," CPW's Jason Clay told us. "And we're not saying don't go out, don't give it a try or experience it. We're saying plan ahead and know what you could be getting into, because a lot of potential dangers could be present because of fast-moving waters."

Are you reconsidering a river trip this year? Let us know in a comment or at editorial@westword.com.

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