Playing in a wave

Dan Rottinghaus of Pueblo plays in a wave Thursday in the Salida Whitewater Park. After the Arkansas River peaked last week at just below 2,500 cubic feet per second at the Wellsville gauge, it was running at 1,530 cfs Thursday.

Flows in the Arkansas River peaked a little early this year.

The gauge in Wellsville recorded the year’s highest flows on June 3 and 4: 2,490 cubic feet per second on both days. A week later, on Thursday, the river was down to 1,530 cfs in Wellsville.

“That’s a little earlier than normal,” Rob White, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area park manager, said. “Historically FIBArk takes place on Father’s Day weekend because the peak flows are then. It varies every year, but this year was definitely an early peak.”

White called the peak flow of 2,490 cfs “pretty average.”

While the river’s flow may have peaked, boating is still good and should stay that way for a while.

“Right now we have great flows; it’s perfect for whitewater and it’s perfect for families,” White said. “With the amount of snow still up in Leadville, we should have good flows through June. If we get to July 1 around 700 cfs, we’ll be good.”

From July 1 to Aug. 15, the Voluntary Flow Management Program allows water to be released into the river and keep it flowing at 700 cfs.

Dan Rottinghaus of Pueblo, who was playing in the Salida Whitewater Park Thursday, agreed that flows are currently good.

“It’s pretty good,” Rottinghaus said. “The wave (by the Coors Boat Ramp) is a little flushy, but it has a lot of power, so that’s good.”

Lots of other private boaters have also been enjoying the river while commercial outfits are getting going.

“Private boating has been through the roof; people are ready to get outdoors,” White said, adding that commercial companies are starting to pick up.

“I’m hearing it’s picking up nicely,” White said about commercial outfitters. “People are staring to feel comfortable traveling and boating, especially since restaurants and lodgings have opened back up.

“And I think the commercial (companies) are doing a good job following guidelines. They’re doing their part and people are getting to go boating again, which is great.”

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