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HomeNL-2018-03 Colorado River

Colorado River, Altair to Garwood
Feb. 3, 2018
by Bruce Bodson

Attendees: Bruce Bodson, Ken McCormick

Distance: 13.73 miles
Map link, here.

This trip was great! We did get misted on a bit, but no hard rain. The river above the Garwood Dam was relatively slow and wide, with some good sandbars. Below Garwood dam, it got considerably faster- a modest effort paddling had me going between six and seven mph. There were numerous small riffles, but nothing I would classify as a real rapid. The sand bars were very interesting with lots of cobbles and I suspect if we would have spent a bit of time there that we would have found some interesting fossils. We saw 57 species of birds, without really looking too hard, including one green kingfisher. We found two active bald eagles nests and saw a total of five adults.


Launch at US 90A,
just east of Altair.
  Ken McCormick
  Impromptu trash dump
just above the take-out

The shoreline habitat wasn’t too good up in this area. My review of aerials indicates that the next 27 miles is really nice bottomland forest though. I’ll set that one up soon.

The portage at the dam was fairly long. I probably made it longer than necessary, because the recent high water had washed out the sandbars near the dam and I felt it was safer to land higher up and walk farther. After helping me, Ken paddled down a bit farther and did fine. I think the landing near the dam was okay for one boat at a time. There were three runnable spots on the dam, which I probably would have done in warmer weather. The loose rock stacking made it so there was not a hard drop and no hydraulic. It would have been exciting, but manageable, even in a long boat, provided you didn’t care too much about scratches on the hull.

Subtle warning on
the portage path.
One of the runnable
spots in the dam
Same spot from downstream
side after we'd portaged

Bird list, Colorado River, Altair to Garwood, Feb. 3, 2018:


Double-crested cormorant            Eastern bluebird
Neotropic cormorant Northern mockingbird
Anhinga Eastern phoebe
White Pelican Blue jay
Blue-winged teal American crow
Green-winged teal
Carolina wren
Gadwall House wren
Wood duck Bewick's wren
Great Blue Heron American pipIt
Great Egret Northern cardinal
Snowy Egret Red-winged blackbird
Killdeer Brewer's blackbird
Greater yellowlegs Eastern meadowlark
Lesser yellowlegs Carolina chickadee
Spotted sandpiper Tufted titmouse
Least sandpiper Ruby-crowned kinglet
Wilson's snipe Yellow-rumped warbler
Black vulture  Pileated woodpecker
Turkey vulture Red-bellied woodpecker
Osprey Northern flicker
Bald eagle White-throated sparrow
Red-tailed hawk White-crowned sparrow
Red-shouldered hawk Field sparrow
American kestrel Song sparrow
Crested caracara Savanna sparrow
Forster's tern Vesper sparrow
Belted kingfisher Mourning dove
Green kingfisher White-winged dove
American robin  

Photographing eagle nest
Active bald eagle nest


The author, Bruce Bodson