Skiers and snowboarders have rejoiced over Colorado’s abundant snowfall for months. Now, Colorado’s rafting industry is getting fired up as well.
The state’s overall snowpack is running at 111 percent of normal, and it’s even better in the Arkansas River Basin where much of Colorado’s rafting business is located. The Arkansas is running at 128 percent of normal.
Those figures suggest an excellent year for commercial rafting outfits, following last season when the snowpack was challenging, especially in the southern part of the state. The southern basins, which have been in drought, are slightly ahead of average.
In the northern and central mountains, where snowfall was decent last year, this year’s snowpack is almost 50 percent more than last year at this time.
“We’re all very stoked,” said Brandon Slate, president of the Arkansas River Outfitters Association. “I don’t think we’re to the point of epic. We’ve got a strong snowpack. It might become epic, if it keeps up and then the spring continues to deliver.”
Slate said the snowpack that Arkansas River outfitters depend upon actually is even better than the overall Arkansas River Basin total.
“One thing that’s deceiving about that Arkansas River Basin total is that it factors in a lot of drainages that come down below Canon City,” Slate said. “Certainly for farming and the state as a whole, we like that number. But in terms of rafting only, we look at the upper basins — Fremont Pass, Independence Pass, Cottonwood Pass and Monarch Pass. Likely that number is even higher.”
Last month, officials at Breckenridge resort said its ski season would be extended a month past its previously planned closing date to Memorial Day. Officials are Winter Park resort also are developing plans to extend its season.