Some of Utah’s best beginner-friendly whitewater and towering canyon walls are now available to Colorado College students, thanks to the Outdoor Recreation Committee (ORC). The ORC is the outdoor club on campus, connected with CC’s Outdoor Education Department. Through a newly acquired permit, a recent FOOT trip became the first major school-sponsored outing to paddle a popular Moab-area stretch of the Colorado River, the Moab Daily, which has been off-limits in years past. The student-led group used a combination of rafts, inflatable tandem kayaks, and “hard-shell” whitewater kayaks during their multi-day trip.
Access to the stretch of river was obtained for the ORC by Grace Brofman, the Committee’s Whitewater Coordinator. A recent, unexpected decision by the Bureau of Land Management allowed certain schools and other organizations access to a permit lottery following the forfeiting of one permit by a commercial outfitter. The ORC and other similar institutions now share between themselves the dates of this single commercial permit, allowing them access one at a time on select days.
The stretch is an ideal run for the ORC’s members due to a mix of flat-water and easy rapids that are suitable for whitewater novices. “It gives people a good taste of running rapids without it being too intense,” Brofman said. “Our goal with this trip [was] not to go run crazy whitewater but rather for students to get to know each other and have a positive experience in the outdoors.”
While the outcome of the ORC’s bid for further dates during this school year remains uncertain, Brofman is optimistic about the committee’s ability to bring students back in future years. “It could become a great first block break staple,” she noted. “It’s a good way to get a lot of first-years out on the river, and my hope is that with the right people willing to lead trips, we can also do other outings beyond FOOT trips.”
Colorado College junior Genevieve Buzan-Dansereau, one of the four student-leaders of the recent trip, also emphasized the benefits that this stretch could bring to the ORC’s whitewater program. She appreciated how the river section, which parallels a small road, was naturally impressive but “not too far removed” from the front-country, allowing for greater safety and logistical flexibility. The section is also “very manageable” from a whitewater perspective, she added. “It’s low-consequence but it’s still fun,” said Buzan-Dansereau. “I was just excited to get to introduce so many new people to whitewater.”
The trips that the ORC now has available with this new expansion of the whitewater program will allow even more students to gain similar exposure to these unique sports. Be on the lookout on SUMMIT for future ORC trips and other opportunities to experience whitewater.