Running from the San Juan mountains through the city of Durango before merging into the San Juan River. Eventually, the Colorado River is the beautiful Animas River. The Rio de las Animas, translating roughly into River of Lost Souls or just River of Souls, runs approximately 125 miles of mountains, canyons, and valleys on its voyage. The name is believed to have originated from Spanish explorers to honor a group of conquistadors who were lost without a proper funeral.
The River's passage through the Durango area generates many recreational activities for those interested in spending time outside in nature. Being one of the biggest white-water rafting attractions in Colorado during the rafting season is just one option. With both natural and artificial rapids and slow, gentle areas, the river is perfect for professional rafters or just some leisurely floating down the stream.
The Animas is also a year-round home to avid fishers, both fly fishing, and otherwise, that is consistently populated with fish. No matter your preference for outdoor activities, be they casual walks or adrenaline-pumping rapids, you can find something for nearly everyone at the Animas River.
Rafting on the Animas brings in almost 10% of Colorado's commercial rafting market revenue, a big part of which is rafting in Durango. Durango has multiple access points in and out of town for the Animas, so rafters have their pick of where to start their adventure. The Animas is home to class five rapid and below rapids, a whitewater rafting park, and various outfitters to choose from for equipment and/or lessons.
For those looking for a more individualized water experience, more accessible access to certain equipment, or just a different experience to the typical rafting, the Animas River is open to kayakers and canoers. Paddling your way down the scenic river while battling rapids or casually floating can be a great experience on a hot summer day.
Looking to work on your balancing skills? or just want a fun day on the water? Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, on the Animas is a refreshing way to cool down, exercise, and have an all-around good time. Paddleboards are available for rent throughout town.
Open year-round with a valid Colorado fishing license; the Animas River is home not only to the Colorado River Cutthroat but also the Rainbow, Brown, and Brook trout. Casting a line in the clear Animas waters is considered some of the best fishing in the USA by local fly fishers and anglers.
Gently floating down the idyllic waters alone or with a few buddies on an inner tube during a hot summer day is a favorite pastime for Durango residents. The cool water lapping against your feet saps the day's heat away. Featuring a tube fill-up and a put-in spot, the Durango Recreation Center is a great spot for those looking to spend their time down on the water.
Many tubers also launch from the Memorial Park beach near 32nd Street.
There is something special about dunking yourself in a calm river on a hot day. The Animas has several nice beaches with gentle currents that allow those interested in a dip to enter the water. Simming, while fun, is unmonitored, so be sure to take precautions and know that you do so at your own risk.
There are no Lifeguards on the river so be sure to take the proper precautions. Let someone know where you're going, wear proper safety gear, and follow general safety practices.
Be prepared. Bring water, food, sunscreen, etc.
Electronics such as phones or cameras can be damaged by water or lost easily. You should leave them in safe locations to be grabbed later or use dry bags to prevent water damage.
Arrange for someone to pick you up if you go too far down the river.
Inexperienced rafters, kayakers, canoers, etc. should seek lessons or guided trips down the river from those with experience before trying any dangerous sections of the river.
There are accessibility river access points at both Dallabetta Park and Oxbow Park.
In order to protect the Animas River and ensure its continued importance to our community, we suggest you take the following actions to help protect our water and the riparian environment around the river.
Be thoughtful about the amount of water you use.
When recreating in or near the river, be sure to clean up after yourself and pack out any trash.
Respect private property rights by not trespassing on land adjacent to the river.
Help control noxious weeds along the river and in riparian areas.
Join a local river group or volunteer for river cleanups.
Support businesses that are good stewards of the Animas River.
Speak up when you see something that could harm the river or its environment.
Educate yourself and others about the Animas River and its importance to our community.
Practice Leave No Trace Principles
By working together, we can all help protect the Animas River and ensure its environmental sustainability for future generations.