Scenic USA - Colorado

The Mad River

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Animas River - San Juan County, Colorado

Photo by Paul Winters
High Country Aerie - Paul's Summit County Blog
Inset photos by Bob Goldman

     It was called the Mad River (Pawhuska) by the Navajo and the River of Lost Souls Animas River Paddler - San Juan County, Colorado by early Spanish explorers, but Rio de las Animas Peridas was eventually Americanized and shortened to Animas River. The Animas is one of four major rivers that turn violent when springtime runoff comes rushing down from the San Juan Mountains. The Mad River drops 2000 feet in a 28 mile stretch near Silverton, providing rafters and kayakers all the extreme class IV and V whitewater they can handle. Some portions of the Upper Animas are impassible, however as it reaches the town of Durango the ratings drop to class II and III levels. The Lower Animas still provides fast enough flows for novice thrill seekers.
     The west and north Number 481 - Durango and Silverton Railroad, Colorado forks of the Animas River join together high in the mountains at the ghost town of Animas Forks. From here it flows for 120 miles and joins the San Juan River near Farmington, New Mexico. Where the river flows through Animas Canyon, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is sandwiched between the high cliff walls and the river's edge. This scenic excursion train, connecting the towns of Durango and Silverton, thrills passengers with a ride through the rugged back-country that's not accessible by any road! This historic train has been taking passengers through Colorado's beautiful high-country for over 130 years. And vintage steam locomotives add another note of authenticity to this nostalgic ride.

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