Floating The Frozen Colorado River on New Year's Day
Every New Year's Day since the 1970s, seasoned paddlers have gathered along the Shoshone section of The Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon to float the frigid waters from the Power Plant put-in to the Grizzly Creek take-out. The air temperatures can range from highs in the 50℉ to sub 5℉ — and the water temperature isn’t any more forgiving.
This particular section of the Colorado River is one of the few runs in Colorado where the current is strong enough (and there is enough water) that the river remains flowing throughout the winter. However, the water is frigid and foreboding. Water temps can drop below 25℉, long ice shelves narrow the river and make rescues difficult, and paddlers navigate class III-IV rapids. This is a NYD tradition that can prove dangerous or even deadly for those who are unprepared.
Celebrating the Whitewater Community and New Beginnings
While paddling dangerous waters hungover while your snot freezes to your face may not sound like the ideal NYD celebration to most (it’s definitely not for everyone!), this is one of Josh Thrumond’s (LavaBox creator and Chief Eruption Officer) favorite ways to ring in the new year and celebrate the whitewater community.
Josh has been traveling to Glenwood Canyon on New Year’s Day for the Shoshone NYD float on and off since 2008. However, it’s not the glory and epic frozen-faced photos of paddling a kayak surrounded by icebergs that keep him coming back. This event holds such a warm place in the hearts of so many experienced paddlers thanks to the fellowship and friendship that it facilitates.
Although the Shoshone NYD float is more of an organic gathering and tradition than an organized event, paddlers in the know come from all around the state — and even from out of state — to float this 1.7-mile section of the Colorado River. Some of the hardiest boaters even run multiple laps!
According to Josh, it’s the dedication that each die-hard paddler who shows up demonstrates that builds deep bonds between the participants. “For most of them it [paddling] is their entire lives.”
This Is No First Rodeo
Shoshone NYD marks the start of a new paddling season. In recent years it has grown to as many as 130 participants. However, this is not a float for inexperienced paddlers. Participants show up prepared with their own cold water gear, boats, SUPS, and confidence in their abilities.
The community looks out for one another and many boaters do their best to rescue fellow participants who end up swimming in the icy water. But as with other outdoor endeavors and adventure sports, conducting a rescue puts the rescuers in danger as well. Each paddler must be competent, confident, and prepared.
It’s this mutual respect, trust, and camaraderie that builds anticipation and excitement as participants gear up to meet again on the shaded and icy banks of the Shoshone section of the Colorado river each New Year’s Day.
First Paddle, Then Party
While the paddling should be left to those with ample experience, the celebration at the take-out is open to all attendees and spectators. Anyone can gather to congratulate the paddlers as they make their icy exit from the river. It’s a celebration of new beginnings, the new year, and a new paddling season! Celebratory whiskeys and shot skis are encouraged at the take-out. The frozen, hungover paddlers will thank you. Josh will be there along with a few LavaBoxes to help everyone warm up and defrost their digits after the float.
Combine peak-experience fun, the whitewater community, and good whiskey together… You know Team LavaBox can’t say no to that! Whether you paddle or spectate and celebrate, the Shoshone NYD float is without a doubt one of the most memorable ways to ring in the new year and “Bring Adventure Back”.
Say “Hi” to Josh if you see him on January 1st at the bottom of Glenwood Canyon. He’ll be there with the other participants, catching up and gearing up to take on the icy river for another year. We can’t wait to share the pictures with you. Happy New Year, Family Flame. See you on the river!
Share your crazy New Year traditions with us
Got an adventurous, out there, or outdoor NYE or NYD tradition of your own? Tell us about it! Drop a comment below or on our social media to share your most eyebrow-raising New Year’s traditions.