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Rafters navigate the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge in this file photo by Danny Gawlowski. This section of the Arkansas River is under a high water level advisory.

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Commercial rafting trips returned to the Royal Gorge section of the Arkansas River on Wednesday after a high water advisory was lifted.

The Arkansas River’s water level dropped below 2,800 cubic feet per second Thursday, after running at 3,200 cfs since June 8.

Rivers fed with a high snowmelt can pose dangers to rafters, kayakers and other water enthusiasts. Churning torrents and high, fast-flowing waters this summer have claimed at least a dozen lives around Colorado.

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area stretches 152 miles ranging from mild Class I rapids to raging Class V.

When water levels climb, rapids that typically fall under a lower class can increase in level, making it difficult for boaters to navigate the water’s changing landscape, said Rob White, who manages the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area on behalf of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

While the rivers do not shut down for recreational activity, commercial rafters voluntarily avoid specific sections of the river. Private boaters are warned of the dangers high water levels can pose without proper experience and equipment, White said.

“We are out of the high water advisory period. We have seen the peak flow this year,” White said. “People can be able to expect to boat the Royal Gorge for the rest of the summer season.”

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@JessySnouwaert

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Jessica is a 2019 intern at The Gazette. She is a Colorado native who is currently a student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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