Rio Colorado (Aconcagua)

Rio Colorado (Aconcagua)

Kurt Casey

Sep 6, 2009

This Río Colorado, one of 37 by the same name in central Chile, is a churning quagmire down to its confluence with the Río Aconcagua. It is a good run to do when Salto del Saldado is frighteningly high. Tight and continuous, the rapids have few eddies and require frequent scouting from shore. The most difficult drops are out of sight from the road that parallels the river. Beware of a lethal low-head bridge 2 km downstream from the put-in. After a wet winter, the springtime desert sprouts a prolific floral bloom.

From Los Andes, 80 km north of Santiago, drive east on the paved road up into the foothills of the cordillera towards Portillo. Turn north a couple of hundred meters before Puente Río Colorado. Drive up the road 400 m to the take-out at the first bridge 1075 meters. Put in at the ENDESA hydroelectric plant 8 km upstream at elevation 1350 meters. For the ambitious boat hiker, 2 km of continuous class V rapids occur upstream from the diversion dam. This section described is 8 KM long with average gradient of 34 m/km or 181 FPM.

Water quality can be a bit dubious due to mining activity and the high sediment content of drainage. Best run in late Spring/summer with flows in the 500-800 CFS range.

River was first run in 1993 by Clay Wright and John Foss.