If you’re new to whitewater, you may be wondering how all the cool kids know where to go, and when, to find the best river levels. Welcome to Dreamflows! Move over Facebook and Instagram, time to make room on your smartphone’s front page for a quick link to this website. Don’t be surprised if your thumb begins impulsively clicking and scrolling through this website any time of day or night, especially first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. As a California whitewater enthusiast this will quickly become your go to obsession, after actual boating, of course.
On your phone the page will look like this:
It may look like a bunch of numbers and names you’re unfamiliar with, but wait, there’s more!
Observe carefully that the name of the river and the run are actually both links, and will feed you more information if you follow them.
Click on the name of the river in red to find a list of runs on that river. The runs will be followed by more links to different websites that describe the runs in detail. My favorite is AWA (A Wet State) by Daniel Brasuell because he writes a little bit more than just the rapid descriptions, he’s got great videos for most of the rivers he runs, and he’s a smart yet dorky kayaker who ranks difficulty without ego and specifically for kayakers.
Click on the gauge location in blue and you’ll get a graph showing the flow over the past few days or month. Good thing to check if you fear a flow may be progressing out of range and you want to see how fast it’s falling or rising. Or as in the case in this graph below, what time of day to arrive at put in.
Check it out, play with it, and know that while Dreamflows does host some gauges in other states, there are different websites for complete listings in other states. There are forums and occasional updates on Dreamflows about new hazards and whatnot, but more people use Boof.com for a forum and ever more these days there are Facebook groups for localized paddling communities. My favorite, and one of the most active, being the Arcata White Water Paddlers.
If Dreamflows is old hat, here is something that might float your boat: a mapped version of Dreamflows created by GIS mapping geek and kayaker at large Mike Walkinshaw. He’s not too original in the naming department, so it’s just called mikewalkinshaw.com/dreamflows-map/ and it looks something like this:
This is especially nice if you are in a new location and want to know what rivers are where or if you just want a quick glance to see what might be flowing nearby. This site is directly linked to Dreamflows, so if a gauge is out and not showing up on DF, it won’t show up here either. As you can see, it primarily targets the West Coast.
Now you can daydream and plot your river trips with more resources in your pocket. Happy paddling!